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Venture Kid (PC) artwork

Venture Kid (PC) review

"No level select, no strategy, no problem."

Look! Itís a Mega Man clone! Is what youíll say right away, upon seeing Venture Kid. And youíd be right. The game is unapologetically inspired by the NES Mega Man games in look, sound and feel. That it can keep up in those areas is a credit to its two-man development team. But! Venture Kidís hero canít slide. He has no charge shot. He doesnít have Rush. He canít select what order he tackles the levels in; the weapons he earns by putting bosses down donít bring strategy to the proceedings by being indispensable against the next boss on the hit list. The earned weapons are just, kind of cool, and help make your life a little easier against a handful of the peskier enemies (e.g.: the napalm against the shield guys, the rocket against the UFO guys).

Putting aside the slide, the charge, and Rush, some might say that without the thoughtfulness that goes into figuring out which path to take, which weapons trump which bosses, that the clone youíre left with isnít doing its job very well, that perhaps it isnít a very good clone at all. If youíre going to copy and you already have that strike against you, how can you leave out the very heart and soul of the original thing?

Because the boss-beating, weapon-swapping angle isnít the only great and unique thing about the Mega Man games, it turns out. It turns out that the iconic look, stirring midi melodies, and the unrelenting demand to exercise just the right timing for just the right blend of jumping and shooting can make a game play as fun and as authentically as any true entry in the canon. That Venture Kid is easier than any Mega Man game doesn't necessarily hurt it, and conversely, would probably serve to further broaden its appeal.

None of the core platformer ingredients are new or unique: thereís a desert pyramid level, a mine cart level, a fire cave, an ice cave. But enemies are in the right places, platforms are narrow enough and crumble fast enough to give us a decent challenge. Bosses are especially memorable, from the motorcycle hellion who tosses movement-confounding gelatin to hold you prisoner for his murderous runs, to mine cart brothers who lob pickaxes at you in your pursuing cart even as evilly situated spikes hang in the air to really test your timing.

And where Venture Kid may have dispensed with some Mega Man staples, heís added a few new wrinkles of his own. Every level has a hidden path that leads to a golden artifact. Without these artifacts, you canít fight the final boss and earn the true ending. With a true old school game, thatíd be that, and youíd have to start over and try to get it right on your next go Ďround. Venture Kid, though, offers file slots that save instantly, and an overhead map of sorts that allows you to repeat levels.

On the whole, the Kid isnít up against the same level of firepower that the blue bomber had to contend with, so the degree of challenge is ramped up to respectable levels by shrinking the margin of error: on Normal you can only take three hits before dying, which makes the Kid quite a bit more fragile than his helmet wearing inspiration.

And thatís the story of Venture Kid, isnít it? Itís a stripped down, compromise of a game. But whatís left, is the beating heart of a smaller, easier Mega Man game with none of the strategy but with all of the sights and sounds, and the feel. Itís like "My First Mega Man" and in the case of a series as notoriously intractable as Capcom's canon, many gamers, myself included, are happy to play it, that it exists.


Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (May 26, 2018)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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