According to Adult Swim’s newest game, Super Comboman, the fanny pack is back. Scoff if you please, but that scoff will die in your throat when you see the ratatatat of Struggles’ fists as he beats down the badguys while looking like a complete goober. Super Comboman brings loads of charm to its take on the beat ‘em up genre… if only it brought a bit more substance.

Beat ‘em ups are best with a simple story, and Super Comboman doesn’t disappoint with a tale of the good-hearted Struggles who wants to get a job and be like his hero, Comboman, more than anything. During Struggles’ struggle you’ll traverse numerous stages in such varied locales as construction sites, and construction sites with palm trees in the background. Along the way you’ll punch some faces, learn some new moves, and hit some buttons— no, make that a lot of buttons. A good beat ‘em up needs to have a strong variety of enemies, and Super Comboman just doesn’t deliver. Like the levels themselves, there’s a painful lack of variety to your foes. Be prepared to face off against a seemingly endless horde of identical malicious construction workers.

Adult Swim Games

The lack of enemy variety might be more forgivable if Struggles were a bit more fun to play as, but alas, it isn’t so. He’s got a moderately-sized arsenal, but the controls are so cantankerous it’s hard to find a proper groove. Struggles runs fast, jumps slow, and punches about a half-second after you hit the button, and when the bad guys are beating you down into your own fanny pack, every second counts. The better you perform in combat, the higher your combos go, and the more money you earn to unlock additional moves and upgrades, but everything feels so floaty and off you don’t ever feel rewarded even when you’re doing well. On the plus side, you get to smash a lot of blocks and boxes, which all crack and shatter very satisfyingly, and the price distribution for Struggles’ upgrades is very even, so you can expect to acquire new moves at a fairly even pace, for the most part.

Adult Swim Games

When your controls aren’t being sluggish they’re usually being downright counterintuitive, with Struggles’ wall jump being a particularly bad offender thanks to the weird timing required and the fact that you have to press the directional stick in the opposite direction of the wall you’re touching. This goes against every fiber of your reflexes and makes something straightforward into a huge ordeal.

The graphics have an interesting concept- that Struggles and his world are all actually stickers- but the execution is awful. The character designs are fun, but they’re all marred by the giant white outlines around them and their flat animations. The sound design doesn’t fare much better. The punches, thwacks, and groans get repetitive almost instantly, and the music is utterly forgettable.

Super Comboman’s got some enthusiasm to it, but thanks to numerous technical deficiencies you’ll probably struggle to find much to enjoy about Struggles’ struggles. Unless you’re a hardcore beat ‘em up fan with nothing better to do, you’ll probably want to pass on Super Comboman.

This review is based on a downloaded copy of Super Comboman provided by the publisher for PC.

6.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating