It’s clear as day that Venture Kid, with its punchy chiptune soundtrack and a colourful pixelated look that falls been 8-bit and GBA, is a homage to the Blue Bomber. That doesn’t mean its without its own characteristics.
Man, Oh Man
In Venture Kid’s Classic Mode, our boy Andy is tasked with running and blasting through nine levels to chase down the evil Dr. Teklov. Teklov who’s building a super weapon to preserve peace. Well, that’s what he’s telling everyone from his massive space castle. Andy naturally sees right through this and springs into action.
Andy’s a bit of a plain hero, looking like the type you’d see in a dull 70s show, yet very Mega Man. Our boy’s base look is that of Mega Man without his helmet, if he lost the cool armour and buster. Effectively, Andy is just the ‘Man’. That’s fine, he’s a tough kid.
The spritework’s not the most original or detailed but it captures the era well and enemy designs, while sticking to the standard robotic-animal and humanoid in the main, are varied enough to keep things visually interesting. That said, the enemies stuck with me, proving to be memorable in their own way through competent animation and individual attack patterns.
Action takes place across platforming levels which include the usual moving platforms, treadmills, cogs, close range enemies, projectile firing enemies. It’s all tick-box stuff but Venture Kid’s solid mechanics are underpinned by fantastic level design, particularly in enemy and platform placement.
Bass & Treble, Lacking the Mids
Where Venture Kid differs isn’t in the run and gun platforming, the three-at-at-time burst shooting, the pause-scrolling screens, the predictable boss patterns or the pits and spikes. No, it’s in the flow of its movement. Platforming is super tight, with a stick-to-the-ground approach to landing and a really high jump (especially after unlocking the double-jump power). The jump itself gives a tight command over ascending and descending, reacting with near zero-lag when wanting to shift Andy’s momentum mid-air. This is helped by the general speed of the running, which keeps an ebb and flow to each section. There are no pixel-perfect landing requirements here, a welcome break in the genre, as it keeps the game’s pace consistently high. Exploration is limited, with most sections being linear but there is a secret section within each level containing a treasure. These treasures aren’t difficult to find, and their accompanying hiding places involve little by way of navigation trickery, but all are needed to unlock the final boss.
Venture Kid isn’t anywhere near as difficult as the Blue Bomber’s 8-bit adventures but even though it errs on the easier side, the gameplay promotes a desire to run through as fast as you can. Completing a run happens in a very short time once you know the boss patterns, but the game’s handy stat page keeps track of your fastest times. Additionally, in-game achievements kick in for a number of feats including clean and fast runs. The only drawback is the reliance on an archaic life system that really could do with being removed. It’s a shame that for a game with such great level design, flow and accessibility, the devs felt the need to force players to start over, just for a small handful of errors or when getting to grips with a boss.
Mega Man & Boss
Speaking of bosses, their respective battles are quick with only a couple of patterns to learn each. Design here isn’t as inspired as the level layout, making them less memorable than the game’s inspiration material. Defeating a boss does unlock a new weapon, which has an energy bar. Yes, yes, it’s Mega Man. Like is often the case in some of Capcom’s classic entries, I found myself relying on the standard blaster, more than any of the power-ups except for the double jump or the one for walking on spikes (both of which can be used alongside normal fire). The triggers are on hand for the convenience of switching weapons, so keeping track of your weapon’s energy level is quick and easy.
A number of extras, mostly in the form of energy or health replenishment, can be bought using the game’s plentiful in-game currency, orbs. Orbs are scattered around levels and are dropped by defeated enemies, as are energy and health pickups, but this is Man, so you knew that already.
The Adventure Mode lets you tackle the levels in any order and rounding off the initially available selection is the Survival Mode, which acts as a remix of sorts, jumping from level to level and taking chunks from each. Adding this level of replayability was a masterstroke given that the quality level design still pulls through, even with the random elements. If that wasn’t enough, there’s even an unlockable Boss Rush Mode. I found these modes great to return to, having exhausted my playthrough of the Classic Mode.
Venture Kid is a complete package for a very reasonable price. If you want a break from the Mega Man Collections, or generally find those games too difficult, Venture Kid is a comparative walk in the park. Well, more like a sprint.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Format: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, iOS, Android
Price: £8.99 (UK eShop)
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Developer: FDG Entertainment/Per Aasland/Even Rusten/Snikkabo
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 02/05/19
Review copy provided by publisher