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Hands-on with ChromaVaders, A Compelling Mash-Up of Galaga and Columns

Gaming article by Robert N. Adams on August 12, 2019 at 2:14 PM
Preview

Play NYC always brings out a bunch of interesting games and the 2019 show at the Metropolitan Pavilion was no different. A select handful of the games make me go, "Huh, why didn't anyone think to do this before?" ChromaVaders by Corundum Games is exactly that type of game.

Essentially, ChromaVaders mashes up the gameplay of Galaga and Columns. (If you're not familiar with those specific titles, you could substitute Space Invaders and any Match 3 game in your head). Players will command a spaceship that begins at the bottom of the screen and shoot colored aliens at the top of the screen.

 

What happens after they're shot is where things get interesting; take a look at this development trailer from just a few days ago to get an idea of how it all works.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H56s61QBr-w

 

The enemies, once shot, will immediately turn into falling colored blocks with a particular shape on them. These blocks will land below you. That is, unless, you happen to be in their way—then they'll instantly destroy you.

I went hands-on with ChromaVaders at Play NYC 2019 and it is deceptively challenging. Your goal isn't just to shoot the enemy ships and get them to turn into blocks; you're trying to line up three of the same color and shape in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The ships also happen to be shooting various different attacks at you, making playing this game competently all the more challenging.

 

In short, you'll have to juggle several things at the same time:

  1. Dodging incoming enemy attacks.
  2. Shooting blocks to get them to land below you where they'll line up combos.
  3. Avoiding the blocks you've just shot so they don't instapop you.
While I didn't see it in action, I imagine that this likely also mixes the hazards of both Galaga-type games (don't let the ships get to the bottom of the screen) and Match 3/Tetris-style games (don't let the blocks get to the top). I would have loved to see what would have happened, but I had a minor problem where I kept blowing up repeatedly.

chroma vaders jesse talavera greenberg
Jesse Talavera-Greenberg of Corundum Games demonstrates what a competent ChromaVaders player looks like. (It doesn't look like any of my attempts ever.)

Try as I might, I just couldn't juggle the three important things needed to play ChromaVaders well. Whether I played against the A.I. or against a human opponent, I inevitably got shot by a laser or smashed by a block. Multiplayer scenarios were even more challenging as the enemy player hitting a combo would drop junk blocks onto my screen.

Corundum Games' Jesse Talavera-Greenberg said that ChromaVaders is still very much in development and he's still experimenting with gameplay, so a lot of what I've talked about here may change in the future. One thing he's floated is the removal of lives altogether. Aside from that, he's also working on building a community in the hopes of getting the game on Nintendo Switch.

 

I had a lot of fun playing ChromaVaders at Play NYC 2019. If this sounds like the sort of game you'd like to play, you can download it for yourself at itch.io right now completely for free for PC, Mac, and Linux. You can also check out the developer on Twitter and on its official website.

What do you think of ChromaVaders? Do you enjoy games that mash up genres or do you prefer a more vanilla experience? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

A photograph of Robert N Adams

Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!