Dynamite with a laser beam and guaranteed to blow your mind.
The arcade version of Killer Queen debuted in 2013, and if you’ve been lucky enough to find yourself somewhere that has a cabinet, you’ve likely seen crowds of people shouting, cheering, and buzzing around and about this game. While I haven’t had the pleasure of playing the arcade version since arcades have been replaced with “net cafes” in my town, at PAX West this year I have learned what all the hype is about, and I just want to play more.
For the uninitiated, Killer Queen Black is the name of the Switch game coming out this winter. This version differs slightly from its arcade brethren as the player count has gone from 5v5 to 4v4 and the arenas are about 20 percent smaller. But the frantic gameplay, close calls, and simple controls are still here. There are three victory conditions for players to work towards: an economic victory requires using your three Drones to collect and deliver small purple berries back to your spawn point; military victory requires using your Queen to kill the opponent’s Queen three times; and a snail victory involves a type of tug of war where a Drone tries to ride a central snail to his or her side’s finish line.
In the demo I played, teams of four players squared off in best-of-five matches on three different stages. The stage select screen revealed a total of six stages, but the other three stages were locked for this demo. There is a good variety to the stages, with spawn points and objectives moving around and becoming easier or harder depending on the stage. In one stage, the snail track was shorter, so it was more important to monitor this victory condition or seize upon the chance to get the snail to your goal. Another stage had a section cut out of the ceiling and floor, and movement from the top to the bottom of the stage required ducking down or up through these gaps.
Played using the Switch pro controller, the joy-con grip, or even a single joy-con, Killer Queen Black uses a simple control scheme, but movement and actions are simple and easy to pull off. The queen flaps her wings with repeated button presses and dives at opponents with sideways and downward thrust attacks. The drones pick up berries automatically but they can throw the berries towards their hive to deposit them or throw the berries at opponents to stun them. The pace of the game is fast and frantic, but not wildly so, and there is a dance-like grace to the flow of the game. Balancing offense and defense is crucial to winning each match.
Killer Queen Black has a colourful, retro-looking aesthetic that underpins its arcade roots, but make no mistake, this game is (you’ve heard this before) perfect for Switch. Online multiplayer will be the primary method of playing the game, and the developers have instituted a neat feature where certain matches will be broadcast online for everyone to watch. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long to get Killer Queen Black on our Switch consoles. Keep your eyes open for this title. The hype around this game is palpable and deservedly so, and the release is just around the corner.