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Chroma Squad is an independent game by Behold Studios, mixing elements of Turn-Based Strategy, Strategy RPG, and management simulation. It's a love-letter to the Japanese Tokusatsu genre, particularly the Super Sentai series— more familiar to westerners by its American adaption, Power Rangers.

You take the role of a new, up-and-coming indie studio, managing a Sentai show. Your goal is to create a show exciting enough to draw in fans. After creating your own custom squad of five heroes in colorful costumes, it's time to begin filming. By staging battles against mooks and monsters (the Turn-Based Strategy segments), your audience will grow, and with it, your revenue. Then, by using the money gained from successful episodes, you can further enhance your show's appeal, buying new costumes, materials, special effects, advertising contracts, and more. Exciting battles, cool special effects, and good costumes will bring in more viewers. But if you slip up and produce a bad episode, expect to lose fans. If the ratings fall too low, your show will be canceled.

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The game was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign. Its release date was listed as Summer 2014, but the game was subject to several delays and it didn't make the launch window. It was finally released on PC, Mac, and Linux on April 30th 2015, but backers of the campaign could play it a little bit earlier, on April 28th. It was later released on Android and iOS on May 18th 2017, Playstation 4 and Xbox One on May 19th 2017 and on Nintendo Switch on August 1st 2019. The official website is here.


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Tropes:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of Japanese Tokusatsu.
  • All Your Colors Combined: The finishing move when all characters use Teamwork to attack a single enemy.
  • Anime Theme Song: Power of Love, Chroma Squad!
  • Anime Hair: Gaga has this. It's a wig.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The game will let you know when a boss's health is low enough to be finished by a finishing move, which is useful since many boss objectives involve finishing them off in such a way.
  • Alpha Strike: Discouraged! Using your Finishing Move to heavily-damage a boss or tough enemy out of the gate will actually hurt your audience rating; after all, the flashy special move is meant to be the climactic finish!
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Catnigiri calls Assault out on this in his solo chapter. A talking cat fighting by their side shouldn't be surprising when they've just teleported onto an alien spaceship.
  • Arm Cannon: One of the arms you can craft for your mecha is an arm cannon.
  • Astral Finale: The final Mecha battle takes place on top of Villain X's spaceship in orbit around the Earth.
  • Badass Bystander: While the Squad is joined by various Toku expies, they are more often joined by random passersby. This holds true even after the threats become real, and one such helper is even a member of the team who preceded Chroma Squad. The Stinger reveals that all of the "random passersby" were part of the previous team.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Lord Gaga might be a campy, comical guy, but he's also a ruthless, sadistic, and powerful alien despot.
  • Big Bad: Lord Gaga is the leader of the Alien Invasion and the direct villain responsible for all the conflicts from Season 3 onwards, and Tammy's Arch-Enemy. Villain X, his boss, is a distant Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Book-Ends: One of the first craftable armor items is a Bucket Helmet. One of the pieces of armor craftable during the final season is The Helmet of Infinite Imagination, made from the absolute highest-tier crafting materials. (It's another Bucket Helmet.)
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: There are actually TWO "fourth walls" that the characters aren't afraid to break at all.
    • The first is the SHOW's fourth wall, with characters openly talking about the lines, the narrator, script, etc during the fights.
    • And the second is the game's fourth wall. Everyone talks about gameplay elements, like how "this boss is too overpowered", "maybe next turn =)" and "nerf this damage!". Sometimes even joking about the localization.
    • You get an email from a fansite telling you to visit their website. The email then says you should check it out outside the game as well, as it is a real site.
  • Brain in a Jar: Cerebro, the central computer and wise mentor of the squad. He was originally a giant lizard creature.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • During season 2, you receive an e-mail from someone named Gaga who offers to install a device that will help boost audience numbers for your studio. You cannot refuse this offer.
    • To a lesser extent, there's also Dr. Soap's offer for either royalties, or a court battle in season 1. The game offers you a third choice (bringing him on and letting him take over the show), but if you choose it, the option will be thrown out.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: You can choose your own transformation catchphrase. The default is "Lights, Camera, Chromatize!"
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • Starting in season 3 and onwards, the game starts to shift from a light-hearted story about making a TV show to actually saving the planet from a coming monster invasion.
    • Season 5 of the Night Driver route has a particularly noticeable shift in tone, with the entire Squad kidnapped except for the Assault, Tammy's father dying, and the Assault having to fight on alone against Lord Gaga's monsters.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: One of the first e-mails you receive mentions a cat that hangs around at the studio. The cat actually fought against Lord Gaga before, and assists the Assault in the Night Driver route.
  • Chest Blaster: One of the craftable torsos for your mecha has a laser cannon as a special attack.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Once Lord Gaga's treachery is revealed in the series 3 finale, he takes the Squad out in a single attack before sending some minions to finish them off. The Lead stands up and, through sheer force of will, manages to transform for real.
  • Combination Attack: Characters can use Teamwork to strike a pose, which allows them to team up with an ally for extra damage, or increase the movement range of an ally by tossing them. If the entire squad does a combination attack, you get a Finishing Move.
  • Conversational Troping: While the game's dialogue has its fair share of Lampshade Hanging and Discussed Trope, it also veers into discussing tropes that don't actually occur in the game.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Several bosses will, upon defeat, unleash a massive attack that deals quadruple-digit damage to our heroes, usually requiring a Guest-Star Party Member or Heroic Willpower to kick in.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Naturally, given the genre the game references. Night Driver's Driver Mode causes any defeated enemy to explode, which damages surrounding enemies. If done right, it can clear a large portion of the screen in one attack.
  • Developers' Foresight: Hitting bosses with a full-member Combination Attack loses you audience unless you use it as a Finishing Move, because the audience doesn't want to see it get stale. However, hitting bosses with four- or three- member combinations grants them the 'enraged' status if they survive, which massively boosts their offense in the following round. This encourages you to divvy up your attacks between multiple enemies or buff your crew.
  • Die for Our Ship: In-universe, one e-mail will be from an obsessive fan who's convinced that two characters from the show are in love. Go against what she thinks in your reply, and she'll chew you out, even though YOU are the one making the canon of the show.
  • Dirty Coward: Lord Gaga is this. While he tries to make it out as him not really trying and finding the heroes Not Worth Killing, the final level suggests his first response to any situation where he might actually lose is to run away. In the Moonstone Ranger Route, Villain X even outright says he looks like he's running away, implying his superior is aware of this tendency of his. When Villain X finds out about his failures, the facade drops and he begs for another chance.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Don't taunt Colin's Bear... unless you want him to go from Zero-Effort Boss to One-Winged Angel. Unfortunately, Stupidity Is the Only Option, as there is no way to complete the mission without angering Colin's Bear.
  • Dumb Muscle: The Assault tends to come across as this. Causes problems in one episode of Season 5, where the Assault recklessly rushes ahead of the group and gets manipulated into knocking out their friends before the Sixth Ranger comes to the rescue. In the Night Driver route, (where the Assault is the only member of the squad available), the monsters tend to taunt them with this, claiming that without the rest of the squad, they're not much good for anything beyond hitting monsters.
  • Engrish: The narrator software is a bit buggy, as a homage to similar... translation issues.
  • Evolving Music: Many of the game's themes come in pairs: a shorter, simpler 8-bit version that plays during cutscenes, and a longer, more complex 16-bit version that plays in the missions themselves. As an example, compare Amazing Entrance and Ain't No Suit.
  • Ending Theme: Be Brave, the credits theme. Features Japanese lyrics.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Power of Love, Chroma Squad, which explains the content of the game (entirely in Japanese).
  • Flunky Boss:
    • Most bosses are surrounded by minions; some of them can even summon more minions if the fight goes on long enough. The rematch with the plant boss at the end of Act 3 is the first time a boss fights you alone (to compensate, he summons pods that explode one turn after being summoned).
    • Lord Gaga is particularly noteworthy for being a Flunky Boss whose flunkies are stronger versions of previous bosses (some of which are themselves Flunky Bosses).
  • Foreshadowing: Quite a few things hint at a larger plot beyond a group of stuntmen making their own sentai TV show.
    • When the team first find Cerebro in Techie's uncle's warehouse, judging from the lighting and debris around it, it's situated below a hole in the ceiling. Almost like it could have perhaps fallen into the warehouse from above. Like, say, from space...
    • One episode involves someone breaking onto the set and nailing their "lines" perfectly, followed by an address-less e-mail sent telling the team they are in danger.
    • Throughout seasons 2 and 3, there are increasing numbers of missions that contain mysterious new characters whose presence is evidently not in the script. Is the studio just throwing in nearby elements that prove convenient for the plot? Or are some of the "alien threats" on the show actually real?
