It’s possible that you’ve never heard of Killer Queen, which means that this review of Killer Queen Black lacks some context. So let’s backtrack just for a moment to look at where this game comes from and what all the buzz is about. Killer Queen is one of the trendiest arcade games to release in a long time. The massive cabinet pits two teams of five against each other in a strategically diverse competition where the best hive wins. Teams are comprised of three classes—the workers, the warriors, and the queens. Victory can be achieved through three routes—economic victory, snail victory, and military victory. The game is very easy to learn, but it possesses a depth and replay value that has captured the attention of the arcade gaming world.
That’s Killer Queen. What’s Killer Queen Black, then? It’s the Nintendo Switch port of the game that includes new maps, new abilities, and a slight change to the winning formula. Four-player teams instead of five. And the game is designed with online multiplayer as the central focus. Local play is possible, but it’s not as accessible as playing online with friends or strangers.
Does it retain the charm of the original? Let’s look.
There isn’t really a story here. No narrative that connects the maps or the characters of the game. The workers are there to collect berries, to ride the snail, and to become warriors. Warriors are there to protect their team and to hunt the enemy. The queen is there to rule over it all and avoid death, all while pursuing the opposition’s queen.
If there is a story, then it’s in the experiences of the players. The nail-biting victories. The crushing defeats. The communal aspect of Killer Queen that makes it such an addictive and enjoyable arcade game can be found in the Nintendo Switch port, as long as you’re able to connect with the other players. Using a mic is important for communication and team strategy, but it also immerses you into the adventure.
The narrative of Killer Queen Black is one of frenetic gameplay and the joys of winning and losing. Make your own story.
Playing the game is quite easy. Figuring out the intricacies of play and the strategies that a team should employ is a harder task.
Games are played until one side has won three times. Each map will cycle through three times before being swapped out for the next. And just as in the arcade version, there are three paths to victory.
The economic victory involves workers collecting berries and ferrying them back to the hive. If a hive fills up before a snail victory or military victory is achieved, that industrious team wins by the virtue of their workers.
The snail victory involves workers hopping on to the large snail and riding it all the way to their end of the map. Queens and warriors can kill workers who are riding the snail, and the snail can be turned around by the other team, but if one side reaches their flag, the game is over.
The last victory involves the queens. Workers have unlimited lives. Queens do not. If a queen dies three times, then the other team wins. Only another queen, or a warrior, can kill a queen. The deadly women also have the ability to fly, which makes it an airborne dance of diving and dodging.
With three ways to win, and a crowded field of eight players jumping around and pursuing different routes to victory, Killer Queen Black is a frenzy of movement. And it was always fun.
There are two game modes—quick play and ranked. If you’re looking to play with friends or to hop on for a game or two, quick play will let you experience Killer Queen Black for as little or as much time as you want. Ranked, however, will satisfy the needs of those competitive players that want to fight their way through the crowds of Nintendo Switch gamers for hive supremacy.
Gameplay is loud, frantic, and a lot of fun. While something is lost in translation with ten players, all huddled around one cabinet, shifting to eight players locked behind their own screens.
Retro, but charming. That encapsulates the Killer Queen Black experience. Workers appear as chubby little meeple, like a gummy bear brought to life. Warriors are thick and strong, while queens are sleek like the point of a spear. These creatures jump and juke on minimal 2D platforms while they strive for a particular victory. The art style harkens back to the classic arcade days, but the bright colors and speedy movement lend an air of modernity.
You could play Killer Queen Black for as long as you want. The ranked mode promises online competition and player growth. The opportunity to play with friends means that it can be a great party game. Whichever way you want to experience the eight-player mania, you can do so for hours on end.
WHAT IT COULD HAVE DONE BETTER
I’m sure that as the game releases, there will be matchmaking difficulties. And as a lone reviewer, I wasn’t able to test the local multiplayer mode of the game. So there may be some troubleshooting that needs to be addressed there, but from what I played, Killer Queen Black is a very solid game with little going wrong.
If you’re a fan of Killer Queen, then you’ll find plenty to love about the Nintendo Switch version. And if you’ve never heard of the game before, that still shouldn’t dissuade you from checking out Killer Queen Black. No matter its origins, the game is an absolute blast that is definitely one of the best multiplayer options for the Switch right now.
Give me berries and snails or give me death.