Gaming History 101

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Venture Kid Review

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Fact Sheet

Developer: Snikkabo AS
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Genre: Action Platformer
Available on: Switch, Steam, iOS
Originally released: 2016

Venture Kid is a retro action platformer that’s reminds us of the good old 8-bit days. Taking heavy inspiration from a certain Man that was Mega, the game was originally released to iOS in 2016 and appealed to the handheld touch screen crowd. Two years later it was re-released to Steam, appealing to those that prefer the controller and a screen. With the Switch becoming ever more popular, it makes complete sense that FDG Entertainment would release the game on this platform, especially since players can choose to take the game on the go or just chill out in front of the TV.

In Venture Kid you play as plain old blue T-shirt wearing Andy. He’s not the most inspiring video game hero; however with the power of my weird brain I decided he was based off my friend Andy in real life. For some reason carrying this thought with me throughout the game made me enjoy the rather basic story immensely. You see my friend Andy has to stop evil Dr. Teklov who has built a giant space fortress for evil reasons, of course. A fine bearded gentleman with an eye patch gives Andy a space pistol, which is where our adventure begins. The story is presented in some pretty decent pixel art. Straight from the title screen where your greeted with “Venture Kid” and some catchy 8-bit chiptunes. Additionally an angry Andy leaning on the title which gave me Kid Camelon flashbacks from the Mega Drive/Genesis, the only exception being the lack of sunglasses and the 90s angst.

Venture Kid is a simple jump and shoot retro style game akin to the run-and-gun or platformer style from decades ago. You have a button to shoot, to jump, and of course the D-pad and analogue stick to move. Precision of movement is important in this game as you will be doing a lot of jumping from platform to platform across deadly pits and trying to avoid various hazards. Not only that, you’ll be shooting anything that gets in your way. Fortunately the controls are solid accommodating for the required reactions. I often found myself tensing up, a feeling that made me reminisce about tricky jumping sections I experienced from retro games in my childhood.

As you travel across each level of varying landscapes you’ll encounter multiple enemies to shoot with your little pistol. Instead of a health bar you have hearts. On the normal difficulty setting you can take four hits before you loose a life. An interesting choice considering Mega type Man related games went with a health bar. While the game isn’t too difficult you’ll wish you had a health bar in the final section of the game where things start getting hectic and “one hit and you’re dead” frustrating. As you traverse each level you pick up little pea like collectibles which can be used in the ‘shop’ which is the pause menu. Here you can buy health, lives or passive upgrades. Unfortunately the best upgrade which permanently increases your health requires 999 pea-like collectibles which is only really obtainable if you replay levels over and over again and grind for it.

At the end of each level is a boss fight. While challenging, most are straight forward in that you just need to get the patterns down and learn when the best time to make your attack count. Some boss fights, particularly the boss in the cave level, can go to hell with their insane difficulty spikes. At the end of each boss fight, your buddy with the eye patch gives you a new item. A short cutscene then plays showing you how the item which can be used in game a nice touch from the developers. The items tend to be more useful during the levels instead of just the boss fights unlike a certain series this game takes inspiration from.

The music is one of the biggest features of the game. The 8 bit chip-tune sounds are incredibly catchy at times. Its just a shame you can’t listen to the soundtrack in the options. I would totally have listened to the Jungle level tune while writing this review.

Jumping into the menus of the game you can choose a few modes:

  • Classic – this mode plays the game in the way it was originally designed – you play through the 8 main levers in order. You can replay the levels later but advance through the adventure in the order intended.

  • Adventure – this mode allows you to play the 8 levels in whatever order you fancy. There doesn’t appear to be any merit to playing the levels out of order apart from unlocking specific power ups early.

  • Survival – an interesting addition which I possibly had more fun with than the main adventure itself. Survival mode requires you to go through small level segments which are presented randomly with each attempt. You get one life to progress as far as possibly and you have all weapons upgrades unlocked from the start.

  • Boss Rush – unlocked after you finish the main game. Pretty self explanatory but you do get to choose which boss to fight from three teleporters.

Each mode has the typical three difficulty settings (easy, normal and hard) the higher the difficulty the less health you have and the harder the boss fights are. Ever since Half Life on PC this approach to difficulty has never really done a lot for me. Give you less health and make the baddies even harder to kill. Though I didn’t feel inspired to brave Hard mode I did finish the game keen to give it another run through.

Venture Kid is a fun 8-bit game with solid controls and memorable chiptune music. While it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, the small development team produced strong retro-inspired game. It scratches that itch you get when you just want to play a quick, to the point retro title. Yes, its darn hard at times but I felt pretty awesome when I finally conquered that last boss.

Positives

  • Solid controls

  • Fun to dive in and out on the Switch

  • Great chiptune music

  • Survival mode is incredibly re playable

Considerations

  • Difficulty spikes may lead to frustration and controller/Switch throwing

Final Score: 4/5

A review copy on the Switch was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.  Venture Kid can be found on Switch, Steam, and iTunes with a suggested retail price of $9.99/£8.99.  Store links can be found in the fact sheet at the top of this review.

Written by jamalais

May 6, 2019 at 11:00 am

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