  • Gratuitous Japanese: One of the fan mail letters you receive is from a Japanese fansubber whose letter is in English, peppered with random Japanese words.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: But of course. There's standard Sixth Ranger characters, as well as non-ranger allies like ones that have shown up in Sentai/PR on occasion. The game even lets you know beforehand if an episode will feature a guest. A proper Sixth Ranger joins your team throughout Season 5; depending on the choices you make at the end of Season 4, you can get a traditional Sixth Ranger, one of three expies of the Metal Heroes, or a Kamen Rider expy.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Zigzagged Trope. The actors have fixed real names, but you name the characters they play within the show. Curiously, even after The Reveal of Season 3, they stick to their character names, likely because that's the names the audience knows them by.
  • Hero Antagonist: The Red Samurai attacks your studio during Season 3. During Season 4, you learn he was actually trying to prevent you from using the Audience Booster to open Gaga's portals all along, and he joins you as a Guest-Star Party Member.
  • Heroic Second Wind:
    • In mecha battles, if you accrue a high enough audience score, your health gauge will refill itself if it hits zero, giving you a second chance to win. This is how the Hopeless Final Boss Fight is won: with the power of fans from across the world, not only does your mecha's HP continuously refill, but your hit rate will permanently exceed 1000%.
    • Happens in the Season 3 finale: Gaga triggers his trap and takes out the entirety of Chroma Squad for real, leaving his (non-actor) monsters to finish them off. Lead, through sheer willpower, manages to not only stand up despite their injuries, but also manages to transform FOR REAL.
  • Hero Killer: According to Tammy, Lord Gaga has killed many of Earth's heroes off screen and did something to her sister that left her permanently crippled. He also reduced Brain to the Brain in a Jar Cerebro and manages to capture Tammy and brainwash her into a mindless monster, nearly forcing the squad to kill her. (In the Sixth Ranger route, he later succeeds in doing this to one of Tammy's old friends.) In the Night Driver Route, he also kills Tammy's father, the original Night Driver (who eventually gets better due to time travel). When initially introduced, he's also more than powerful enough to take out the entire squad in one hit.
  • Home Base: In the "real" world, it's your studio. In the show, it's Cerebro's chambers.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Subverted in the original release and averted in the Director's Cut when it comes to the final battle. Villain X's kaiju form has an immense amount of HP, but when it looks like it'll be game over for you, your fans' support revives you with infinite HP and accuracy. The gameplay changes introduced by the Director's Cut, however, make it entirely possible to kill Villain X fair and square.
  • Humongous Mecha: This IS a Sentai show, after all. You can customize and upgrade it, improving its stats and giving it useful skills, including special Finishing Moves.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: Downplayed example. The game faithfully retains the odd grammar and writing of classic Sentai; the Narrator's use of such is Lampshaded, but the other characters do it too, and their use goes unmentioned.
  • It's All About Me: In the third season, your team's Leader becomes a self-centered Jerkass. This is due to influence from Lord Gaga's Audience Booster.
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: The power of imagination becomes a major plot point, as it's why your props and SFX allow you to actually fight aliens, and you can summon your mech even though it's only made of cardboard.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Subverted with Tammy if you fail to save her - while you'll miss out on the chance to recruit her as a proper ranger, The Stinger in the Night Driver route shows that she survived.
    • Also subverted with Mr. Ahbo (Tammy's father and the original Night Driver) in the Night Driver route. He gets killed by Lord Gaga fairly early on, but returns to help the squad in the final battle because of time travel. Somehow.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Lord Gaga has his comical moments, but his introduction takes the story in a much darker direction and raises the stakes from keeping your studio afloat to saving the entire world. He also actually murders people.
  • Level Editor: While the stretch goal for it wasn't reached in the original kickstarter, one was added in 2018. Notably, it's the same one used to design the game itself, so it's fairly powerful, if somewhat unstable.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Mecha battles used to be this to some extent, as your punches' accuracy relied solely on RNG. This problem could be mitigated somewhat by upgrading your Mecha's hit chance, but a string of bad rolls could easily result in taking more damage than you can handle from bosses. Fortunately, the Mecha battle mechanics were changed in the Director's Cut update: now, you have to time a button press when a scrolling cursor is over the right section of a bar (higher accuracy just makes the "good" section larger), so it's quite feasible to completely cheese mecha fights as long as you have good reflexes.
  • Missing Main Character: As part of the Night Rider path. Everyone but the Assault is captured by Gaga, leading to the Assault inheriting the Night Rider's motorcycle and belt, becoming the next Rider.
  • Make My Monster Grow: The explanation used is that the monsters have a "second life" and grow to giant size after being killed, much like Shinkenger/Power Rangers Samurai.
