I have a number of unpopular opinions that I hold with varying degrees of conviction. One of those opinions is this: Mega Man 3 is the greatest NES-based Mega Man title in the franchise, period.
While many might argue, here is (in the simplest form) why: Mega Man 3 drew on the lessons it learned from the first two games in the series (specifically, Mega Man 2 – which is a celebrate title), it tried some new things, and presented a satisfying challenge, building upon the world it was creating. I also have a ton of fond memories of the game, but that’s beside the point.
With all of this love that I have for the “Blue Bomber,” when given the opportunity to review what was unabashedly a Mega Man-esque clone, how could I refuse? Could this at long last quench my need to relive those Mega Man days of old? We will find out all of that and more in our review of Venture Kid for Nintendo Switch.
In case you have not heard of it, Venture Kid comes to the Switch like many titles before it: as a port of a previously released game. Originally released on iOS in 2016 and later on Steam in 2018, Venture Kid is the combined labor of love from a team heavily influenced by the Nintendo Entertainment System and platforming genre that found maturity on it.
Venture Kid follows a boy named Andy is his quest to stop the evil Dr. Teklov. Andy must traverse the land and fight Dr. Teklov’s minions to stop the development of a diabolical weapon. With a girl to protect and a bearded mechanic to supply him with gadgets, armed with a handy blaster, Andy will stop at nothing until Dr. Teklov answers for his crimes!
Each stage takes place in a different biome with secrets to discover, resources to collect, and powerful artifacts from the past to uncover. After you defeat the boss for that region, you will receive a power-up which may assist you in the following levels. Look carefully, these secrets may hold the keys to defeating Teklov for good.
The controls feel very familiar as well. The control you have over Andy feels exactly how you would expect them to if this were a Mega Man game. You have directional keys along with a button to jump, a button to fire your weapon, and buttons to scroll through your gadgets. All of this makes for an incredible platforming experience. It really does follow the Mega Man formula, down some sound effects.
This, however, is where the experience started to sour a bit.
Venture Kid plays so heavily on its likeness to the source material that it almost forgets to become its own thing. Even in the places it tries to deviate, it feels disjointed and aimless. This aimlessness can be observed in everything from gadget functions to enemy design. Some enemies just make no cohesive sense with the worlds they are found in (i.e. giant kiwi birds in the desert) – almost like assets were flipped from other sources. Even the gadgets feels like a fair bit of an afterthought, with little apparent usefulness along the way.
This is where we return to my opening remarks about Mega Man 3. These games have always presented players with challenging platforming, cohesive level theming, and meaningful rewards. Venture Kid, mechanically, has solid platforming, it struggles to execute on the other fronts. Even though it does not fully capture the soul of its forbearers, Venture Kid does capture enough of its essence to evoke a sense of nostalgia. It is lives in the echoes of a bygone age along the dusty trails left behind.
If you are looking for a stroll down Mega Man-memory lane, Venture Kid offers a solid nostalgia trip down the side streets of the genre’s general neighborhood. Platforming feels tuned to the best examples of the era. Taking heavy influence from classic NES titles, Venture Kid captures the 8-bit age with pitch perfection, even if it misses the mark in other places.
He may not be the “Blue Bomber,” but this kid could be going places. He just needs a bit more direction to find his own way there.
Venture Kid is $10.00 USD on the Nintendo Store.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Mega Man