Borrowing heavily from the presentation of Crossy Road and Shooty Skies (both great “endless” iOS games from Hipster Whale), The VideoKid came this week to Switch for the grand price of €4,99. At that price it’s hard to say no, so I said yes.
I’ve spent some time today playing and replaying the game. Here are my thoughts.
An much as this game draws influence from the aforementioned games from Hipster Whale, particularly in its graphical style and quirky manner, this is essentially a Paperboy clone. Your avatar skateboards along the street in a not-quite-diagonal fashion, throwing video cassettes at houses along the way. Get a cassette into a postbox and gain a few cents. Save money to unlock new character outfits and special moves for your skateboard – all quite cosmetic but giving you some reason to replay.
The ultimate aim, besides making your deliveries, is to meet your girlfriend at the park. On the way you must dodge two-way traffic and pedestrians by switching between three lanes and jumping – though not all obstacles can be jumped over.
As the title suggests, there is an 80s theme to the game, with cameos from many favourites. So far I’ve spotted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, the guys from Lethal Weapon, the A-Team, Peanuts, Flintstones, Indiana Jones, Pac-Man, and many more. I’ve been run over by Lion-O in the Thundertank, tripped in the sewers by Master Splinter. I’ve thrown tapes at the Fraggles, California Raisins and the Chipmunks.
I had a lot of fun with the game, finding the “Play Again” option tempting me with each failure. It’s certainly been worth the entry price already, and I’m not done with it yet, though I do have some negative comments.
For a start, the game is very linear in its design. At the same point you see the same things happening. Whilst this may help in eventually making it to your goal (something I’ve not yet achieved), it starts to drag. There is one point I can think of in particular where you collect a power glove power up that throws a stream of cassettes. It appears at the same point, and is followed by the same series of events, every time, and is ultimately pointless.
It may be a little easier to swallow the repetitive nature if the challenge wasn’t in the speed (and sometimes difficulty avoiding) the enemy traffic, but instead in the key mechanic of delivering VHS tapes which suffers from a significant failing – no limits. You can throw cassettes to your heart’s content, just keep on tapping B. Paperboy had limited papers for your to throw, with more to be collected en route.
An additional mechanic lost from Paperboy is in the actual deliveries you make. You get 25 cents per postbox delivery, but you also get 10 cents for deliveries through your customers’ (now broken) windows. Throw a tape through non-customers’ windows and get a few points, no money. It seems this could have been better implemented – losing points for breaking customer property would make more sense and provide a penalty and a reason to pay attention.
Still, ultimately it doesn’t matter as there is little compulsion to earn money or points. The change of outfit does little for your character, besides letting you briefly enjoying dressing as Marty McFly, Or Cookie Monster. The additional special tricks don’t seem to change much, and the game moves so fast I’ve barely seen them in action. Ultimately the game just becomes an exercise in trying to get a bit further towards your goal.
So, a fun distraction for a few hours sure, but not one of the greats by a long shot. It is chock full of nostalgia for people of a certain age, but there’s not a lot of substance under the sparkly surface, and a few things that could be improved.
Do I recommend you buy the game? If you’ve enjoyed similar things before, or have a soft spot for the nostalgia is provides, then yes. The price is right.
Seek me on Twitter if you want a chat @BitlandGaming. Cheers.