The first time I heard about Killer Queen Black was back at E3 2018. I knew that it was originally an arcade game which recently got a planned released for Nintendo Switch and Steam. A mix of 32-bit, Super Mario Vs. plumbing mode but with bees and collecting berries.
Basically, you can win in three ways:
- Kill the Queen three times in military style.
- Collect a Set number of berries and bring them to your hive economically.
- Or ride a snail on the bottom level to your side to victory.
I had a chance to play this at Play NYC. I can confidently say that this arcade game is worth watching out for. The 8 player, 4 vs. 4 battle, balancing between three ways of winning is intense and fun. Guess you can say I’m a bee-liever. (Sorry, not sorry.)
In each team of 4, one player is the Killer Queen, while the other three are the drones. While the drones have infinite lives, the queen unit only has three. If the team’s queen dies three times, they lose. That is only one way for victory. This is where thee drones can make or break the team.
For the drones players, they are responsible for a myriad of roles. They can pick up berries and bring them back to the hive. Once you fill up the hive, victory is yours. This brings some good moments as you can kick and throw berries into your hive or to other players. A little basketball game of passing while dodging the combat-capable units.
At the bottom of the stage lies a snail. A drone can ride this snail to their side of the stage across the finish line to claim victory. This will leave you completely open to attacks unless you have someone defending you. This method can be also deterred as an opponent drone can go kamizake and sacrifice themselves and let the snail eat them and slow the opponent’s way to the goal line. It’s quite gruesome that you throw your life way and let yourself be eaten alive by a snail for the sake of the team.
As hinted, combat also plays a role. The Queen unit is capable to defend herself and take out other units. She also has the ability to control morph station for drones if she passes over one of them. The morph stations allow drones to either gain a defensive buff, like speed, an extra hit or shield. Or a drone can go offensive and change into a warrior drone, at a cost of a berry in hand. A warrior can take care of combat responsibilities like slowing the opponent’s drones of collecting berries, kill the drone riding the snail, or kill the queen directly or protecting your own queen.
This is where it gets crazy. You will have to juggle strategies on the fly, whether you want to be offensive and go after queens lives, slowing down the progress of berry collecting, or kill drones that is riding the snail. Or do you protect your queen at all cost, sacrificing drone method to win? This is the major appeal of the game. A queen can do so much, but she only has three lives to do it. She is already marked. Drones have infinite lives, but many responsibilities to juggle. What do you do? The hectic and switching strategies had me many times screaming to either protect the queen or bring the snail for victory.
Personally, I didn’t mind being a drone as I can sneak my way through with my berries and throw them to my hive for victory. Should the situation calls for it, I can ride the snail to make progress on that front, and if I have a berry in hand, use a morph station to change to a warrior and go after the queen. This can be really fun with a bunch of friends or the right teammates.
The roles can be summed up as this:
- DON’T DIE
- Kill the other Queen
- Kill Opponent Drones
- Touch and Control Morph Stations as much as you can.
- Protect Your Queen
- Bring Berries to your Hive
- Ride the Snail to Your Side
- If you morph to a Warrior Drone: Kill Opponent Drones or the Queen herself
Some nice details to point out is that whenever a criteria for victory has been met, it zooms in on the point and player that is responsible for the victory. At the end of the set match, you see your stats on how you did and accolades for players performance, like killing the queen 3 times ala hat-trick. Or throwing berries to your hive with the accolade “He’s On Fire”, paying tribute to NBA Jam.
Overall, I came out of the demo very satisfied. From its fast paced gameplay and emphasis on teamwork and strategy, Killer Queen Black is a title that is worth its weight in honey and the buzz around it.
Killer Queen Black is scheduled for Q1 2019 for Nintendo Switch and Steam.