Folks, it’s National Boss Day, so let’s celebrate the best bosses there are! That’s right, let’s appreciate video game bosses! I totally planned on putting this up today and wasn’t writing about this around the same time by sheer coincidence!
Typically, the way boss battles work in games is that the boss just hides out in a room, waiting for the player to stroll right in. But wait, why should the boss stay in that room? They’re stronger than the player character, right? Why wait around for the hero to show up in their room that for some reason contains things that expose their weakpoint? Wouldn’t it be better to catch them off-guard while the hero’s fighting their flunkies?
Well, Kill the Superweapon explores exactly that!
In Kill the Superweapon, by Tales of the Renegade Sector/Alec Stamos, you play as saboteur Samantha Kill, who’s on a mission to undermine war profiteer Abaddon Inc. The weapons manufacturer is producing Superweapons, which are engineered super soldiers that will be sold off to multiple sides in future wars. Samantha’s going out to Abaddon’s bases to hunt down the Superweapons – but it quickly becomes apparent that the Superweapons will hunt her down instead.
Sounds real serious, but the game feels goofy and lighthearted. I mean, your main character is named Samantha Kill. That rules. The superweapons are all somewhat goofy, from the lady that skates on all fours while firing weapons at you to the Actual Lizardman. Combined with the characters, the bright and colorful visuals and the upbeat music, Kill the Superweapon comes off as a nice Saturday morning cartoon.
The game is a 3D twin-stick shooter that tries to take advantage of its verticality with platforming elements. I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it allows for more creative level design, with platforming thrown into what would probably just be a normal top-down shooter in other circumstances. On the other hand though, I often had trouble judging depth, which had me messing up jumps and misjudging the elevation of enemies and shots. The reason for this is that the game presents itself as a diorama that you’re looking into, which is nice visually, but it also limits your view to front angles.
After the tutorial level, you’re thrown into the world map. There are four superweapons to fight, with you taking on the CEOs after clearing them. Of these Superweapons, Medatsu the Mystic and Roller Derby were my favorites because their stages has theming that I wish the other stages embraced. Medatsu, being a flying witch, has their stage looking like a castle, with unique robed enemies that astral project bullet versions of themselves. The latter’s stage in the meantime has a lot of sloped geometry, which gives off the vibe of a skate park.
When the level starts, you’re granted an immunity period where the Superweapon is still activating; it’s kinda like the seeker counting down for hide-and-seek. As soon as the bar at the bottom is full, the Superweapon frees themself and starts chasing you down. The Superweapon chases you room to room with a unique arsenal of weapons and while it seems easy to get away, rooms with lots of enemies or platforming will slow you down enough for them to catch up. The Superweapon is invincible, so shooting it enough will only stun it long enough to give you some distance.
To actually hurt these things, you have to fire your special gun at them! Oh, you need special batteries to actually fire it? Ah. So, while the latest crime against humanity hunts you down like Mr. X, you’re scrambling around the level to find batteries to fight back. After getting a battery charge, you have to stick around in a room long enough with the Superweapon for the weapon to lock on.
I really enjoyed this whole gameplay concept. It’s legitimately nervewracking to slowly platform across a room, only to have the boss bursting in to ruin your day. I liked all the bosses – except the lizard man. He tries to rush you down and because of his large hitbox, I usually ended up getting hit twice – thrice if he immediately does a tail swiping attack afterward. Everybody else is cool though, and I respect them in spite of being walking war crimes.
Kill the Superweapon culminates in one of the most satisfying boss rushes I’ve ever played in a game. And by boss rush, I mean “every boss in the game tries to rush you down.” In this climactic moment, you have to grab batteries and operate a machine that produces more as everybody comes after you. And yes, multiple bosses can and will exist in the same room – and you can also hit multiple bosses with one battery charge, which is really satisfying yet risky to do.
I did run into a few softlocks in my time playing. Like, toward the end of that video I posted, the game didn’t transition me to the next room and Samantha Kill was sent hurtling through the void. I also ran into this other issue where I backed out of a room while the boss was still exploding, which ended up keeping them alive in an unkillable state. The levels are quick to play through though, so it’s not too big of a setback.
For more nitpicky stuff, I kinda wish that batteries you found but didn’t pick up were marked down on the map. As somebody that forgets things in the heat of the moment, I think it’d be a nice quality of life thing. And also, I don’t know if it’s a result of me playing in fullscreen, but the text the characters say is just too small.
Overall, despite having issues with the 3D space, Kill the Superweapon is a fun exploration of a neat gameplay concept. For National Boss Day, celebrate the bosses that matter in your life and let them chase you around a research complex.