Indie Pogo is the kind of game you get when you take the basic premise of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. and apply it to an ensemble of indie game mascots, then make them all jump around wildly. It’s fun, fast, furious, and absolutely as ridiculous as it sounds. And yet that’s part of the charm for a game that borrows so heavily from the big Nintendo mash up, but still makes it feel like a fresh idea. You might not know who every fighter that shows up is or where they’re from, but you’ll definitely come to remember them and maybe curious enough to learn more after playing a few matches of Indie Pogo.
It’s not just about running around and beating up your opponents, Indie Pogo instead makes you jump around as if you were on a pogo stick. Surprisingly, this works very well and forces you to play around the arcs of your jumps and plan where you land, either on a platform or on someone’s head. Punching and kicking can still happen, with characters having their own unique attacks, but it feels much different than in Smash Bros for all the right reasons. Every character also gets a powerful Super attack that charges up as you land attacks midair in succession, leading to some wild attacks with varying results. Some Supers look really cool taking up the whole screen, while others might not be as flashy but are super effective in sneaky ways.
Matches of Indie Pogo can be done in one-on-one bouts, teams, or with up to 4 fighters in a free-for-all. But unlike in Super Smash Bros. where you need to knock your opponent’s off stage to score KOs, Indie Pogo allows you to either deplete a fighter’s health bar or send them off the level to score knockouts. This allows fights to have more options to in achieving victory and keeps things from getting too dull.
The learning curve for getting good in Indie Pogo isn’t steep, but it’s no walk in the park either. You can casually pick up and play with anybody, but you’ll need to be clever in order to use your attacks and abilities to get the most out of their effects. And luckily, the game has a great tutorial and Challenges that can show the ropes on how things are done. It doesn’t take much to learn the basics, but there is still a definitive gap in skill levels between those who really look into the tech and strategies one can do.
The roster and stages are very interesting, especially if you’ve played any of the indie games that are featured. Many will recognize the likes of Shovel Knight, Lilac from Freedom Planet, and many others from the more popular indie games, but there’s a lot of love for others not as widely known. The best part of this? You can find out more about each by hitting an option within the menus that takes you directly to a game’s Steam page.
It’s a neat way of allowing players to discover more about an indie game character they see or use in Indie Pogo, and even give them the option to purchase their original games. This is something other mash-up fighters can really learn from, especially those with obscure character inclusions. This also can be said for the stages you fight on, which are all pulled directly from different indie titles, not just the fighters themselves.
Speaking of which, there’s a lot more indie love in here than you might think. You can unlock trophies and dossiers on characters from various games, even if they aren’t added to the roster of playable fighters. And again, each one allows you to see and go purchase the game right on steam directly from the game itself. Most of this gets highlighted in the game’s Shop. It’s here you can unlock new fighters, stages, bonus outfits, sound clips, and even taunts to use during a match. This comes from using coins you gain after completing battles or any other game modes, so even if something looks a bit expensive to unlock you’ll always have a number of options to get what you need to do so.
Outside of local play, which can be done with up to four CPUs or players, there’s a single player Arcade Mode, Challenges, and Online Multiplayer to keep you busy. Arcade puts you into eight battles with a boss fight at the end, where you can earn coins and trophies for completing it. Again, this follows a very similar formula to Super Smash Bros. but the game attempts to mix things up with different kinds of fights as you go on. Challenges are scenarios where you must complete a task under specific criteria, which may or may not require you to use a given character. These can get tough and make you think about how you play, but are also rewarding if you manage to get through them.
And finally Online Play is exactly what it is. You can make rooms to play against others online and place on the leaderboards. It’s not hard to get into a match, but there are the occasional hiccups when you can’t find many people playing online. When you do manage to get other together for a rumble, everything works out very good. Some experiences may vary depending on how well your internet connection is, but you can still expect to find some good matches when going online.
Indie Pogo can be very fun and addicting. You don’t have to be familiar at all with these indie characters, but sitting down for one match with any of them will show you how wacky and interesting they can be. The effort of collaboration to make all of this come together so well is a joy to see, especially with how well the game gives spotlight to every indie title that’s included. The overall concept may be similar to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. in many ways, but that doesn’t take away from the clever application of it to the indie gaming side of things. You can’t go wrong diving into a few matches of Indie Pogo for some quick rounds, or taking time to really learn this simple, yet challenging game.
This review is based on a digital review code for Indie Pogo for Steam, provided by Lowe Bros Studios.