FDG Entertainment’s newest game Venture Kid is an 8-bit inspired action platformer that takes a lot of inspiration from games from an age long gone. In this platformer, Dr. Teklov is aiming to build a secret weapon in order to cause mass devastation, and your mission is to stop him. But is that mission an enjoyable one for the player? That is the question…
Venture Kid is very reminiscent to the original NES Mega Man series in terms of its gameplay, with your regular blaster shooting small pellets and simple and straightforward platforming. After each boss fight, you receive a new powerup that give you advantages over certain enemies and bosses. However despite its similarities, the gameplay lacks any sort of originality, or even some of the essential additions that came with the later entries in the Mega Man franchise.
Venture Kid is a very competent platformer, with not many technical hiccups. But aside from that, there isn’t too much we can say in its favor. It’s simply a platformer that can kill an hour or two, but you won’t be able to think back and be able to pinpoint a particular moment that stood out to you. It all just flows in a very generic manner.
As you complete specific achievements, you are rewarded with trophies. With the Switch not having any achievements system, this just feels tacked on, adding no real value to the gameplay. The trophies are there to encourage a completionist playthrough, but the lackluster nature of the game didn’t make me want to even consider it.
In most levels, there are enemies that take on the appearance of inanimate objects and platforms. This is a pretty standard practice in 2D platformers, and these objects often are shaded differently or have some feature that makes them stand out amongst the rest. Venture Kid also has this feature, however there were some that did not make them stand out whatsoever, so I ended up taking damage when using them as a platform. I’m not sure whether this was a mistake or a bug, but it felt very cheap nonetheless.
As you proceed throughout the levels, there are little bits of gold that you can collect. These are to be spent in the shop that is in the pause menu, allowing you to buy upgrades and potions. For half of the game, I actually wasn’t sure what the gold pieces were for as the Shop menu is tucked away in the bottom-right corner of the start menu and there is no tutorial that brings it to your attention. However, this certainly is a welcomed addition, especially as you don’t lose your treasure when you die or receive a Game Over screen.
The levels are simple in their design, having long stretches only to weave up and back the other way. Not once did I feel impressed or amazed at any given moment, it all just seemed to flow in a competent manner.
There are checkpoints in each level, but they are invisible and the game doesn’t tell you when you’ve activated one. So when you die, it’s a complete guess as to where you’ll end up restarting from.
When you die, you receive a Game Over screen, pushing you back to the beginning of the level. Whilst this may seem pretty standard, I never felt spurred on to try harder, rather I just felt annoyed that I had to traverse the level again. This can be chalked up to the generic gameplay and lifeless art direction.
There are some ‘hidden’ areas throughout the game, as well as alternate paths. The reason why we put the word hidden in quotation marks is that they aren’t really hidden per se, rather they come in the form of paths that you wouldn’t think to take at first glance. Sometimes, they may even take the use of a bomb that you’ll need to pick up and carry over to a cracked wall. These alternate paths are often rewarding, with items that you would normally have to spend gold on in order to obtain.
Speaking of generic, so too is the game’s plot. An evil Dr. Teklov has built a secret weapon and threatens to destroy the world, and only you, Andy, can stop him (for some reason). The only story dialogue present is at the very beginning of the game, with half a dozen still shot images with a little bit of text. With the plot being as plain as it is, I had completely forgotten why I was traversing these lands in the first place until the final cutscenes before the boss.
The story may have been more memorable if we were travelling to more exciting levels, however they have very generic names, such as: Volcano and Jungle. For an avid gamer such as myself, I merely felt that I had seen it all before.
Graphics / Art Direction
Anyone else getting some serious Alex Kidd vibes here? On first glance, that’s what I thought, and not once was I convinced otherwise. Even down to the use of blue in the overworld map, its artistic inspiration is obvious.
It’s clear that the game’s developer, Snikkabo, was very inspired by classic Sega Master System/Mega Drive/Genesis games, as well as the Mega Man franchise, but this comes at the cost of any originality.
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack for Venture Kid takes on a chiptune aesthetic, much like what you’d expect from a game such as this. Whilst the music can be generic and repetitive at times, there are some tracks that really do stand out. I particularly enjoyed the Jungle level’s music… just a personal preference, I guess.
The sound effects are very 8-bit era inspired, with lots of bleeps and bloops that you’d expect from something like this. If you’re one who misses the sounds of the 80s and early 90s, this game may drum up some feelings of nostalgia for you.
Final Score: 50%
When we heard that FDG Entertainment were bringing a new game to the Nintendo Switch and it was to be a console exclusive, we were very excited. However, Venture Kid is a bland and soulless adventure. What it does, it does adequately; but when we’ve played these style of games time and time again, it does nothing new and the game grows stale very quickly.
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