Killer Queen Black is essentially a sequel to an arcade game that released only a few years ago, but based on our hands-on experience with it at E3 2019, it's understandable why developer Liquid Bit wanted to take what worked in a bar setting and transform it for home consoles (and PC). Showcased by IndieCade at this year's E3, Killer Queen Black isn't just a console port but rather a game that has been built from the ground up to work in a more concentrated environment.
Playing Killer Queen Black, the one noticeable difference is that the player count maxes out at eight instead of ten, which means teams are split into four players rather than five. Whether or not reducing the player count was a conscious decision in order to maintain comparability with other online multiplayer games, the result is a high octane fight for victory. Sure, the Killer Queen arcade game is competitive, but having an additional member on each team can easily lessen the burden on the other players.
Despite the change in player count, Killer Queen Black's objectives are still the same as in the cult arcade game: kill the enemy Queen, ride the snail to the finish line, or collect all the berries. We tried all three ways to win in our hands-on demo, playing as the Blue Team, and the most engaging and fun way to win is easily riding the snail to the end. Luckily, one of the developers was playing as the Queen in the first round, so everyone else was focused on either transforming into a soldier or riding the snail as far as possible.
Just like with Killer Queen, Liquid Bit's Killer Queen Black captures the intensity of the arcade version while somehow mitigating stress typically associated with online multiplayer games. Of course, if a team's Queen isn't good at staying alive, then frustration may arise due to shorter rounds. But, thankfully, that didn't happen in our playthrough. Even though both teams were failing to communicate with each other properly, Killer Queen Black is designed to encourage teamwork without the need to constantly strategize aloud. In that regard, it works on a fundamental level.
Considering that the original Killer Queen is a homage to the classic arcade games from the 1970s and 1980s, it's terrific that Killer Queen Black works as a homage to the arcade game it's based on. Whether someone plays as a Drone, a Soldier, or the Queen, there's always something to do, and there's never a dull moment. What's more, the level designs are appealing enough to gawk at, and as long as there's a player base to go along with the game, Killer Queen Black could one day sustain a presence in esports.