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Miles & Kilo (PC) artwork

Miles & Kilo (PC) review

"Adventure Island with no room to breathe and no room for error"

A nefarious evil doer has brought down our hero’s plane. Now, with only his dog Kilo, his wits, and your mean platforming skills, Miles must brave an uncharted island teeming with dangerous critters and fraught with environmental hazards, in an effort to track down the plane’s scattered components, so he can repair it and get back in the air. As the backdrop for the unapologetically difficult run-and-jump action to come, the silly story serves its purpose better than yet another hackneyed tale of a courageous and sturdy lad off to rescue a hapless damsel in distress, so I'll take it.

Miles & Kilo plays like Adventure Island for ye olde NES (or like Wonder Boy for the indignant Sega Master System fans among you). It's the same kind of side-scrolling effort featuring a spunky boy armed with arcing projectiles for tossing at leaping frogs, annoying bats, strafing birds and the like. The main differences are these: Miles & Kilo’s levels are shorter, but Adventure Island gave you checkpoints -- four per level. Here we have none, so you’ll have to get each stage perfect in order to proceed. Fortunately, you’ll have unlimited tries at each sub 30-second stage; it’s nothing to die and immediately and stubbornly have another run, making adjustments in order to inch that much closer to the finish line. Still, the requirement for perfection makes for a much tougher go of things with this newer title, and luckily for us, an even more addicting one than Hudson Soft’s offerings, as well.

Miles & Kilo (PC) image

The one-man army behind Miles & Kilo -- one Michael Burns -- made its predecessor, Kid Tripp years ago and for mobile platforms only. It had the same general aesthetic and style of gameplay. Both are ‘auto-runners,’ which means you needn’t do anything at all with your left hand. You’re in constant forward motion by default, and progress is all about timing when you fire your weapon, when you make your jumps, and how big you make those jumps. The auto-running function was a clever workaround given the inherently dodgy nature of touch screen controls, but since Miles & Kilo has made its way home through Steam, Burns saw fit to make it optional here. It’s a nice change of pace (pun intended) which permits you to play the game like a normal platformer, taking your time to carefully consider your jumps or turn around to pick up a missed coin. You’re much less likely to post impressive times this way, however.

And Miles & Kilo values impressive times: at the end of every stage, the game ranks you based on how quickly you beat the level, how many times you died in attempting to beat it, how many coins you collected, and how many fruits you have left in stock. The coins are merely collectibles, but the fruits double as your projectiles. There are spare fruits just hanging about the environment with which to replenish your supply as you take enemies out, and the game rewards you for finishing each stage with your stock full. You are given anything from an S to an A rating, right on down, though in the end, the ratings don't affect anything save for certain hardcore achievements and bragging rights.

Miles & Kilo (PC) image

There are 36 stages on offer across five areas. A nice little overhead map sets out your journey, and off you go. The locales are nothing groundbreaking; you've got caves, ruins, the seashore, and volcanic areas complete with lava splashing up at your feet. But what makes Miles & Kilo special -- aside from its uncanny balancing of frustratingly exacting instadeath sequences with the way it compels you to keep having another go -- is Kilo, the protagonist’s dog. For most levels you are on your own, playing the game as a standard platformer set to fast-forward. But for some levels you will interact with Kilo, and by “interact,” I mean, you are dragged through the level by his leash. He jumps from platform-to-platform, but he also has a unique targeting attack whereby the next closest enemy is highlighted and he effects a cannonball attack, bouncing off that enemy and into the next if you are nimble enough. You'll have to chain together these bounce attacks not only as a means of beating foes, but as a means of traversing chasms, whether they be filled with lava, spikes, or nothing at all. It's pretty cool and clever stuff.

Miles & Kilo has a sunny disposition that belies its challenge, boasting bright, colourful graphics, and suitably jaunty tunes to go along with them. And while the game is quite challenging, even if you aren't hardcore, you'll enjoy trying over and over to beat the more obnoxious later levels. Yes, even cack-handed players can get pretty far in the game, before the difficulty curve starts to eliminate some of the would-be contenders. And even then, even if that is you, you won't hold it against the game; the stages are short enough and if you work at them long enough, you'll probably be able to push through any one of them eventually if you are so inclined. And if not, you'll still enjoy yourself immensely with Miles & Kilo, even as that glass ceiling makes contact.


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Staff review by Marc Golding (December 24, 2017)

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