When it comes to modern games trying to pay tribute to retro classics, nailing the balance between making a fun modern game and an appropriate homage is really tough. It can be done – Shovel Knight on console and PC is a fantastic example of how to pay tribute to Mega Man, Castlevania, and the like. And we look at Horizon Chase [Free] on mobile, which did an amazing job at balancing out the feel of retro racing games while not being as clunky, frustrating, and unfair as many of those games were. There's a balance to be had. Venture Kid [$4.99] from FDG Entertainment clearly wants to pay tribute to Mega Man in everything it's about, and in doing so, it's kind of a solid platformer, but it mostly just misses the point of what made the game it's paying tribute to so great.

Venture Kid 1

I love pixel art, and Venture Kid does a great job at nailing the Mega Man look. But it winds up in practice feeling more like a generic game than trying to break any new stylistic ground. There's nothing memorable about the characters or bosses. The main character, Andy, is just some dude. The environments are just forest, ice, Egyptian environments. I can barely remember any of the bosses, that's how uninspiring they are. The pixel art is nice and appealing in general, but look nice is all it really does.

Venture Kid perplexingly decides to chunk out one of the coolest parts of Mega Man: the nonlinearity and relationships between weapons and bosses. Venture Kid is linear and gives you a new weapon or tool every time you defeat a boss, but it's not like the weapon is essential to defeat the boss or even make it through the next level. It just kind of helps. It feels like it's halfway between the Mega Man model of "you need this weapon to defeat every single boss" and the Zelda model of "this tool you get you will immediately need to continue on your adventure." Instead, defeating air enemies is suddenly a bit easier when you get the rocket.

Venture Kid 2

This is the problem with the game: it's fine to toss out elements. Even Shovel Knight tossed out the entire nonlinearity of Mega Man and gave you just a few different choices in how to progress. But that's a byproduct of smart design. Venture Kid feels a lot more like it's just changing things without necessarily worrying about the impact that they're going to have.

I'm slagging a lot on Venture Kid, and honestly, I have a lot of problems with it, but at the core of it, ripping off Mega Man isn't necessarily the worst thing. Mega Man's still fun, after all. And Venture Kid goes a step farther in feeling a lot more smooth to play, and more forgiving than the classics do. It's still got its frustration and annoyances, some born of classic rules and some of modern changes. But at worst, it feels like a decent enough platformer and it gets enough right to be an okay experience.

Venture Kid 3

The touch controls work well for movement and jumping, with weapon switching set to the top parts of the screen used to switch between them. It doesn't explain how the system works, and I thought initially just tapping the icon would work. It'd be nice if there was more explanation, but you do have options here. You can pause and switch weapons, but that involves pausing the game and interrupting your experience, of course. You can switch weapons from the shoulder buttons on an MFi controller, of course. I do wish Venture Kid supported the Apple TV, as the latency that comes from AirPlay or even the HDMI adapter is a problem for a game that requires twitch reactions like this.

Venture Kid is $0.99 with IAP: the orbs you earn in game can be bought. There are some permanent upgrades that you can buy with orbs, but if you save up over time, or buy the $5.99 orb doubler, you can get them pretty quickly. Still, you might have a disadvantage over having less health or the weapon balancer for a shorter amount of time. And the weapon balancer, where ammo you pick up automatically goes to weapons that need it, feels like it shouldn't necessarily be a thing that you have to buy. But, this is 2016, I suppose, and the mass market won't pay a lot for games up front, so that's the reality. Other games can and have been far worse.

Venture Kid is unquestionably a decent game, a platformer that's entertaining enough if you were curious about it. There are far better retro tributes and original platformers, and Venture Kid never really gets past the "Hey, remember Mega Man" stage of being a good platformer. It's kind of entertaining, but unspectacular.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Fastbridge

    I'm surprised to see this kind of review on this game. It's a great game in a space that has not had to many lately. Give it some credit:(

  • ThRaShEr

    😂 Brutal. I actually thought the boss on the second level is highly memorable, it's been since the NES/SNES days that's it's taken me that much time to pass a boss. You can also play the game comfortably with paying your way through it, and that's always a win in my book.

  • paulkane

    While I have not picked up Venture Kid yet, I HAVE been following the thread closely and it seems to be loved by most. 3.5 firestorm, GO!

  • LordShad0wz

    This review is just wrong and way way off. The writer is out of touch. This is a great game. It translates well to touch screen and the boss fights are awesome. This game deserves a better review than this. Take a look at the games thread and see for yourself.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      FWIW the vibe of this review was pretty unanimous for us, Carter isn't a crazy cranky lone wolf on this one. We also discussed these issues during last week's podcast if you're interested in hearing more.

