GoGo dysfunctional-and-mentally-dubious Power Rangers!
Five characters voguing in a single frame, striking Mighty Morphin Power Rangers poses on an endless loop. One theme song lasting about a minute and a half. Seven monsters. And yes, eight colors. Developer Andrea Demetrio seems to intentionally push the limits of minimalism, for the sake of effect. Does 8 Color Star Guardians successfully pull it off, though?
It does. Allow me to explain myself; This game is nuts in a fearless and careless way. It plays and looks like the game I dreamt of building when I was toying around with QBASIC on your parents’ DOS PC, back in the day. It captures that loose spirit of defining your own rules of what is fun. Combine that free spirit with a precise and finely-tuned gameplay loop, and you have 8 Color Star Guardians.
The game revolves around a slightly unhinged group of young protagonists brought together by V’itri, a superpowered alien sworn to rid the universe of the evil space prince Barion and his intergalactic monsters. The all-female power quintet must defeat six monsters to save the planet before everyone on our precious dirt ball gets absorbed as a source of energy for the evil space invader.
The gameplay loop involves nothing more than a boss rush mode with turn-based combat, akin to a JRPG. You choose an enemy, battle it, and upon defeating it, you are rewarded with new abilities. You’re free to choose which of the remaining monsters to fight. Given that certain monsters have weaknesses for abilities you might not have unlocked yet, it constantly makes you doubt your decisions, much like the Mega Man games. Since you can only use three Guardians at the same time, experimentation is key to finding the ideal combination for the monster’s weakness and the order in which you use your team members.
The battles are short and fierce. Teaming up the wrong members for a specific monster can easily result in your team getting wiped out, sometimes in a single blow. The need for strategic use of abilities makes the battle system methodical and stylistically falls somewhere between an RPG and a puzzle game.
In between battles, your characters bond (or argue) with banter dialogue that is both very funny and eyebrow-raising at times. The characters dish out remarks that span the whole spectrum of human emotions, like a condensed Twitter soap opera. The banter also establishes a dark yet charming little story that unfolds throughout the chapters the game presents.
Once you clear the first chapter, you unlock a second chapter that continues the story and introduces two additional monster battles. Moreover, an Arcade mode becomes available after completing the story mode, stripping away the narrative and diving into full-on boss rush mode.
More than meets the eye
All in all, beyond the primary-colored facade, a free-spirited little game presents itself with charming 1 fps animations, colorful and imaginative monster designs, plot twists, and crazy yet heartfelt character interactions. I found myself bobbing my head to the endlessly repeated Mighty Morphin theme song throughout the game. Yes, it’s the same chords but with a different progression. The Power Rangers homage is, of course, quite apparent, but I also caught some other pop culture references as well.
Is there anything wrong here? Yes, of course. It is light on content where you can finish the first chapter within one sitting. The battle system, with its buffs and nerfs, is still (perhaps too) simple to really set your teeth into. Monster attacks feel scripted, so much that you can learn it’s attack sequences a bit too easy. Much like the tips you receive when you die or retreat. The dialogue is aimed to help you but the game essentially tells you whom to choose and what abilities to use. Most disappointing is that after every death against the final boss, V’itri gives every team member a 20% power boost, which felt unnecessary. I was on the verge of beating the final boss single-handedly when the game decided to carry me, after I made a technical error. It giving me no option to redo the battle with the same set of circumstances. So, if you are seeking a challenge, 8 Color Star Guardians might not be for you. The game’s charm is that it keeps purposely incredibly simple, but fun, charming, and witty at the same time.
- Well executed graphical minimalism gimmick
- Witty and charming dialogue
- Addictive gameplay loop
- A bit thin on content
- The game tumbles over it self to help and carry the player