Side-scrolling brawlers are a difficult genre to get right. The genre goes all the way back to the mid-80s, and video games have tried to emulate or evolve this concept ever since. The issue here though is after decades of the same kind of games most of these brawlers wind up being dreadfully generic and boring unless the developer does something major to set itself apart. Developer Mango Protocol's Colossus Down not only falls into these same trappings, but also suffers from poorly designed combat and satirical comedy that misses the mark.
In Colossus Down you take control of an angry seven year old girl named Nika who has grown tired of the world around her. With a genius level intellect she believes herself to be far superior to everyone in her life and she decides to destroy all the things that she deems not awesome. How does she plan to do this? Obviously by creating a massive combat mech that is armed to the teeth and is promptly dubbed MechaNika. Her game plan then becomes to travel to the locations of things she despises the most and eliminate them from the face of the earth.
Colossus Down's MechaNika comes equipped with four different weapons that can be used to dispatch Nika's enemies. She is able to swing a saw blade with one arm, a shock emitter with another, a long ranged grenade launcher, and can even dash to smash into enemies. Each of these attacks are useful in different situations or against specific enemies. The saw blade is perfect for dealing damage whereas the shock emitter is better used for stunning a large group of enemies. You will want to use the grenade launcher to dispatch foes from afar, and dash at enemies to close the distance or to escape large groups.
By defeating enemies in combat or destroying parts of the environment you can acquire pieces of scrap that at the end of missions can be converted into the MechaNika's core level, which effectively makes them experience points. Every time that you ascend to a new level in Colossus Down, the MechaNika gains an upgraded version of its standard attacks that can be activated by holding the Ctrl button before attack. These are much more powerful, but using them repeatedly will overheat the MechaNika's system and eventually cause it to explode.
Colossus Down's humor is outdated and lacks self-awareness, and even its generic Beat 'Em Up combat doesn't always work the way that it should.
That really sound like a downside, but frankly there are no repercussions to the MechaNika blowing up. Whether from using special attacks or by taking damage the MechaNika will overheat fairly often, but will respawn almost immediately afterwards like nothing ever happened. Essentially this means that there are no punishments for dying because you don't have to restart from a checkpoint nor lose experience points upon death. Death just becomes a minor inconvenience that takes you out of the action. There is an option make death more permanent, but it on the other hand is more punishing hardcore style mode that the majority of players won't want.
At the same time it is a good thing that Colossus Down doesn't punish players for dying, because they will probably die fairly often due to its kind of busted combat system. Like most 2D brawlers the player has the ability to move vertically and horizontally in order to fight against enemies. The issue here though is that the MechaNika is really only able to attack in four directions, whereas enemies tend to be able to attack diagonally as well. This gives all enemies in the game a big advantage over the player as three or four enemies can attack the player simultaneously, and the MechaNika can only hit one of them. At the end of the day though even if the combat system was a little more functional, it doesn't add anything interesting to the genre anyway.
One of my bigger issues with the game though is its attempts at satirical comedy that just feels woefully outdated or obvious. One whole section of Colossus Down is based around jokes about the video game industry. 95% of these jokes are about the repetitive structures of Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed or the battle royale genre. Not only are these jokes very played out, but its not a good look coming from a game that barely even attempts to be anything other than a Beat 'em Up that released in 1987.
By far one of the worst part of Colossus Down's comedy is that there is a Donald Trump caricature in the first section of the game, who winds up being the final boss of that area. The things that the President of the United States does and says in the real world are already crazy and ridiculous enough that trying to make effective comedy out of him is nearly impossible. Colossus Down hardly makes an effort though and just goes for the same tired old Trump caricatures that have been used repeatedly over the last few years.
Colossus Down really struggles to give itself a unique identity. The protagonist Nika is a fun enough character to embody, but most of the other characters in the game are either annoying or outdated tropey caricatures. Combat as well is horribly repetitive and puts players at a severe disadvantage. Nika herself wants nothing more than to destroy everything repetitive and not awesome about the world, and I imagine if she saw her own game it would be the first thing to go.
TechRaptor reviewed Colossus Down on PC using a Steam code provided by the developer. It is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X.
- Solid Graphics
- Great Main Character
- Unique Setup
- Repetitive Gameplay
- Poorly Designed Combat
- Outdated and Generic Humor
- Lack of Self Awareness