      • LordShad0wz

        Ok I'll listen to it later when I get home. I'm always open to other points of view. But I disagree with the review. For me when I first started playing I knew this game was something special. I immediately had a nostalgia memory trip. The first boss was just awesome. As to carter being a crank pot I don't know him personally. I do know that he gave the gave a low rating and I disagree with it and since most of the thread seems to love it it would put him on the outside. This game is absolutely memorable. I'd know venture kid anywhere.

      • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

        From the podcast: Eli stopped playing at level 2 and was disappointed, Jared was disappointed first but started to love it after keeping at it and working his way through the 90's difficulty level. So if you combine both the result is mixed. About Carter: I'm sad that he didn't even play the whole game to give a verdict.

      • LordShad0wz

        597 AppStore users have given it a 5 star rating. And this is a paid game. On Touch Arcade 27 users have given this game a 5 star rating and again this is a paid game. The AppStore is usually a brutal and unfair place but it's cumulative score is 5 stars.

      • nini

        It's a good game if you mean to keep gaming like it's still 1988, makes sense that it'd get 5 stars simply because of the audience it's aiming at and they're probably faithful after Slayin'.

      • putermcgee

        Not sure why 3.5/5 is considered low.

      • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

        Because we live in a world where everything below 80% Metascore is considered bad by the majority of players. Like-no buy- or -buy for 80% off on Steam sale.

    • DenzilofDojima

      I have to agree with Carter. The game does feel extremely generic and the level design is flat out uninspired. I don't think it holds a candle to any of the main Megaman entries (in fact I think it's unfair on VK to compare the two in any detail). Taken on its own merits the game is ok, but hey, for those that love it, enjoy!

      • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

        Anyone can download Mega Man 2 Lite for free. Please check it out. Let me know if you find this mobile experience light years ahead.

      • DenzilofDojima

        I wouldn't call the poor iOS ports of MM representative of a good MM experience. VK may be a smoother experience on mobile and may even be THE best Megaman like game on iOS. I don't think that necessarily makes it a great game.

  • H4nd0fg0d

    I sadly have to agree, Carter. Nothing awe inspiring.

    • demod1

      I don't think anyone said awe inspiring, but 3.5 is to low and the review sounds pissy. It's definitely a fun retro gamer.

  • sobriquet

    Comparing the game to console and PC games seems unfair. If you can point out a better Mega Man like game in the App Store, I'd be happy to check it out. As of now though I have to completely disagree with this review.

    • ScotDamn

      That isn't very good logic. Just because the App Store doesn't have a better game in the same ilk doesn't make this one great.

      • sobriquet

        I'm simply asking for a fair comparison. Also, saying that it's not as good as a game on console or PC is very logical. His review was all about how the game doesn't do what other games have done. Either way we have already discovered that he hardly even played the game so he clearly didn't even do the leg work to make sure his review was honest.

      • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

        Venture Kid is made with the idea to create a new complete NES game with music that could be played right off the NES Hardware (100% authentic tunes) and the same goes for graphics and gameplay. There's no alternative for this game on App Store and it is unfair to compare it to games with a completely different budget, gameplay model and on console. You can't compare a controller based game with a touchscreen game.

      • gakuka

        Just because it's the best game of its kind on the App Store doesn't make it great? Umm, yes, I think that's the very definition of what makes something great, assuming you're talking about a game you might get at the App Store.

        Seriously, it's like saying Lone Wolf isn't as good as the Silent Scope arcade game, so it's crap. Well, we're not here to talk about the greatest games on any console/platform, we're here to talk about mobile games, so a console game is definitely not a fair comparison and if this is the best game of its kind on the App Store, 3.5 seems a little odd. He had some good points, and reviews are of course a matter of opinion, but I agree that comparing it to Mega Man on the NES is not fair, compare it to Rex Rocket or something.

      • ScotDamn

        That isn't at all what I'm saying. Comparing a game doesn't make it good or bad. The game itself is either good or bad. Stating that since there isn't a good game of the same genre on the App Store doesn't make a game good.

      • gakuka

        I see what you're saying, and I agree that you should rate the game as it is, standalone. I'm sorry that I misunderstood your point.
        I'm only framing what I feel is and is not a fair comparison for mobile games. I feel this is one of the best Megaman-type games for mobile, and I think it's a 5-star all the way, but if people don't like it then there's not much to say against their opinion :).

  • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

    I wonder how far Carter played - some items are very important especially in later levels. Spike shoes, Double Jump, Shield anyone? It's not just about weapons. And it's got more environments than you say. I also think this is a complete NES console experience rarely found on iOS. But yeah - it's not in the caliber of Shovel Knight - but I highly doubt it will be well playable on portable touchscreen devices. I rarely reply to press reviews but this one is harsh. I'll head back to read feedback from players out there so I can stop crying ;./

    • sobriquet

      I was thinking the same thing about the levels. Maybe he can't remember those either. I mean really, can't remember the bosses. Give me a break.

      • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

        Yeah...and the levels : Wood, ice and pyramid...nope - it's more than that! I mean this is factually not correct, if you start mentioning the various level environments then please mention them all

      • Daniel Schroeder

        It sounds like you would only be satisfied if he had listed every single environment and item in the game as proof of... something.

      • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

        The amount of environments is a variety factor that does count and saying it's just 3 when it's triple the amount is just..wrong.

  • Brrobotix

    The 3.5 Strikes again! Nah, thanks for having the guts to go against the grain with this one. People need to know when games don't live up to their hype sometimes. That said, a 3.5 shouldn't necessarily be damning, its like a 70%. It's passing, just not amazing.

    • sobriquet

      If you go to the forum thread you will see that the game did indeed live up to the hype and in some cases exceeded it. Even the App Store reviews are mostly positive and that place is brutal.

      • Brrobotix

        I'm not arguing one way or another about this, I havent played it myself. I'm sure if it earned a 3.5 it's at the very least a decent game, especially since TA pretty much only reviews the top 1% of games released in a given week. Also the App Store reviews are usually more indicative of a generous pay scheme than a quality game.

  • eventide

    Glad to see TA be a little tough on a well recieved game. Kinda refreshing honestly. The game has its merits but ultimately it is pretty shallow and forgettable.

    • http://www.fdg-entertainment.com Future777

      How far did you play it ?

  • cloudpuff

    Totally respect your opinion, if you don't like it, you don't like it. Nowt wrong with that. There's more than three environments though.
    It's one of my fave games at the moment, the Iap are totally not needed and it's doesn't take long to get orbs to buy extra lives etc. it's one of the few games I'll play until I've completed it, and for 79p it's a bargain. I've already had two and a half flours play and I'm only halfway through.

  • speedyph


  • peanutbrittle

    Considering that Slayin was a blatant ripoff of a smaller indie dev's fledgling IP, a fact that FDG turned a blind eye to, it's unsurprising that their latest app is another derivative piece of shovelware.

    • korossyl

      I haven't heard anything about this. What did it rip off?

  • philadendron

    I'm torn. It's obviously very generic but the core mechanics work well and the nostalgic art is at least consistent. The game has a very fair and steep difficulty, which is quite nostalgic in and of itself. Also, there are a ton of fun achievements. Overall, a well made game that's worth playing, but devoid of memorable personality. I'll at least beat it on Normal, then achievement-hunt before I move on. Well worth $1.

  • gwarmaxx

    i agree with Carter in all your points... as far as i'm concerned, a couple of hours after purchase i've already realized that it wouldn't be a memorable game, and now that i've almost reached the end, can say that is light years away from classics like Mega Man, Castlevania or Metroid... another disappointment, at least for me.
    Come guys, let's stop deceiving ourself everytime someone says that is coming a new Metroidvania or a new Megaman lookalike game, those days and game philosophies are gone... or in all this years of App Store have you played many Mega Man/Castlevania/Metroid games???

  • tex32

    Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I don't know of another game on IOS that has been this awesome in the vein of Mega Man - Not to mention, at 99 cents, this game is a complete steal. Really hoping this does well, as I would love to see a sequel.

  • CodeREd

    I agree with this review. There's a lot of nostalgia with this game, but it isn't on the same level as Megaman. The main character is just some dude, is the first thing I thought of when I saw this game in action.

    • sobriquet

      There was this game back in the day that I used to play where the main character was just some dude. What was it called again, oh yeah, Mario Brothers.

      • CodeREd

        Yeah except Mario brothers wasn't based on Mario brothers, it was its own unique idea.

      • sobriquet

        So you're saying that because Venture Kid is inspired by Megaman it's protagonist should have been something different?

    • gakuka

      It's not Megaman, but Megaman isn't $.99.

  • alduinslayer

    People, it's Carter "3.5" Dotson. This is to be expected.

  • Shane Rogers

    I would say this is a surprising review, but then again, these are the same guys that chose Land Sliders as the game of the year ....

