Updated: Sep 28, 2022
Written by Ade (@JpegYakuza)
All photos taken from Chroma Squad page on Steam
For one of the most iconic pop culture franchises of all time, Power Rangers has a serious shortage of quality video games. As far as I can tell, the best Power Rangers game currently available is Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, a Marvel vs. Capcom style 3v3 fighting game that’s apparently really mechanically deep. I’ve been waiting for all the DLC characters to drop to pick it up, but I’ve seen a lot of promising coverage. And it was while looking up Battle for the Grid on the eShop that I stumbled across a little indie game by the name of Chroma Squad. And while it’s not officially a Power Rangers game, it might as well be.
Chroma Squad is a game from a Brazil-based indie studio, ‘Behold Studios’ that released all the way back in 2015. This game makes no attempt to hide its influences. It’s oozing Tokusatsu. Tokusatsu by the way, refers to a genre of live action Japanese TV shows that include such series as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai (the show Power Rangers is based on). Due to this, Chroma Squad ends up being the tactical RPG Power Rangers game I didn’t know I needed.
As a Tokustsu nerd, Chroma Squad hit the right spots so thoroughly that my friends had to make sure I hadn’t secretly developed the game myself. The game goes to great lengths to let you customise and create your ideal squad of heroes. You get to cast actors (some of which you might recognise) from a predetermined list in the roles of your 5 heroes. While I personally wanted even more options for actor looks, the choices are surprisingly varied and comedic. You then get to name every individual character, choose their suit colour, and choose their role in the team. You’ve got the strategic “Techie”, powerful “Assault”, support-based “Assist”, agile “Scout”, and the all-around “Lead”. Did you always hate the red rangers being the leaders? Well you can make the leader whatever colour you want. Each of the 5 roles has its own predetermined dialogue, storylines and skills though, so choose wisely. Your "Techie" is always going to be somewhat reserved, and in some storylines (cause the game has multiple), your "Lead" is gonna develop an ego.
After all this customisation, I was already impressed, but then I reached the studio customisation screen. This is where I lost my mind. You get to choose the name of your studio, the name of your multicoloured crime fighting team, the name of their transformation, the cheesy quote they say before transforming, the name of your giant mech, the cheesy quote used to summon it, and the name of your bombastic final group attack. As long as you can keep it within 40 characters, it can be anything. With this level of customisation, you can essentially create your dream Power Rangers team, down to the catchphrases. I spent what felt like 30 minutes filling out this section, and even when I later changed my mind, the game let me change everything at will.
As if the freedom of customisation wasn’t enough, the game’s writing charmed me to my core. It’s full of references to all sorts of Tokusatsu content. From the Dekapistol from Dekaranger (the base season for Power Rangers SPD), to axes, bows and daggers, all reminiscent of some of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers signature weapons. Even comic fans will find some fun references. The game’s diverging storylines fully embrace the cheesy charm of Tokusatsu shows, in everything from the stereotypical storylines and cheesy, over-the-top villains, to the blatantly makeshift costumes and special effects. Your studio even receives regular emails from fans, investors, and curious characters alike. Some of which had me genuinely giggling with their comedic flare.
The only part of the game that didn’t surpass my expectations was the tactical RPG gameplay. I’m fairly familiar with the genre, and this is certainly no Fire Emblem or XCOM. The Tactical RPG gameplay is far from bad, and even has some unique, on brand features of its own, especially the ability to pull off acrobatics and group attacks thanks to the “‘teamwork” mechanic. However, it’s lacking some of the things TRPG fans might be used to. You can’t see enemy movement ranges, and there’s no kind of rewind function. If you make a move, you’re committed to it. And, the attack damage previews are hard to interpret at times. Sometimes it looks like you can take out an enemy, but once your attack is over, they’re still standing, with a sliver of health left. The game also fails to fully explain all of it’s mechanics, leaving you to figure some things out for yourself. For example, I didn’t discover that I could check every unit’s status conditions in detail until near the end of the game. The tutorial gives you the basics, and then sends you on your merry way.
Chroma Squad currently has a 10/10 rating on Steam, proving just how much it lives up to its promise of multicoloured, spandex-clad, tactical fun. I feel like anyone with even a casual knowledge/appreciation for Power Rangers style shows will find a lot to love with this indie gem. And just like the shows it’s based on, Chroma Squad is for everyone. Whether you’re a Sony, Nintendo, PC, or even a mobile gamer, you can get your hands on Chroma Squad right now. It might not be the deep experience TRPG veterans would want, but its charm more than makes up for any of its shortcomings.