Boasting a delightfully garish neo-retro style and fine line in old school difficulty, Gamevil’s latest, Kami Retro (out now, $0.99), an expertly crafted love letter to the 8-bit era, feels familiar enough to be instantly intuitive, yet its gripping gameplay remains surprisingly fresh throughout.
Set across a series of primary colored, Mario Land-esque environments, the aim of each of Kami Retro’s 60 levels is, on paper at least, straightforward – guide four blockheaded little chaps from A) a green entrance to B) a red exit, avoiding an array of stock platform game obstacles/traps – spikes, man-eating plants, pools of water and other pitfalls – as you go.
The first handful of stages focus on the platforming aspect of the game, allowing you to get to grips with the basics of navigating these colorful obstacle courses. Puzzles that involve figuring out where you’re supposed to place items like fans, trampolines and cannons around environments are then incrementally introduced to the mix as you progress.
Now, platformer’s controls are notoriously hit-and-miss on iOS, but Kami Retro’s streamlined combination of automatic movement and well-timed swipes of your finger on the touchscreen (you swipe horizontally to quickly change your character’s direction and diagonally to jump) works well once you get the hang of it. Similarly, the physics-based puzzling side of things is made as painless as possible with a tried and tested tap, drag-and-drop mechanic.
While an easily grasped concept and well devised control scheme ensure Kami Retro is eminently playable, be warned, it’s not by any stretch of the imagination an easy game to conquer. On the contrary in fact, its ever rising difficulty curve, inspired level design and hyperactive pace mean its every bit as frustrating/irresistibly addictive as the classic games it evokes. Which is most probably exactly what the developers were aiming for. Replay value is also high thanks Game Center integration and the fact that, if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel hopelessly compelled to strive for a perfect three star rating on each and every level.
Okay, seeing as I’ve pretty much devoted the last five paragraphs to what I love about Kami Retro, I guess I had better mention a couple of negatives. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. Let’s see, an endlessly looping soundtrack and, albeit authentic, tinny sound effects do begin to grate after prolonged play, while, and this is most likely due to the sheer brilliance of what is on offer, having finished the game, I was still kinda left wanting for more.
iFanzine Verdict: This deliriously entertaining riff on the revered likes of Lemmings and Super Mario will appeal especially to retro-worshippers, but it’s accessible and addictive enough that I’d thoroughly recommend picking this up to anyone after a great looking and challenging game to get stuck into.