[Review] SuperEpic: The Entertainment War – Nintendo Switch

Written by Derek Wright
  • Developer: Undercoders
  • Publisher: Numskull Games
  • Release Date: 12/12/2019
  • Price: $17.99 / £14.99
  • Review code provided by Numskull Games

Video Games Are Dead

In a world, where video games as we know them are nonexistent; free-to-play phone games are crowned king and Regnantcorp are the sole creators. The masses are blind to this truth, as entertainment is handed to them daily, for free, with optional premium upgrades if you want to be the best. In the midst of video game oppression, a call to arms is broadcasted for the world to see; storm Regnantcorp’s headquarters and shut down their monopoly on the video game industry. Will you answer the call? If you did, it would be SuperEpic for sure!

SuperEpic is developed by the Undercoders, of Conga Master fame, and Numskull Games who brought us the Switch version of Deadly Premonition. Regardless of what these entities are known for, SuperEpic is nothing like any of those titles. The player takes control of Tantan and Ola, a racoon and a llama, as they infiltrate Regnantcorp’s eight floors (there must be more than eight with the number of stairs you climb) to topple the oppressive game industry. 

Long Live Video Games

From first glance, this game may seem like a standard Metroidvania style platformer, with areas sectioned off until you get the required upgrades, etc. While this is the case, it is also infused with a combo-based fighting system closer to a simplified Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. While it may not have a high number of moves in those titles, it can also feel akin to a beat-em-up or brawler. The basic actions available at the start include a simple combo, pop-up, and overhead spike. SuperEpic will make sure you learn how to use all of these, as certain enemies are more susceptible to each attack. More moves and abilities become unlocked as you progress and find gems, one of the game’s currencies.

The other currency is more fitting for a game about taking down power-hungry mobile game developers, cold hard cash. Almost every enemy defeated drops a few coins and they are used to buy new weapons, armour, health and other regenerative items. The items Tantan and Ola equip are not the standard fare, with the likes of plungers or stop signs for weapons and scarves and saddles as armour; this game has a strong sense of humour in everything it does. Even the health potions are energy drinks and sodas.

The humour doesn’t end there, as this game is loaded with many nods towards nerd culture and video game history. My personal favourite involves a hilarious version of one of the most memorable videogame dialogues, even conjuring much of the same imagery from the original game. Even though this is a humorous game, it does play with the idea of morality in videogame development. One antagonist questions Tantan’s love of classic arcade games and compares the quarter munchers of old to modern mobile games and ask what is the difference? This level of self-awareness comes full circle as multiple mini-games are present that require the player to scan a QR code with their real-life cell phone to play them. This usually rewards the player with a safe (chest) to loot.

Overall, I found most of these mobile mini-games to be novel ideas, but I had quite a hard time getting some of them to scan, spending an upwards of 5 minutes attempting to scan. I may have found more enjoyment from them if this wasn’t the case, and maybe the QR code colour can be adjusted in a future patch, as only the darker coloured codes caused issues.

Once the QR Code scans, a Regnantcorp game opens on your phone. It feels like a very basic phone game. There isn’t much depth or fun to these games, and it could be intentional to show the deep disparity between them and the main game. Other than the mobile mini-games, a roguelike mode is also unlockable, which is quite a nice touch to an already full game.

The main game of SuperEpic can take 10 to 11 hours depending on your completion rate. I believe I finished close to 11 hours with a 99.1% completion rate. For a Metroidvania, I feel the total playtime of this game hits the perfect sweet spot. It’s a game that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, but it’s not overly brief either.

Taking A Note from The Classics

While the game’s graphic design didn’t blow me away at first, once I had put in a few hours, I truly appreciated what the Undercoders accomplished with SuperEpic. The game is presented in a 16/32-bit pixel style and the animations of all enemies are rather gorgeous. The sheer amount of enemy characters is drastic, with each floor (domain) sporting 4-5 unique characters. With this said, there were archetypes, such as the big guys, the flyers, and the small grunts. Even with these similarities, they all displayed different attacks and patterns.

The sound design was a joy, with many great tunes present. One song felt very reminiscent of Sonic 3’s soundtrack, and I believe it plays in the 2nd floor of the game. This song felt like it would be perfect for a funhouse, and with giant attacking arcade machines and pigs bouncing on exercise balls, I must say it fit. While some songs felt very lively and playful, other songs, such as the merchant’s theme, felt very melancholy.

The Future is Blurry

In my playtime with SuperEpic, I had almost zero complaints while playing it in handheld or docked mode. The only issue was one I touched on earlier with the QR Codes not scanning. I found I had better luck scanning them on my TV than when I tried to scan them in handheld mode. Other than that, the game ran without a hitch and with no slowdown or bugs in sight.

Final Thoughts

SuperEpic won’t be remembered for reinventing the wheel when it comes to Metroidvanias, but it should certainly be held in high regards for fans of the genre. The characters are goofy, fun-loving at times, and definitely memorable. The combat adds a nice touch as I haven’t personally played any game like this. With the addition of a roguelike mode, I can see myself firing up this game for many months and years to come.

Pros

  • Combo Based Battle System
  • Great Pacing / Length
  • Character Designs

Cons

  • Frustrating QR Code Mini Games
  • Mobile Mini-Games Not That Fun

Verdict

SuperEpic is a new and interesting take on the Metroidvania genre that packs humor and originality.

4/5

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