There’s no point in beating around the bush: a cursory glance at the screenshots will have you thinking that this game is yet another in a long line of stock-and-standard retro platformers. Well, dear reader, your assumptions will be largely correct, but Bloo Kid 2 is nonetheless a worthy excursion for fans of the genre.
Out of the Bloo
This title will likely be familiar to mobile gamers, where it endeared many people by offering near-perfect touchscreen controls and a welcome splash of classic platforming goodness in a market dominated largely by endless runners and Flappy Bird clones. Its transition to the 3DS is therefore both understandable and risky; it seems made for Nintendo’s venerable handheld platform, but can it still be appealing going up against the very titles that serve as its inspiration? With a price tag to boot?
The short answer is: yes. It feels made for the 3DS, and the added 3-D effects, though not essential to gameplay, are a welcome addition and help make the title seem fresh. It’s also an interesting contrast to the decidedly 16-bit look and feel that the game merrily wraps itself in.
As the titular Bloo Kid, players will traverse a number of biomes with familiar platformer themes: we’re talking forest worlds, ice worlds, desert worlds and so forth. Each of these has a number of sub-levels with a “castle” level and a boss fight, not unlike Super Mario Bros. 3 without the overworld map. Things start off easy enough, but before long you’ll find yourself being forced to execute increasingly precise jumps and avoiding ever-more numbers of enemies, placed in ways to ensure that players get migraines.
The levels are not too tough, especially for its target audience of platformer aficionados. Bloo Kid’s ability to double-jump ensures that movement is fluid and dynamic, and even tricky jumps never feel cheap or unfair. Clearing any of the worlds isn’t too much of a tall order and some may find the whole affair a tad on the easy side. However, the developers have ensured an amount of replayability by adding a rather robust roster of achievements: each level awards players for stars collected and enemies killed, as well as finishing the level with full health, within a time limit and being able to catch a floating balloon that appears near a level’s exit. Finally, each level also has three secret blue stars – not unlike the Dragon Coins from the Mario games – which become increasingly hard to find as the game wears on. Of course, not everybody will be interested in getting 100% in all the levels, but it does add a reason to return to them, especially since it’s fundamentally impossible to unlock everything in a single playthrough. It should also be noted that, while the game plays well throughout, it’s from the third world onwards that it really comes into its own, perfectly balancing difficulty, flow and more interesting level design.
Graphics and sound follow suite in their retro encapsulation, perfectly mimicking the style from the 16-bit and 8-bit eras. Visuals are bright, colourful and well-animated and invoke the feeling that you’re playing a long lost title from the SNES library. It’s especially nifty when playing with the 3D effects turned on, as the differing layers of parallax make the affair entirely more immersive. A slight complaint though is the presence of platforms which are coloured as if they belong in the background but are in fact usable. It’s nothing too serious and it didn’t cause me to die unfairly, but it’s a bit of a confusing inconsistency in an otherwise flawless visual presentation.
On the audio side of things, the effects are remiscent of arcade-y blips and bloops, perfectly complimenting the overall theme. Music, too, is a catchy collection of chiptune goodness, and a few tracks – especially the invincibility jingle – ended up stuck in my head for days on end.
Something borrowed, something Bloo
Bloo Kid 2 will not win any points for originality. In fact, I could call it downright generic. But as strange as it may seem, that’s not entirely a criticism. With so many gimmicky platformers on the market, it’s a refreshing change to play a game that, ironically, has a lack of gimmicks as its only gimmick. It doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not and its lack of pretense and accessibility make it an endearing little bundle of retro-style goodness. Have you got an itch to play a Sega Mega Drive or Super Nintendo-style platform game? Then you need to get Bloo Kid 2 now.