Kid Chaos (Ocean) Review | Amiga Power - Everygamegoing

Amiga Power

Kid Chaos
By Ocean
Amiga 500

Published in Amiga Power #41

Kid Chaos

What would you do if you were catapulted forward thousands of years?

Phew. Good job we held off reviewing Kid Chaos until it had been completely finished and had had its name finalised, eh? Otherwise we might have done something embarrassing like writing 'Kid Vicious' on our cover.

Buy anyway. Nomenclature confusion aside, Kid Chaos looked decidedly impressive when Ocean first showed it to us last month. Developers Magnetic Fields really did seem to have got to the bottom of what makes a good platform game.

Kid Chaos

Kid Chaos didn't just scroll really fast - heck, a game could scroll from one side of the playing area to the other in 0.25 seconds without necessarily being any fun - but it made use of that speed by sending you flying joyously through conveniently-placed lines of collectables, hurling you miles up into the air and flinging you from bumper to bumper in pure rapture. And on top of that it was full of original thinking, like having little Duck Shoot and Breakout games at the ends of levels. Magnetic Fields genuinely seemed to know what they were doing.

So it came as something of a surprise when I jumped down a shaft near the end of level 3 and got killed by some spikes. There weren't any spikes at the bottoms of the last two shafts I'd jumped down. I had no way of knowing there'd be some at the bottom of this one. I put my head in my hands and wept, realising for the first time that Kid Chaos is, in fact, no different. It's just like all the others.


And as it turns out, Kid Chaos is a game of extremes. On the one hand, there are the brilliant, truly inspired features like the spiky balls which make stereophonic swooshing noises as they swing from side to side (once you've turned off the ill-advised rave soundtrack), and the way your power level gradually rises if you stand still, so you can trade time for energy, or the little room in the Toy Factory where you've got to bash into rows of Space Invader-shaped baddies. And on the other hand there are pointless, brainless things like barrels which suddenly come rolling towards you giving you no chance of avoiding them unless you're expecting them, and bumpers which send you flying backwards into spiky pits, and spikes which blend into the background so well that, although you can just about make them out while you're standing still, you've no chance of spotting them when the screen is scrolling, and - perhaps most witless of all - orange bubbles which inexplicably appear *directly on top of your sprite* and kill him. It's a bizarre kind of Jekyll and Hyde-type situation, good versus evil, and at the moment I'm not exactly sure which side triumphs. Going back to the good things, the settings make a refreshing change. You'll find no slippy-slidey ice worlds or runaway mine-carts. Instead, there are neat ideas like the Toy Factory where all the toys are running amok, and the pollution-ridden Toxic Wasteland, even if it does start off in a garden.


Kid Chaos

The graphics are generally all right as well, if a bit muddily-coloured. The levels are about the right length, and each one has got a different emphasis, whether it's having to make your way carefully through a particularly trickily-placed series of platforms, having to hunt around for thinly spread Smashable Things (which you've got to hit a certain number of times to open each level's exit), or simply having to race to the end against a particularly tight time limit. This, along with the amusing end-of-level bits, makes for a game containing plenty of variety.

But what about the momentum on Kid himself? It's a real effort to get him moving, and just as tough to get him to stop again, which means he's constantly blundering into baddies, sliding off platforms and not being able to make it off collapsing platforms. And he's hardly the most identifiable-with of characters - a caveman in Zany Cool Sneakers who I was rarely sorry to see plunging to his death. Cute woodland animals might be cliched, but they do at least appeal to the protective instinct in us all.

Kid Chaos has got lovely bits where you go whizzing along winding pipes and burst joyfully out of the end, and then completely stupid bits where you've got to tiptoe between closely-placed crushers, only can't possibly make it through because the controls are so sluggish. It sends you bouncing in exhilarating zig-zags between carefully-placed bumpers, but then puts an electric force field at the end that you go flying towards and die. It recognises a second disk drive, but then draws a huge picture of a disk on the screen and writes "Please insert disk 2" when disk 2's already there. *And there's a power-up which reverses your controls*!

Kid Chaos

I desperately wanted Kid Chaos to be a great game and, on balance, I think I like it quite a bit more than I hate it. But it's almost as if Magnetic Fields spent months writing this beautifully platform game, fine-tuning it down to the very last detail, and then left it on the kitchen table overnight ready to post off to Ocean the next day, whereupon some mischievous mice crept in and inserted a load of completely ridiculous flaws into it, in a sort of reverse Tailor of Gloucester scenario.

And yes, it does look like Sonic.

The Bottom Line

Uppers: Doesn't just half-heartedly mimic Sonic, but manages to capture all the best bits of it. In places it's truly uplifting as you get sucked along pipes and thrown from bumper to bumper. The graphics are consistently good, and the sound effects are pretty spicy too. There's a thoughtfully-implemented password system. And, above all, it's varied, getting more and more complex the further you get.

Downers: But there are enough classic blunders to keep Kangaroo Court going for months. Spitefully-placed spikes, obstacles you can't avoid unless you memorise the entire game's layout, sluggish controls and restart points directly in the path of deadly laser bolts conspire to make it intensely frustrating.

Kid Chaos could have been something really special, but is relegated to mere 'Well worth a look' status by a catalogue of ludicrous flaws. If you buy it, be prepared to explain your blood-curdling howls of exasperation to the neighbours.

Jonathan Davies

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