Venture Kid from Snikkabo AS
Venture Kid is a side-scrolling action platformer that borrows many of its core mechanics directly from the early Mega Man games. Spread across nine stages and featuring a variety of obtainable weapons, Venture Kid offers a fully fledged retro adventure that strives to evoke nostalgia with every aspect of its design.
The story of Venture Kid follows the exploits of Andy and his efforts to stop a secret weapon built by the evil Dr. Teklov. Brief anime-styled cut scenes convey this rather traditional tale; in order to stop Teklov, Andy will have to traverse many unique stages and eventually conquer the evil scientist’s orbital space station.
The narrative, much like the game itself, feels like a heavy-handed homage to classic side-scroller titles but it executes its intent well.
The action of Venture Kid pushes the limits of homage; defeated bosses yield new tools and weapons with finite (but replenishable) energy, stages are filled with a mixture of robotic and organic foes, the difficulty is ramped-up and certain animations even seem pulled straight from Mega Man.
The platforming is sharp and pixel-precise, too. I went back to Mega Man 2 to compare, and Venture Kid opts for a more exacting and – honestly – more responsive movement system than its forebears whilst still retaining most of the challenge.
The Road Rises with You
The difficulty curve is expertly tuned with a slight bump towards the end (which felt pretty much ideal for giving the last few levels a real sense of challenge).
The use of accumulated items and weapons could be more encouraged throughout the game; I found that I only began to really make use of many of them in the final stages where it became almost mandatory.
An in-game shop is available to purchase a variety of upgrades or tools. I actually found this quite late, but once I did, it changed my play-style, allowing for slightly riskier methods thanks to the ability to restock on health or permanently enhance the protagonist’s health meter.
Each level concludes with a boss that must only be defeated once (they are absent on replays of the same save file). Two main modes are available: Classic and Adventure. As far as I can tell, the main difference is that Adventure allows you to choose which stage to take on next (Mega Man style).
A survival mode is also available; this randomly slaps together stage sections with a high level of difficulty and only one life. I found this last mode gave the game a little more life once I’d completed the main adventure.
Venture Kid uses a combination of appealing pixel art and chiptune music to further cement its role as a trip down memory lane. The pixel art is a tad inconsistent, with some enemies looking a little simpler than others (a strange, gangling, bird creature in the desert world is a particularly noticeable culprit, but I did find it oddly charming, to be fair).
Altogether, Venture Kid knows what it wants to be, and its art style dives in headfirst to ensure it achieves this.
Venture Kid is so dedicated to its very particular inspirations that it treads the tightrope between homage and blatant derivation. I believe many will see this game as little more than a replication of the many features found in 30-year-old games (with a couple of additions).
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed blasting through Venture Kid, and it left me wanting more; this is a well made and genuinely enjoyable example of its genre- a love letter to Mega Man, and it’s easy to recommend to fans of the classics or anyone looking for a sharp, challenging platformer.
Venture Kid is available via the Nintendo Game Store, the iTunes App Store, Google Play and Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Venture Kid below: