Game Review #361: Venture Kid (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Allan Jenks
Developer: FDG Entertainment GmbH & Co. KG, Snikkabo
Publisher: FDG Entertainment GmbH & Co. KG
Category: Action, Adventure, Arcade,Platformer
Release Date: 5.2.2019
Price (at time of review): $10.00
Buy Venture Kid from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Some Imitations Are More Sincere Than Others
There are a lot of Mega Man clones out there. A lot of bad ones, and a few good ones. I’ve always loved the formula: defeat one stage at a time, and after beating the boss, you get a new weapon that will help you beat the next stage and boss. When done right, it is a magical experience that leaves you feeling properly challenged and satisfied with the overall experience. The problem is that, when the developers get it wrong, it is rarely ever just a mild annoyance, but rather, an unplayable mess. Usually this has more to do with the smoothness of the controls than with the level or character design, but I have seen some examples of near game-breaking issues with both. Fortunately, that is not the case with Venture Kid, as this one gets it right, and it is a fun one!
As far as a story goes, they give you one. Basically, your girlfriend is injured by an industrial explosion while you both are out collecting orbs on an island. You then read that Dr. Teklov—apparently, a mad scientist who’s always up to no good—is behind this, as reports indicate Teklov is building a space fortress “for peace.”
You decide to take things into your own hands and take Teklov down, with the help of your tech-savvy inventor friend who hooks you up with a new weapon every time you beat a stage. We’re not really in this for the story, so the fact that that’s pretty much the long and short of it is inconsequential. We’re here for the platforming!
But How Does It Handle?
So, for the controls, I have to say that I am quite impressed. They are very smooth, and I never felt like I was fighting against them at any point in the game. The platforming was tricky at times, but nothing rage-inducing. There were a few spots I had to try for a while to make it through, but it was a fun challenge, rather than a mandatory grind. I really enjoyed playing through all of the levels, and they were tough enough that I didn’t feel it was just handed to me; and honestly, I hate losing, but I hate cheap gimme wins more, so I was very happy with the semi-casual difficulty level.
Each stage gets a little bit tougher as you go, and so do the bosses—though the bosses really aren’t ever TOO tough. Each boss has a pattern that can be exploited, but sometimes it takes a few deaths to figure it out. Luckily, there are checkpoints throughout the levels, so you don’t always have to start from the beginning of the stage when you die—the checkpoints are unmarked though, so you don’t automatically know if you’ve passed one or not. Generally, there is a checkpoint just prior to each boss fight, so if you can make it to the boss, you can retry from there, at least until you run out of extra lives, at which point, you have to start from the beginning of the level.
As you traverse the stages, you collect gems. These gems can be used in the shop—which can be accessed at any time while playing, except during a boss fight—where you can purchase things like extra health, extra lives, more ammo for your special weapons, and more. My favorite item to purchase is the +1 health meter, where your health bar refills one time when you lose all of your hearts. I recommend buying one of these before tackling a tough boss fight. It saved me a couple of times!
I mentioned earlier that you get a new weapon after defeating each of the stages. These range from boomerangs that can grab items from behind walls, to rockets that can shoot up, which is a nice feature, considering you can only shoot straight forward with your regular gun. The weapons don’t really follow any particular theme with the levels, and since you can go back to previously-beaten levels, you can use them on any level, though there are some, like the double-jump, that are required to access certain areas in specific levels. Each level has a hidden treasure icon to collect, which is typically hidden somewhere off the main progression of the level, though these items are not required to beat the level.
There are 3 main modes available to play from the start, and one that is unlockable once you beat the game. The three main modes are: Story Mode, where you play through all of the levels in order; Adventure Mode, where you can play the stages in any order; and Survival mode, where you have one life and play as long as you can until you die. The unlockable mode is Boss Rush Mode, which sticks to the standard definition of what Boss Rush Mode means.
Audio & Video
Visually, Venture Kid is well-done. As a spiritual tribute to the original Mega Man, it is done in the same 8-bit fashion, and the character and level designs are excellently-crafted. The colors really pop off the screen, and each level stands out from the others. Each stage has enemies specific to that stage as well, which is nice, because it really keeps the game from feeling stale as you progress through the different levels.
The soundtrack is also done well, and is, again, a throwback to the original Mega Man series to which this game owes its existence. It’s tricky to top the OG Mega Man soundtracks though, and while the tracks are good, they don’t quite do as well as the source material. This is excusable though, because any composer would be hard-pressed to create an OST with the same personality as say, Mega Man 2. The songs are still good, however, and still keep you in the right headspace as you make your way through the stages.
At the end of the day, Venture Kid was really a lot of fun, and I feel that the attention to detail was not absent with the development team here. If you are a fan of the Mega Man series and like a challenge, but not a broken controller and a hole in the drywall, then Venture Kid is a game that I would recommend adding to your library!
Buy Venture Kid from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Follow FDG Entertainment GmbH & Co. KG
*Review Code Provided by FDG Entertainment