'Super Senso' Is The Game 'Advanced Wars' Fans Have Been Waiting For

super senso

The video game industry doesn't like to take risks. Strange ideas that have never been attempted are usually ignored Why take a chance on something that can lose money when you can just recreate another game’s success with brighter colors or more paywalls? The mobile game landscape is filled with what developers claim is “the next Hearthstone ” when in reality, it’s just a reskin or a shameless rip off.

TURBO, an indie game studio located in downtown Manhattan, is trying something risque:  make a game that’s entirely new. Super Senso is a turn-based action game revolving around controlling a robot and a team of units in defeating your opponent’s base, which isn’t as mundane as it sounds. I visited TURBO’s headquarters last week and sat down with CEO Yohei Ishii and Design Director Richard Liu to take a look at something different.

Super Senso And Pixelated Robot Combat

The first thing you’ll notice when taking a look at Super Senso is how stylized it is. Every mecha, unit, tree and tile is pointy and polygonal, reminding me of how Finn and Jake looked in the “Guardians Of Sunshine” episode of Adventure Time . Liu said that they were trying to go for an aesthetic that made the game’s pieces look like they could be recreated with folded paper, like papercraft.

The goal of Super Senso is to destroy your enemy’s Senso-Gate, using a constructed team of one mecha, called a Senso, and six units. At launch, there will be six to seven maps and 40 to 50 units to build a battalion with, ranging from serious snipers to zombies or dinosaurs. According to Ishii, the game originally had cats with jetpacks and hang-gliders based off the pets of TURBO employees. The felines might be gone, but the wacky aesthetic is still there.  

cats with jetpacks
There aren't any of these cats in the beta build I played, but that doesn't mean they are gone forever. Photo: TURBO

Each of the Sensos has a unique power that can be used on the battlefield. Rhino can knock units back a few tiles, Reaper is a bug that can leap on far away enemies and Chuck, who is by far my favorite, can launch allies units into enemy territory. The Senso you pick doesn't limit which units you can use, but a short range tank with little mobility fits better with Chuck than a long-ranged sniper.  

Combat takes place on a grid map, with fewer tiles than a chessboard. Each player takes turns moving units and placing new ones on the board. You get a finite number of “energy” per turn to spend on new units, so resource management is a key factor in pulling off a win. You can attack your opponent’s Senso-Gate with these units, or with a giant laser that stacks up combo points when you destroy enemy units. This adds a level of strategy to the game’s win condition that keeps the game from getting boring really quickly.

The actual gameplay of Super Senso is reminiscent of a classic Nintendo game called Advanced Wars. Players would take control of small units and move them around a large board, trying to defeat as many enemy units as possible. TURBO decided that they wanted to squish down the experience without losing any of the strategic depth.

Games of Super Senzo tend to last five to seven minutes, crunching down the 40to-50 minute games of Advanced Wars. This was done by downscaling the size of the board, limiting the space in which your units can move. You are forced into combat, making the games feel extremely fast and violent.

What I think is going to make Super Senso stand out is TURBO’s attention to balance.. The team working on the game isn’t just throwing random numbers together to make units, they are constantly play-testing and reworking Sensos, units, maps and behind-the-scenes numbers.. The game’s numbers are all located server side, so if a game-breaking problem ever shows up, it can be fixed in a moment’s notice.

Unlike a lot of popular PVP games, Super Senso has no RNG in it’s actual gameplay. There are no critical strikes, unlucky card draws or elements out of the player’s control. You win or lose depending solely on your skill. Getting outplayed by a newbie is still possible, but you lost because you got outflanked or out strategized, not because a sniper dealt double damage because of a lucky dice roll.

Super Senso uses an ELO system to match players of equal skill against each other. New units can only be unlocked by playing the game, so matchmaking will make or break the player base. If a noob with barely enough units to make a team ends up fighting a max level player with every unit, it’s sure to be a stomp.

Super Senso: Final Verdict

Even though I only got a look at the beta build, I could tell that Super Senso is something special. When I asked to actually try the game, Ishii and Liu were nervous. “The game is still pretty buggy and crashes a lot so you should temper your excitement” they told me. Even with that caveat, I still jumped in head first and had a blast. After a few turns, I managed to get the hang of the game and almost managed to beat Ishii, though he will tell you otherwise.

Super Senso is launching Q1 of 2017 on all mobile platforms and I’m really excited. If this game can live up to the hype, it could become my mobile addiction. I’m not sure that it’s “the next Hearthstone ” but it’s definitely a game worthy of taking the throne.

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