516631_largerThe Game Bakers' second IP sees the return of their flair for captivating visuals. Combo Crew [$1.99] presents its creator's devotion to beat 'em ups with eminently satisfying panache and a spoonful of camp while, for better or for worse, stripping out one of the central tenants of the genre. It's a raucous affair that quickly and easily gratifies, but may not constitute a nutritious meal.

Rightfully headlining the feature list is the elimination of virtual controls. Combo Crew makes no attempt at emulating the stick and buttons iconic of the quarter-sucking, old-school arcade brawler. Instead, the capacitive screen's unique functionality is utilized to wrap the action in swipes and pokes. Within the confines of a small rectangular arena, targets are chosen with a tap or a single finger swipe attack. Your choice of character swiftly slides to face his or her victim, delivering the blow from an automatically pegged adjacent position.

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A double finger swipe in one of the cardinal directions initiates whichever combo you've slotted, unleashing a flurry of fists, feet, and hair on whomever your attention is vested on while building up a meter for a super attack. Enemies flash an obvious red exclamation point signaling their intentions, a single tap anywhere on the screen schedules a counter for your character's next free moment.

It feels wonderful. Mashing is nonexistent and input responsiveness is tight. Furiously scribbling your finger over enemies to string them into supers is a cathartic release. The 3D models plopped onto 2D backgrounds whirl and jolt with slick animations. A rhythm of combos and counters quickly emerges, all wrapped in satisfyingly impactful feedback. But it breaks down.

Combo Crew's main attraction ushers in a problem of varying severity, depending on your predilections. Engineering a touch-only game of this sort is certainly a commendable feat, but the automaticity of the scheme limits the extent to which skill may develop. Positioning is handled for you: enemies approach one at a time, and the different opponent types – hell, even the bosses – can be successfully handled with the exact same tactics.

This is not a game that rewards mastery. I'd go as far as to say that mastery harms the experience. Combo Crew can, quite literally, be played with your eyes closed if you figure things out.

Still, it's great fun for what it is. A light self-aware kung-fu movie corniness accompanies you as you ascend the baddie's tower, pinballing between and beating the everloving schlamoley out of enemies. Unlike Game of Death, however, the fights on each tier are always the same.

Combo Crew is a bowlful of Doritos. Something craveable. Something flavorsome and wonderfully crunchy, but still mostly empty carbohydrates.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • toxiccheese

    Cool game. Great controls. But for me it is way too repetitive. I just did not like how it was just the same thing level after level. A real swipe-masher. Not enough depth. After a few hours I decided there wasn't much beyond the frantic swiping.

    • themostunclean

      I find unlocking the new combos and the challenges that requires to be fairly rewarding.

      The review was fairly accurate- it's junk-food, compulsive gaming. However that's usually the best type of game for iOS. In that respect I believe the devs nailed it.

    • Ben Norvell

      My thoughts exactly.

  • kioshi

    I agree with this review. Still love the game tho, because even if you aren't a high score chaser, this is hella fun, I can't play for too long but when I do I find it absolutely delightful.

  • themostunclean

    Can't stop playing this game.

    The Game Bakers have a great talent for working with touch screen controls. There's just something so satisfying about the way they implement them. Mobile devices have the potential to be even better gaming devices if more developers took the time to build games that work with the unique interface instead of trying to cram console/arcade controls onto a touch screen.

    Of course there are still nimrods in the App Store reviews and on forums asking for a d-pad.

  • kadoore

    what sucks is theres only five people you can play as

    • Mrwubbs

      Four.

  • Benegesserit

    The reviewer appears to thrive on hifalutin verbage.

  • l3aper

    I don't know about you guys but I could eat Doritos for the rest of my life

    • garret44

      Hahaha!! Awesomeness, this made my night

  • Bob

    Did that guy just say "automaticity?"

  • shaver

    Ignoring the "I don't think that word means what you think it means" moments, I don't understand how fun-but-shallow gets to 4 stars. Is "mostly empty carbohydrates" a compliment that I'm too old to understand?

    • Adams Immersive

      I take it to mean that the shallowness isn't severe enough to remove more than one star.

      (Stars never matter much if you read the text anyway. The text is far more useful.)

      • shaver

        That's reasonable, yeah. Star ratings are often the filter I use to decide what reviews to read, but that is likely a bad choice on my part.

Combo Crew Reviewed by Kris Goorhuis on . Rating: 4