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Venture Kid in Review: Modern 8 Bit Platforming Glory

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When I first saw the screen shots for Venture Kid I thought it was just going to be a cheap knock-off of Mega Man.  Even the main character looked like nothing more than a Photoshopped version of the Mega Man sprite from one of the 8 bit iterations of the game.  Still, as a fan of the series that obviously inspired this game I really wanted to give it a try, and I don’t regret it for a minute.  Since there’s not likely to be an iOS version of Mega Man (at least as far as original content is concerned), Venture Kid is a more than adequate substitute.  Smart level design, a decent variety of enemies and a difficulty level that will make fans of the famous blue robot feel right at home all come together to make Venture Kid a platform game worth playing.

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Once again it’s time to save the world – or at least your girlfriend – from an evil scientist.  You’ll travel through 9 unique and challenging locations, each filled with traps, minions and bosses.  The levels are well designed, they each have several hidden places to find including one that holds a special treasure for that level, and in at least a couple of cases there is some decent maze like aspects to the layouts.  Nothing overly complex mind you, which is good given that there are no maps aside from the Overworld one, but enough to keep the game from feeling completely linear.  Each level has a nice mix of “common” critters as well as ones specific to the locale you are trying to conquer, and the locations themselves are a nice cross-section of a typical platform gaming world.  If you spent your formidable child years in front of the likes of a NES or SNES you’ll probably wonder why you don’t remember playing this one at some point.

Since you’re not fighting robots the bosses don’t leave weapons once you’ve defeated them.  Instead, after you’ve completed each level your inventor friend will give you a new toy to add to your arsenal.  There are some useful weapons that you acquire over time, but unlike your average Mega Man game, you don’t really need any of these items to defeat subsequent bosses.  In fact, the times that I have tried to use them to conquer other end of level villains my attempts have been almost less successful than when using the standard unlimited shooter.  This is a bit disappointing, as half the fun of a game like this is trying to figure out which weapon works best for which end boss.  Then again, maybe I’m just doing it wrong!  You also have to play the levels in a particular order, which I realize is fairly standard for platform games, but again one of the nice variations of the Mega Man series was the ability to play levels out of order.  That would have been a nice feature to see implemented here to help Venture Kid stand out from other iOS platform games.

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The control scheme is just like you’d expect for this type of game: there are arrow buttons to move left and right, a button for shooting and another button for jumping.  Overall it works well, though on very rare occasions I find myself accidentally pushing the wrong direction on the arrow buttons.  The thing I don’t like is switching between weapons.  You have to do that on the pause screen, which can often be inconvenient.  It is possible to tap on the screen in-game to switch the weapons, but that forces you to cycle through all the weapons to get to the one you want, it doesn’t always seem to work, and I’ve found that if you accidentally click too close to the arrow buttons you’ll accidentally trigger them instead.  Once you complete the game you’ll have the opportunity to play in hard mode, and there are also 32 achievements to earn, some of which might require multiple plays through the game.  There’s definitely plenty of game play to be had here.

The visuals make me want to bust out my NES for old time’s sake.  Once you get past the fact that the main character looks like a Mega Man knock-off its impressive how well the artists managed to capture the feel of the old 8 and 16 bit era of games.  The character designs are great, the animation is spot on and the backgrounds have just the right amount of detail for the era they are trying to emulate.  In a similar vein, the music is a wonderful chiptune soundtrack that complements the aesthetic style perfectly.  The sound effects blend right into the mix, though in this case it made me realize that sound effects were the weakest part of the whole 8 bit aesthetic package.

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I highly recommend that you check out this game, especially if you’re a fan of the 8 bit era of console gaming.  As developers have mastered the art of touch screen action gaming there have been a number of really good platform games released, and this has been one of the most enjoyable ones for me in quite a while.  In some ways I wish they would have strayed a bit from the obvious similarities to Mega Man, but in the end that might be the game’s strongest point as well.  Capcom might actually surprise us with a new iOS adventure for the famous blue robot some day, but until then Venture Kid is the way to go.

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App Summary
Title: Venture KidDeveloper: FDG Mobile Games GbR
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req: iOS 7.0
Price:$0.99App Size:20.34MB
  • Excellent level design
  • Fair yet challenging game play
  • Decent controls
  • Spot on 8 bit look and feel
  • Great chiptune music
  • Have to play levels in order
  • Weapons don’t really help with bosses
  • Nuisance to switch weapons

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