  • Mundane Fantastic: The show you're making is a work of fiction. The battles are staged, teleportation is done with special effects, and the monsters are simply performers in suits... but your actors can include a sapient robot, a talking beaver, and a space alien. But then, by the end of season 3, real monsters start appearing..
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • No Stunt Double: In-Universe, the Squad don't use stunt doubles, since they were stunt doubles before starting their own show and have the martial arts training to pull it off.
  • Not Quite Dead: After the team is seemingly forced to kill Tammy in the Night Rider route, she is revealed to still be alive in The Stinger.
  • One-Winged Angel: Several villains will turn giant after being defeated in 'regular' battle, making a Mecha fight needed to finish them off. A few also have multiple forms in tactical combat or during Mecha battles.
    • Colin's Bear turns from a regular dancing bear into a hideous monstrosity that's a lot more dangerous for the second part of its battle.
    • Villain X transforms from a Tin Tyrant to a hideous monster later into his boss fight.
  • The Power of Friendship and Love: These are brought up many times throughout the series. They become particularly important later in the game when the exploits of your sentai team turn out to be Real After All.
  • Pungeon Master: Most of the monsters, as well as the Assault.
  • Psycho for Hire: While Lord Gaga is the subordinate of Villain X, it's clear he loves every second of what he's doing and is a sadistic piece of work himself.
  • Real After All: Starting from the end of season 3, real monsters start appearing. Though, the narration after the game is completed questions if that was still all part of the show.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: It doesn't matter if your actors are men or women; gender makes no difference to the game. In fact, you can even play with a beaver, a robot, and/or an alien, and the game won't change.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: In-Universe. In one episode, the Techie has to leave early for a dentist appointment. The rest of the crew realizes that his/her absence would make for a good kidnapping story.
  • Rooting for the Empire : In-universe. Whenever you finish an episode, you might get see posts from fans who constantly complain that the villains never win.
  • Running Gag: The team's Scout is ALWAYS the last to teleport in or out, and often with a noticeable delay. It's never commented on.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Before being renamed "Dr. Soap", an e-mail demanding royalties or a court battle comes from Dr. Mi Ah, from his e-mail address nab@s.com, a clear reference to Haim Saban of Saban Brands.
  • Shipping: In-universe, one of the e-mails you get is from a shipper sending you 32gb of fanfics and asking if Lead/Assist or Assault/Assist is canon. It doesn't matter if those actors have the same sex or aren't even human.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • Lord Gaga attempts to force the squad to do this to Tammy after brainwashing her into a mindless monster. Thankfully, she survives regardless of whether you go through with it or not.
    • In the Sixth Ranger Route, he repeats this tactic with one of Tammy's old friends. This time, the squad has to actually kill him.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Simulation Game: You manage the studio, including the purchasing, construction, and improvement of props and costumes. This also includes hiring marketing staff, buying health insurance, and deciding where to focus your advertisement efforts. The newest update even lets you write your own episodes!
  • Sixth Ranger: Tammy, the Citrine/Moonstone ranger. Alternately, if you choose not to let her join or fail to rescue her, you can have a Mithril Hero or Rider fill this slot instead.
  • So Last Season: Built into the game. Your actors only unlock new powers whenever a new season rolls around.
  • Start My Own: The game begins when a group of unappreciated stunt doubles decide to start their own show.
  • The Stinger: Multiple:
    • If players read through the reams of lines from the narrator after beating the game, they are treated to a special scene where Brain (Cerebro, before being reduced to a Brain in a Jar) sends your predecessors to the final battle with Lord Gaga. Gaga appears in Brain's chamber to destroy him, but not before fighting a sushi cat.
    • If one goes on the Night Driver route, Techie is shown reminiscing on Chroma Squad's impact on the world and how heroism isn't really as they hoped it was, but will keep going to keep the Earth safe. Tammy comes by and invites Techie out for coffee.
  • Story Branching: There are two branches in the storyline.
    • During Season 1, you receive an email from Dr. Soap threatening litigation. The story branches in the next season depending on whether you pay royalties, offer to bring Dr. Soap on as director, or opt to settle the matter in court.note 
    • In the fourth season finale, there are three ways the story can branch depending on your actions in the final battle. In one branch, you save a brainwashed Tammy and let her on as the Sixth Ranger. In the second, Tammy is saved but not brought onto the team, and your Sentai team is joined by a Metal Heroes expy. In the third, Tammy dies during the final battle, Gaga kidnaps your entire team but the Assault, who must rescue the rest of the team with the help of a Kamen Rider expy.
