Retro Gaming Review: Battle Kid - Fortress Of Peril (Nintendo NES Homebrew)

BattleKidScreenshot4After a good few hours spent with Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril, it's finally time to give the verdict on this 'death-happy' Nintendo NES game. Having been inspired by 'I Wanna Be The Guy', how does Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril hold up?

For those not familiar with the title, Battle Kid is a brand new Nintendo NES game that was released on cartridge this year. Sivak Games has created a game that puts every gamer up to the challenge, finding out how much they can take while testing their skills, patience and memory. The game is heavily influenced by the classic Mega Man, Metroid and Castlevania series, while bringing in elements found in the more recent homebrew games such as Sybon Action (aka Cat Mario) and I Wanna Be The Guy. These two games have often been titled the 'Hardest Games of All Time', but can Sivak's Battle Kid join them?

Hard Mode

Upon loading up Battle Kid, you're instantly reminded of many NES classics due to the introduction story told with a few still images. Setting the scene, several silhouetted bad guys have found plans to create a Super Mech and it's up to you to traverse through the game and stop their evil plans (easier said than done).

My first few minutes with Battle Kid resulted in a quick press of the power switch and a few curse words. Inevitably, this game really is as difficult as the trailers suggested. Even though it offers options to choose your difficulty, the wording used is misleading. Easy should be written as Hard, Normal should be titled Very Hard, while the games hardest mode should be written as 'Impossible'.

Eventually, I built up the courage to take another stab at Battle Kid on Normal mode. This time, I decided to hold my patience and to slowly learn the game, something that is very much needed here.

Deadly falling apples

BattleKidScreenshot2The first level sets the bar where gameplay is concerned. Within a minute you'll find yourself battling the perfectly timed jumps while navigating enemy paths and blasting your way through. Similar to Mega Man, your bullet count is limited to 3 on screen, so any use of the gun needs to be well executed. After passing the first screen with a few simple enemies, you're instantly reminded of the games influences. Sitting comfortably on the trees in the background lies something incredibly deadly that most gamers would overlook... An apple. Similar to I Wanna Be The Guy, these apple will fall off the tree at great speeds as soon as you pass under. Lesson number 1 is learnt, don't stop unless it's safe!

Continuing on, the first real challenge you meet involves two enemies similar to the shielded enemies of Mega Man. These enemies only have a brief state of vulnerability which to our misfortune is when the shoot. This scene in particular requires quick, yet small jumps while launching as many bullets as possible, hoping to make an impact. During your first play, it's almost guaranteed this screen will consume a few lives, but by the time you're an hour into the game you will be laughing at scenes like this. What we just say was nothing other than a small glimpse of what's yet to come.

If there is one thing that needs to be made clear, it's how you become rather fond of this game after you get past the inital barrier of dying. What at first seems to be a real chore, repeating jumps and death traps, soon becomes a humourous moment that will have you coming back for more each time.

Metroidvania

BattleKidScreenshotAhhhh, the perfect description for a game like this. Similar to Castlevania and Metroid games, Battle Kid requires you to go back and forth via the warp points placed within the game to reach areas originally thought to be unreachable. Battle Kid's system requires you to find keys and upgrades that eventually change which way you travel through the game. What at first appears to be an unreachable ledge, will eventually be a quick jump after the first enhancement. The same thing can be said about the locked doors, numbered to each key they belong to.

With over 550 level screens in total, Battle Kid could potentially rival many of the Castlevania series for size and potentially take the title of 'Biggest NES game to date'. But with a big game comes a big challenge right? Well sure, but this isn't one you need to do in a whole sitting. Luckily, there are many continue points are dotted throughout the game and every death is greeted with a password. The passwords bring you right back to the continue point with all your collectibles, making this game one you can enjoy in a few sittings. The only problem with the 550 screen huge game, is that there isn't (at least I haven't seen one yet) mini map to indicate where you are and have been.

BattleKidScreenshot1Hidden within the many screens of Battle Kid also lies 8 different bosses to really put you to the test. The bosses hide behind the familiar boss gates of Mega Man & Castlevania letting you know that you're about to take on a big challenge. The first boss you will see in game is a huge mutated flower capable of firing thorns at you from every angle, while growing stems below your feet. If the path to the boss had not challenged you yet, then this boss certainly will. The old memories of video game bosses will flood your head at this point, as the bosses within this game are the type that follow patterns and mechanisms you will need to learn. Once mastered, it's up to you to follow these patterns and take advantage of them... if you can!

Gameplay Video

Worth getting?

Is Battle Kid the purchase for you? Well, you need to ask yourself a few simple questions first. Will you throw the controller at the TV if you struggle at tough parts of a game? Can you hold your patience while a game makes a joke out of you? And do you have a desire to play a new game that really challenges you?
If you answered yes to all three, then you definitely want to look into getting Battle Kid.

Battle Kid is nothing but a joy to play. Having overcome my initial feud with the game and given it the time it deserved, I found myself falling in love with the challenges it presented for me. With every death I suffered in game, I continued on and never thought to stop.

My only requirements for this game, which it currently doesn't feature are:

  1. A Death Counter (Surely it would be great seeing how many times you've lost to this game)
  2. A Mini Map (As stated above, I haven't found one yet)

Apart from these two small things, Battle Kid is nothing short of genius. The pixel perfect jumps and annoying enemies make this quite easily the best Homebrew game I have played in a long time. Sivak, we are all anticipating your next release.

 

Link: Buy Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril


Last Updated ( 12 April 2010 )  

Cauterize

Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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