Venture Kid opens with a cut scene featuring our hero, Andy and his girlfriend, who are busy collecting orbs on a planet when something strange happens. Their activity is disrupted by Andy’s archnemesis, Teklov, who is busy building a massive weapon under the pretense of achieving world peace. Anyway, he kidnaps Andy’s girlfriend (because that’s what’s needed for a video game, right?) and Andy meets with her uncle to obtain weaponry for the battle. Wielding the arm cannon—the first of many weapons created by the uncle—Andy sets off on an unforgettable retro adventure.
Venture Kid is simply amazing. The new game from FDG Entertainment is deeply rooted in the NES era and is built just like the games we all love from our past. It’s equal parts Mega Man 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 with just a dash of some of the more difficult platforming titles like Battle Kid that have released over the past decade. In short, this type of thing is right up my alley—and I loved every action-packed minute of my time with it.
Graphically it’s like stepping into the past. Upon loading Venture Kid on my Switch, I was immediately transported to my youth playing NES on a broken old CRT television after school. The characters and backgrounds look great and pay strict homage to the NES games that inspired them. The animations are well executed and the action is smooth. Some of the characters are repeated and lack variety, but it actually helps the player focus on strategy by learning their patterns and applying that knowledge across each level.
The game is never difficult to the point of violently pulling your hair out, but it does have a decent challenge level suitable for any type of player. The ability to adjust it between easy, normal, and hard is a nice bonus. I found each mode provided a unique challenge and experience during the main story mode.
The game is packed full of content, including some fun achievements (jumping over spiders, for example) and three game modes: Classic, Adventure, and Survival. There’s also an unlockable Boss Rush mode, which is always fun to tackle after you’ve completed the story. Classic mode is a linear experience while Adventure mode offers a stage select from the start of the game. Survival mode was a blast and, like the main game itself, quite addictive. Of the game’s three modes, Classic is probably the most well rounded experience.
Controlling the game is a breeze. Jumping, moving, and shooting use the standard buttons and you can switch weapons quickly by hitting L or R. There’s also a sub-screen (just like the Mega Man games) and a shop where Andy can purchase weapon refills, hearts, extra lives, and various add-ons to aid him through his quest. The currency needed to purchase these helpful doodads come in the form of the orbs Andy collects in each stage.
There are eight stages, followed by a more difficult showdown aboard Teklov’s flying fortress. You’ll visit many locales throughout the adventure. In the forest, Andy takes on a sabretooth tiger. In the city, he faces off against UFOs and flying spikes. Each subsequent level takes Andy to a different stage across the world—the desert, a volcano, the jungle, an ice mine, a factory, and a castle.
The addition of hidden treasure—one of which is a golden NES Game Pak (when’s the last time you heard them called that?)—is a nice touch. It provides incentive for player to explore levels and attempt them multiple times.
The weapons found throughout the game are interesting, but I didn’t find them especially useful until after completing the first eight stages. They become invaluable during Teklov’s stage and definitely make bosses easier. They each have a particular use in certain levels as well—the spike boots and double jump are useful in the Factory and Ice Mine stage respectively. The rocket launcher, freeze ray, and grenades are reminiscent of a certain blue bomber’s arsenal. There’s also a shield and a boomerang. Cool.
During missions, Andy comes across additional one-time-use weapons that affect the terrain like the hourglass and the bomb. Using these effectively—and at the right time/place—opens secret paths, decreases the challenge, or can obliterate a boss in seconds. In fact, I killed the first boss with one of the bombs during my first playthrough.
Finally, let’s move on to where the game shines the brightest—the soundtrack. Composed by Matt Creamer in the 8-bit style, the music is upbeat, catchy and extremely appropriate for the game’s action sequences. The transition from the anthemic title screen music to the serene world map theme is seamless. My favorites tracks are the city, forest, ice cave, and Teklov’s space fortress. The tunes feel as if they were ripped right out of some of the most popular NES games, including Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, StarTropics, and Battletoads. The boss music will certainly get your blood pumping!
Venture Kid is not a mere nostalgic love letter to the 8-bit era; it’s an entirely fresh take on a Mega Man style platformer while staying true to its 8-bit roots. With amazing music and a decent amount of replayability, it has quickly become one of my favorite “new retro” titles from the past few years. It would be a shame for any Nintendo Switch owner to miss such a gem.
Venture Kid Review
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 10/1010/10
- Gameplay - 9.5/109.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9.5/109.5/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Venture Kid is a true retro gem for the Nintendo Switch. Fans of the NES Mega Man games and lovers of 8-bit chiptunes will find a ton to like here. Why aren’t you playing this yet?