  • Strategy RPG: Straddles the line between this and Turn-Based Strategy. While you don't gain experience points or level up, your units do have stats which can be improved by buying them equipment.
  • Super Mode:
    • Tammy gains a white-colored one during the Final Battle via Epiphany Comeback.
    • Night Driver has Driver Mode, which powers up attacks at the cost of taking more damage and has the added bonus of causing slain enemies to explode, damaging other enemies around them. The Night Driver power up can be seen as one for the Assault as well, as it makes them much stronger and gives them both their own moves and the Night Driver moves.
  • "Super Sentai" Stance: But of course! The most prominent ones are during the Finishing Move and when using the Teamwork ability, but the heroes will also pose like this for their Transformation Sequence, as well as just doing it randomly during their turns. During cutscenes, each hero has their own unique pose whenever they say something while in costume.
  • Take That!: Dr. Soap was originally named "Mr. Mi Ah" and is a caricature of Haim Saban of Saban Brands (with whom the developers had some legal issues): an overbearing blowhard who is unpleasant to work with.
  • Title Drop: The title refers to the default name for the Sentai team.
  • Tempting Fate: On a meta-level, the developers. Even after getting into an agreement with Saban over the game, the developers decided to hew so close to existing Sentai properties (even going so far as to cite certain ones) that after it's release, the game wasn't allowed to be distributed in certain regions. Allegedly it's because Toei became involved.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: The actor Asimobot is compliant with only two of the laws. The game doesn't elaborate on which one he disregards.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Taken Up to Eleven with Villain X, who states he only uses any weapon once. This is a literal gameplay mechanic during his boss fight, as he will take a weapon from one of his weapon bearers, use it, then only use the same attack again should he get that same weapon again.
  • Throw It In!: Happens frequently In-Universe. One Sixth Ranger and several guest allies are just random people who get caught up in the episodes and are able to play their parts perfectly. One of the Stingers reveals that all of the "random bystanders" were part of a previous squad of heroes, which explains why they were able to fit in so well.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The Leader of the squad becomes something of a self-important jerk during the third season due to all the fame going to their head. Really though, they are being mind-controlled by Lord Gaga.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Lord Gaga, while campy and comical, is also a monstrous alien invader who gets up to surprisingly horrible things for the game's tone, such as human experimentation, murder, and torture.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Lord Gaga seems to remain composed, but once alone shows he's very much having one of these, being frustrated and angry that the heroes keep 'ruining his fun.' He breaks down in complete fear and begins begging for his life when Villain X shows up.
    • When Villain X arrives, he's a smug, confident Evil Overlord who views the heroes more as an annoyance than anything. By the end, he's gone into full, screaming, Why Won't You Die? mode.
  • Wham Episode
    • Season 3 finale: The enemies that Chroma Squad has been fighting during Season 3 were actually real, and Lord Gaga has mind-controlled the Lead to help him open up portals for his invading army. Cerebro is also revealed to be an actual Brain in a Jar and not a prop, and he has chosen Chroma Squad to be the new defenders of Earth.
    • Season 4 Finale: Lord Gaga attacks Cerebro's chamber with a mind-controlled Tammy, but Chroma Squad manages to push him away before being defeated by one of Lord Gaga's monsters. It is revealed that the original Chroma Squad team was real, but Lord Gaga managed to make everyone forget it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: You receive several e-mails from an unknown sender during the course of the game warning you of imminent danger, but it's never revealed who sent them or set up a pirate antenna to try and interfere with the Audience Booster Lord Gaga set up in your studio.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each unit has a type of weapon they, alone, can use: spears for the Lead, axes for the Assault, rifles for the Techie, daggers for the Scout, and bows for the Support.
  • You Have Failed Me: Right before the final fight, Villain X slays Lord Gaga for (unintentionally) guiding the heroes to his space battleship/homebase.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Actress Mao Shinmei has green hair. Sixth Ranger Tammy has pale blue hair.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: You need fans for your Sentai show to be a success. Failure to bring in a certain number of fans by the end of the season means contract cancellation.
  • Zero-Effort Boss:
    • Muscular Pigeon is a downplayed version of the trope. While technically capable of harming your team, it is unlikely to be able to do much except on Heroic Difficulty and will usually go down to a Finishing Move right off the bat. Given it comes right after the Red Samurai, which is very much not this trope, it is almost like an In-Universe Breather Boss.
    • Colin's Bear attacks through a 'dance of death' that deals a mighty 1 damage to four random members of your squad. The minions that follow it can harm the team, but the Bear itself isn't likely to do much. Until it goes One-Winged Angel for stage two, that is...
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