This indie-developed, free-to-play mobile title aims to bring Turn-Based Strategy to a mainstream audience and “become the Hearthstone of its genre” – and its well on track.
The esports scene gets greater recognition every second. Games like Blizzard’s Hearthstone have not only set precedence that games designed for competitive play can succeed worldwide, but it’s possible to give niche genres, like card battlers, a wider appeal and adapt them for both the casual and hardcore players.
Super Senso will become Turbo Studios bet on this growing market, and also its first finished project. Jon Yao, the creative director of the game (which also worked on Nintendo: Next Level Games’ titles Punch Out!! and Luigi Mansion: Dark Moon), talks about how “There’s a lot of niche players in that turn-based strategy game genre” while many new players would love it, but are “afraid to get into it”.
These words come as no surprise, as the studio has cited Nintendo’s Advance Wars as the most direct inspiration to their game, which you might or not recognize as a great exponent of how heavily the Turn-Based Strategy genre (TBS from now on) can go into the “play hard or go home” territory.
The name “Super Tenso”, which translates to “Super War”, also gives some semblance of Super Robot Wars (AKA Super Robot Taisen outside Japan) which, just like Advance Wars, is an all kinds of no-newcomers-friendly franchise; and with which Super Tenso also shares focus on Mecha fighters (in this case, the Senso – Japanese-like Mecha helpers to the main units that consist of not only humans, but also Dinosaurs, Zombies, “Catz”, and who knows what more).
Turbo plans turning the stern rules into a more welcoming form, in order to make it easily blend into the competitive scene: just like in Advance Wars, the tides of battle are not decided by individual units but by how you use many of them – that is, there is little room for customization on single units because you will be mass producing them; each kind of Unit has specific jobs (melees, snipers, catapults, etc.) and the strategy comes in deciding which kind of unit to produce and where to position them on the field.
This eliminates the “Overpowered Unit” problem that would plague similar games, specifically Strategy RPGs more focused on character development, like Fire Emblem or Disgaea, should they ever attempt to tap into the competitive scene.
This is extra important for a mobile esport experience, since the customization factor can jeopardize the playerbase if some players have easier access to stuff than others. With the mass producing approach, everyone is assured to have the equal resources in every battle, and players can focus their time on improving their actual skill, as the only benefits of microtransactions will be aesthetical bonuses like skins.
Speaking of the mobile experience, Super Senso has kept a “blocky, low-poly art style” not only for its adorable looks, but to make it less resource intensive on mobile devices (and on the developer’s graphical team, of course). The game has also faced many iterations of its UI to make it as mobile friendly as possible, the actual now being its seventh, Yao told Polygon – the battle grid so characteristic of the genre remains invisible until a player needs it (when moving), as does the rest of the information like unit stats and other number which could cluster the screen otherwise.
For the matches themselves, the only objective is to destroy the enemy base, and Turbo has taken its precautions: a 2-minute limit for turns and an “Orbital Strike” available to players are there to prevent them from “turtling” up and build resources for too long, instead incenting them to face each other fast, with each match ideally lasting for 5 to 10 minutes; a very important decision since single-player TBS are usually played over long periods of time and reward such “stockpile, stockpile more and then explode” tactics.
Super Senso is planned to launch early 2016 on Andoird and iOS, with the possibility of cross-compatibility. Beta Sign-Ups are available on the game’s website.