Combo Crew has a storyline that harkens back to the classic coin op era, where "a bad guy steals your girlfriend" or "the terrorists have the president" is enough for a couple of dudes to run off and save the world by putting their fists in people's faces. In Combo Crew, the villian (aptly named Boss) runs the world, and he has a big tower-like building from which he operates. He invites the greatest warriors in the world over and then captures them and enters them in his own tournament to work up to the top of the tower, simply so he can show he can beat the best.
The Game Bakers have developed an intriguing system. Instead of relying on a clunky virtual d-pad to move your character, you pound away on the enemies by slashing across their body. There are three core movements: a single swipe makes a single punch on a person: good for moving across the arena to a new area to get out of the way of a powerful attack, but weak. Two finger swipes start a pounding combo: good for taking down the enemy, but if someone attacks while you're in the middle of a combo you find yourself hitting the floor quickly. Lastly, a single finger and hold charges up a power hit that can break through an enemy's block. Variations on the direction of the sliding will alter what attacks your characters do (attacks and new characters are purchased with in-game credits), so an experienced player will eventually know which attacks they can pull off before an enemy attacks, giving ample time to turn around and counter.
At first, the no d-pad turned me off, but then I realized what the Game Bakers are trying to do: provide a true arcade experience. Arcade twitch games ported to an iOS device inherit clunky controls that aren't as responsive. Approaching this game with the quick reflexes needed to play games like Fruit Ninja are necessary to succeed. Twitch gameplay combined with uniquely designed characters that are instantly recognizable and enemies that look like they could have been pulled from the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World video game add up to an easily memorable experience that will draw you back in. Classic arcade stylings fit with quick iOS gameplay, best shown by the announcer, who can go back and forth between "AWESOME COMBO" and "FAIL" five times in as many seconds. A perfect combo to finish a level is a difficult and satisfying achievement.
The "Crew" part of the game is what is meant to keep you coming back: leaderboards abound that you can share via Facebook and Game Center. You can compete for high score, or call in help: your friend plays a round and can give you an increase to your life or stats if they succeed at a level you are having trouble with.
Combo Crew released today, and is on the iOS store at this link and Android here for $1.99. If you're a brawler fan, or enjoy twitchy games like Fruit Ninja, you're sure to enjoy this game. Make sure you check out the rest of the Game Bakers' titles as well!