In SuperEpic: The Entertainment War, RegnantCorp is the one video game company left behind after a series of hostile takeovers and mergers across the world. A huge enterprise run by a literal monopoly of greedy pigs, RegnantCorp is bent on mind-controlling the masses with its intrusive products. Responding to a mysterious distress signal, Tan Tan the raccoon and his llama steed prepare to invade RegnantCorp headquarters to end the company’s tyrannical rule once and for all.
SuperEpic: The Entertainment War
December 12, 2019
Sidequest was provided with a review copy of SuperEpic: The Entertainment War in exchange for a fair and honest review.
SuperEpic: The Entertainment War is a satirical Metroidvania-style action-adventure game that blatantly pokes fun at the current climate of the video games industry. With the ongoing discourse of imposing microtransactions and DLC packages becoming a recurring trend across different games and the companies that produce them, SuperEpic’s pastiches are not too far from the truth.
Players maneuver Tan Tan through side-scrolling levels while fighting enemies along the way. Items can be bought and equipment upgraded through NPCs that players encounter throughout the levels. In light of the game’s comedic tone, some of these items include a stop sign as a weapon or simply a fashionable cape to equip to your llama. Some parts of the map are not completely accessible until players get a particular item or fulfill certain conditions, but inevitably a boss will be faced at the end of each level. One of the first bosses, for example, is a higher-up employee that pilots a mech. In order to defeat it, Tan Tan must attack and destroy each arm before he can target the main cockpit. Consistent with how much of the game pays homage to other titles, the mech’s design bears intentional similarities to the sort of bosses seen in the Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man games.
In a world filled with anthropomorphized animals, RegnantCorp employees are depicted as literal pigs while other enemies are all sorts of other creatures without any real thematic cohesion to those choices. The game’s visual style very much harkens back to the ’90s-’00s era, when animated shows like Sonic Underground and Disney’s TaleSpin were syndicating, with oversaturated anthropomorphized animal mascots everywhere. One level, for instance, is the headquarters’ gym facilities for employees. Enemies include a pig bouncing on and losing control of a fitness ball, and a monkey climbing on ceiling bars that can jump on the player when provoked. The game is also saved whenever Tan Tan takes a break and relieves himself in bathrooms across the map. It is cartoonish through and through—SuperEpic’s aesthetics and mechanics rekindle the nostalgic feelings of a Saturday morning cartoon, reinforcing its message or scorn for the way video games are today and wanting to go back to the “good old days.”
What’s most striking about SuperEpic is its integration of minigames that can be played by scanning a QR code on your screen using a phone. These QR codes usually are presented as a display on a wall and treated as a lock or barrier to something optional. Skipping these minigames will not hinder progress, but playing them will definitely prove advantageous in getting more money to spend on items and weapon upgrades. The games are presented as the supposedly awful mobile apps made by RegnantCorp themselves, intentionally designed to be clunky, unpolished, and near unplayable while parodying popular apps like Flappy Bird.
The most impressive game is an idle clicker unlocked when Tan Tan runs into his first ATM, which are access points to open up and sign into a RegnantCorp bank account. Unlike the other games encountered that are meant to be one-shot jabs at something specific, the idle clicker is meant to be recurring and returned to, accumulating points with the passage of time like a real idle clicker would. All of these points can be exchanged for money in the main game.
It is the game’s own clever, meta way to prove that power does indeed equate to (in-game) money. In addition to the criticism it levies against spending of real-life money for unfair advantages, it proves its point especially when in-game money can be used to respawn from wherever you last left off whenever Tan Tan dies. If players are unwilling to go with that option, they instead respawn from where they last properly saved. In conveying this message through multiple instances, ironically enough, it makes the mechanics it is mocking actually kind of fun and enticing.
On one hand, SuperEpic is indeed funny and truly hilarious at times with its creativity. But in some sparse moments it gets too on-the-nose and kind of cringey with the commentary it wants to deliver.
The most grating of these was in the game’s opening sequence: RegnantCorp rises from the ashes as a truly evil entity out to brainwash civilians through their games. The narration utters its justified distaste for how the normalization of microtransactions has led to this (exaggerated) outcome, but all the while seemingly casts blame on the poor taste of the players and consumers. This attitude ends up translating itself to Tan Tan’s cause to fight, but it felt a little too condescending and generalized, especially when mobile games unfortunately carry this stigma of all being microtransactional traps. Some people just want to play monotonous and “mindless” video games sometimes, and that is valid. That said, this viewpoint is also not a very unique one; many people feel that mobile games are all microtransaction-heavy timesinks rather than unique and interesting in their own right.
In addition, the game’s message feels very specific and may not necessarily appeal to a wider demographic. I immediately know what SuperEpic is commenting on as someone who keeps up with industry coverage, but to too many casual gamers, anxieties over the monopolization of game companies may not at all be relatable. I do not think SuperEpic will be able to educate the mass public about growing concerns in the video game industry, as it feels like it currently only exists to validate someone like me, who has been both a writer covering games and an active creative in a lot of these intersecting media circles.
Overall, SuperEpic: The Entertainment War meets most of the criteria of what makes a good Metroidvania-style game. It has striking visuals and excellent controls that integrate unique and innovative mechanics that take you in and out of the main game. Not all of its humor lands and could be executed better at times, but it is certainly enjoyable for people who clamor for the Metroidvania genre. While SuperEpic takes place in the year 2084, this bleak interpretation of a corporate future for gaming will hopefully not be a haunting reality for the industry.
Elvie is an animator by day and tries too hard to be everything else by nightfall. Feel free to join her in screaming about anime and animals as she puts off what she should be really doing at @lvmaeparian.