Very few online indie games provide wholly exciting gameplay and I can easily say that Killer Queen Black is one of the best.
Before getting to the review, I have a fun little story about Killer Queen Black. A few years ago on my 30th birthday, my wife and I went to Portland, Oregon for a little vacation. While we were there, I spent a lot of time in used record shops as well as an awesome arcade bar that had a sweet collection of pinball tables and classic arcade cabinets. However, one arcade machine stood out as it was something actually new and exciting and that game was indeed Killer Queen. The original arcade version was for up to 10 players yet unfortunately, we couldn't get that many people to play together. Anyway, it's an absolute blast and this newly released Black version for Switch is a top-notch adaptation of it. Although only 8 players can enjoy it simultaneously, the gameplay remains as thrilling and engaging as ever.
So, what the heck is Killer Queen Black and what makes it so fun? Basically, 2 teams of 4 players battle in order to claim victory. To do so, you can accomplish 1 of 3 tasks: kill the opposing team's queen 3 times to earn a Military victory, fill your hive with berries for an Economic win, or ride a snail to your team's finish line. The basic controls involve running and jumping while queens can fly and perform dash and dive attacks. Also, regular combatants can power-up to earn the ability to attack at various terminals that can be claimed by each team's queen. Although all of this sounds complicated, it really isn't and after going through the short tutorial, you'll fully understand.
The result of this gameplay dynamic is hectic battles that will have you constantly darting your eyes across the screen to see if your enemies are trying to sneak in a Snail or Economic victory while keeping an eye on their dastardly queen. Therefore, your focus will be divided between halting your opponents' progress while progressing yourself. Needless to say, this gets super-exciting and each match is a thrilling experience. Also, when you factor in all of the ways to play, you're left with one versatile game. For example, you can play with a mix of online and local players with bots filling in missing slots which is just awesome and you can even customize matches as well as play via local wireless mode if you have more than 1 Switch among your friends. I wish more games handled multiplayer this well.
Killer Queen Black's graphics are great for 2D action as everything is retro-looking yet detailed enough to feel modern. Additionally, the animations are impressively charming, especially when you see the little soldiers react after they win and get ready for the next battle. There are 6 arenas to battle within which is a rather solid selection but I wish there was more visual variety. Primarily, I wish you could customize the characters in fun ways. Speaking of which, I can't help but compare Killer Queen Black to the phenomenal Duck Game and that allowed you to wear funny hats and there was also a lot of enjoyable quirks such as a variety of crazy weapons and equipment. I feel like Killer Queen Black could have used aspects like that in order to liven up the somewhat flat game world.
Finally, the audio in Killer Queen Black is gratifying as each onscreen event is reflected with appropriate effects and the rocking music is excellent, especially when it escalates after a match drags on for too long. With that said, there certainly isn't much music so it becomes repetitive-sounding quite early on as you'll listen to the exact same guitar riffs again and again.
Killer Queen Black is a wonderful adaptation of the modern arcade game. If you're a fan of unique online multiplayer experiences and frantic 2D action, it's a definite must-play game.
- + Superb competitive online gameplay that remains exciting for a long time
- + Sharp graphics and satisfying audio
- + Fully featured multiplayer component
- - Could use more visual variety and enjoyable quirks to liven things up
- - Music gets quite repetitive