What The Tom's Team Played This Weekend: 'Chroma Squad'

Children love to obsess over things. My niece knows every scene from "Moana," my nephew regularly quizzed everyone around him on the names of every character in "Thomas the Tank Engine," and I personally used to watch every minute of "Power Rangers" that aired. It comes as little surprise, then, that my childhood obsession with stunt doubles beating on each other in spandex jumpsuits would lead me to Chroma Squad.

Chroma Squad is what happens when you put "Power Rangers," a management simulator, and a turn-based tactical RPG in a blender. The game tasks you with managing a new TV studio devoted to a show that's so similar to "Power Rangers" it almost hurts. The individual episodes play out as turn-based tactical RPGs where you have to simultaneously defeat your opponents and keep the audience captivated by doing specific moves.

I love everything described in that paragraph. Some of my favorite games--Final Fantasy Tactics, Shining Force, and several members of the Fire Emblem series--are tactical RPGs. Having something to do in between fights is also welcome; some of those games can feel tedious because they're basically a series of battles with cutscenes in between. Managing the studio and winning over the imaginary audience keeps things fresh.

It's a good thing Chroma Squad's presentation lives up to its core design. The game's developers clearly understood that part of the reason "Power Rangers" was (and can still be) so appealing is the fact that it embraces the kitsch. Characters don't need to be deep; they can fit into an archetype. Scripts don't need to make sense. Nothing matters as much as having fun, and that's exactly what this game offers.

All of this is wrapped up with pixel art and a soundtrack reminiscent of the early days of modern gaming. Chroma Squad isn't the best looking or sounding game out there, even among the nostalgic throwbacks it unabashedly emulates, but it still carries its own charm. That's exactly what I want when I look for something to play in between work, competitive titles like Overwatch and League of Legends, and other responsibilities.

Because it was released in 2015, you can find Chroma Squad on GOG and Steam for just $15, and it falls as low as $2 when it goes on sale at various other stores. If you're looking for a tactical RPG, or if you simply want to see what managing a "Power Rangers" production would be like if the actors had to beat each other up, Chroma Squad is worth checking out. As I would've told you a few decades ago: It's morphin' time.

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