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  • John Bush

Game Review #440: Killer Queen Black (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B Developer: Liquid Bit LLC Publisher: Liquid Bit LLC Category: Action, Strategy, Platform, Arcade, Fighter, Multiplayer Release Date: 10.11.2019 (Digital) / 10.25.2019 (Physical) Price: $19.99 (Digital)/$29.99 (Physical)

Buy Killer Queen Black from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Killer Queen Black from Amazon here.

Multiplayer Madness

If you’re in the market for a fast-paced, fun multiplayer arena game that’s heavy on strategy and teamwork, we’ve got some good news for you today. Killer Queen Black for the Nintendo Switch from developer Liquid Bit checks all of those boxes – but you may want to either find the mute on your headset or play with some friends on your own couch. You also have to place a heavy emphasis on the multiplayer aspect – there are some short tutorial levels to get you started, but the real game is multiplayer-only. That usually bugs me a little bit, but I didn’t mind so much here for various reasons – but let me get back to that part later. First, let’s talk about the game a little.

Kill the Queen, Ride the Snail, Collect the Berries

Killer Queen Black is built around fast-paced action-platforming gameplay concepts that incorporate strategy and teamwork. You can play as either one of three drones or the queen, who each have different skills and strengths. Drones start off pretty weak; they can’t attack on their own, they can only collect berries, jump around, and ride the snail in the level. They can take a berry to a weapon pod and grab a weapon, which turns them into a soldier, enabling them to attack but removing their ability to ride the snail or collect berries. Dying will reset a soldier to regular drone mode and you have to grab a weapon again, if you so choose – but drones have unlimited lives, so don’t be too afraid of dying to take one for the team. There are a variety of weapons to choose from, like swords, guns, and maces, that each have different attack speeds and ranges.

Queens can attack from the get-go, but can never collect berries or ride snails (they are the queen, after all – that’s drone work). They can also claim weapon pods by touching them. Drones from an enemy team can’t get weapons out of that pod unless their queen claims it back, which makes for an interesting strategic element. If one side has all the pods claimed it gets tough for the other team to defend themselves or do anything offensive. Queens can attack vertically as well as horizontally, whereas drones with weapons can only attack horizontally. Queens are limited to only using their sword, however, and they only have three lives – if a queen dies three times, their side loses.

Killing a queen three times isn’t the only victory condition, however. There are three paths to victory; military victory is the first, and that’s what the game calls killing the opposing queen three times. Each team also has a hive with many empty spots; placing a berry in all of your hive’s spots is an economic victory. Finally, there is the snail victory. Each team has a flag that matches their team’s color; riding the snail to your team’s flag also results in victory. Only drones can achieve the second two victory types, but it helps to have the queen and/or some soldiers running defense for you.

Think Before You Act, But Don’t Think Too Long

The game action moves pretty quickly; a standard game is a best two out of three matchup, with the first team to get to three wins being declared the winner. You can play in casual matches or the game’s ranked mode, for which I never completed all of the necessary ranking matches because I already know I’m not very good. I’m just here to write a review and have some fun. Anyway, coordination is key for success; most of the time I was playing with random teams that didn’t communicate. When you’ve got four players all doing their own thing, you’re probably going to lose every time. The game worked best when I had a team that was talking together, deciding things like what victory type to focus on and calling out the enemy’s strategy when they saw something. When everything comes together that way, Killer Queen Black is as fun a game as I’ve played recently. When it doesn’t, well…

Online Play Comes With Online Problems

The game’s biggest drawback comes from its online-only setup. I never had any connectivity issues while playing, which can be a huge problem for a new multiplayer title, so I was relieved that everything worked OK. Finding a team never proved a problem either, so that’s common multiplayer game stumbling block number two taken care of. Even on the few occasions when I couldn’t find a game with a full roster, the game will fill the blank slots with bots that kind of suck, but kind of don’t. They’re average, I guess? Still, once the action gets going, you’ll hardly notice you’re playing with AI.

But the online part can be a double-edged sword; sure, it’s fun to play with people around the world, but what if one of them has a laggy connection? I played a few matches where my team’s queen was lagging behind, and as a result the other team claimed all the weapon pods, leaving us defenseless – also, our queen was just kind of sitting there, waiting to be killed at any given time. If your queen has a bad connection, then you’re basically screwed. Or, what if one of your teammates is dominating the chat arguing with his mother over what to get for dinner? Or screaming way worse stuff? Multiplayer gaming veterans may be used to this kind of stuff, but it still grinds my gears every time.

These things aren’t the game’s fault at all, but they can negatively affect the experience. A good community is the key to a successful multiplayer game’s longevity. I had better luck with this in ranked qualifier matches, since the players in those matches were probably taking things more seriously. Playing unranked matches is probably a good idea to start so you can get used to the game’s controls, but it is where I encountered the worst teamwork and least communication. Multiple players can go online with the same console, which is a good way to overcome that last problem since you’re playing with people you like who, presumably, will not interrupt the game to argue with their parents about upcoming meals.

Killer Sound Track

Killer Queen Black’s graphics are pretty cool; they’re very simple pixel-based sprites and backgrounds that look as good as any pixel-art game you’d care to mention. The biggest issue is that the game screen is zoomed all the way out, meaning characters look pretty small and the action can be hard to track when there’s a bunch of stuff going on. Still, the game looks good – but not as good as it sounds. Sure, the sound effects are fine; some bleeps and bloops to signify contact or a pod changing possession, but it’s the rock-n-roll soundtrack that really sets KQB apart. The wailing guitars and thundering drums blasting out of my speakers got me pumped to play every time I booted up the game.

Regicide At Its Finest

Killer Queen Black is not a complex game, though it has some depth to its strategy. That makes it a perfect multiplayer experience; whether you’re just popping your cartridge in for the first time or you have a few rounds under your belt, everyone starts out on an equal footing. Certainly experience gives some players an advantage, but the straightforward paths to victory will enable players to get into the swing of things fairly quickly, and the quick pace of the game means defeat doesn’t need to be a long-lasting experience. The biggest issue with the game that I found is that occasionally other players have their own network issues or online etiquette issues; that’s hardly the game’s fault, though. It looks good, it plays fast, and it sounds great – Killer Queen Black has it all.

Score: 10/10

Buy Killer Queen Black from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Killer Queen Black from Amazon here.

Follow Liquid Bit LLC

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*A game code was provided for review purposes.

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