  • gakuka

    I rated this game 5 stars and I still feel that way, so I was disappointed to see the 3.5. However, after reading your review and fairly considering your points, I see where you are coming from. Fact is, for me the nostalgia factor is so high that it skews my rating. You are rating it more impartially as a standalone game, where I see it more as an homage to Mega Man. Well done staying impartial, but I'm happy the App Store ratings are from my fellow skewed nostalgic gamers :).

  • Brawwwn

    I don't have an opinion on this game but take everything from TA with a grain of salt after Landsliders GOTY in a year with Downwell and The Executive. However, I digress, this is all very subjective and you can not please everyone.

  • johnchiafos

    I'm torn on this game as well. It does so much right... Love the homages, love the presentation. It's EXTREMELY playable. I wish it had a stronger story and some stronger ideas. It's kinda cool that they homage castlevania and mega man in the same game, but as I play it those ideas don't mesh well in the same game.

    I also very much hope they give it a sequel.

  • demod1

    This is an excellent retro platformer that is even more fun with my Mad Catz Micro CTRLi! IMO this review is in poor taste and to me sounds like it was just too difficult for the reviewer. Maybe for the entire Touch Arcade gang. Welcome to NES! LOL! Just like with IGN... When they stopped enjoying video games, I stopped reading their reviews.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Poor taste is personally attacking someone because their opinion doesn't align with your own. As someone who has beaten every mainline Mega Man game multiple times over my 34 years as a gamer, and who will very happily do it all over again when the new collection comes out on 3DS, Venture Kid is just alright. It's really not even that hard, not even close to as hard as the first Mega Man. I certainly enjoyed it (and am still enjoying it) more than Carter, but his criticisms are valid. Just because the game is "just a buck" or "just a mobile game" shouldn't mean it gets a pass on its faults. But hey, go ahead and hand wave it all off with "lol you suck at gamez lol"

      • demod1

        Attacking? Give it a rest before you spill over.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        You specifically said he gave this game the review he did because it was too difficult for him. Then you made fun of all of TA staff saying it was too hard for us, too. Then you lol'd, then you implied that we don't enjoy video games anymore. At least have the balls to stand behind the things you say.

      • demod1

        I have the balls to say you're carrying on like a vagina right now. Quit your pissing and go play a video game or something! Try not to be a whiny turd over a little criticism and stop taking things so seriously. "Then you lol'd..." Holy crap! Come off it already! You guys are reviewing games. I didn't snatch up your Oscar.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Whoa, that was definitely over the line. Bye.

  • GiHubb

    If anything, Carter was too generous. I felt the game is completely uninteresting, with dull level design and ugly generic graphics (just because they are pixelated, doesn't make it pretty). For me this is a 2 out 5. Good review overall.

    • bigred447uk

      Did you come to this conclusion after buying and completing the game in its entirety? Or perhaps this is a throwaway comment from someone who has neither bought the game or played it?

      • GiHubb

        Played a couple of levels, couldn't tolerate more. All you people who love the game - chill, people are allowed different opinions.

  • GamerGangsta

    Typical Carter , a lot mo bitching about a game thats harder, if it was free to play , he'd probably give it an extra star , throw in timers and ads another half star , anything premium gets 3.5 , he even said Monument valley wasnt a game and rated it lower than TA , he was reviewing for 148 apps at the time , and 3 stars for Limbo , how can we forget ... His reviews also always have a pompous attitude , trashing nostalgia, the devs past efforts , anything other than focus on the game which he probably didnt play through , not go fart in the crater

  • Mark Cee

    Think it was pointless comparing to Megaman, look at it in it's own light! I don't think generic can really be said about the bosses. I mean a motorbike revving forward and backwards- how's that not uninspired?(unless that was in Megaman? I don't know)
    I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the game, but it IS very popular on the forums. I think my criticism is in line with the silly need to pause to change weapons, but also the general difficulty I found more frustrating than an enjoyable experience.

  • David Barajas

    A lot of the people who comment will be those who complain or disagree about something. But I'll be one of those who agree with the rating. It's not a bad rating. It's not the best but it's also far from the best mobile game. With so many other games way better than this, in way more ways, I would even go along with a 3 star if that's what was put.

    • Anthony

      Agreed, heck there is nothing at all wrong with the 3.5 score. I think they have more of a problem with some of the reviews comments than the score itself.

  • Anthony

    Tons of app store 5 star reviews disagree with you not to mention this sites forums as well. And that is fine, it is all just peoples opinions anyway. IDD with you on the point that no one should be slagging this site over the review and I would guess the devs did drop their site support because of the review and also due to the lack of a disclaimer (the dev supports this site monetarily) when the review is average but when a review is good the disclaimer is attached to it. I understand how that would bother the developer.

Venture Kid Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 3.5