Developer: PixelTrip Studios
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
Release Date: 30 August 2018
Price: $4.99 / £3.99
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Upon learning that PixelTrip Studios' retro inspired game The VideoKid is a Back to the Future themed game that incorporates tons of 80’s throwbacks and a soundtrack by EDM legend Savant, it quickly garnered my attention. As soon as it starts up, there’s no denying it’s essentially a Paperboy clone. Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with that, and The VideoKid is much more than just an endless runner on steroids.
Back to Paperboy
You play as someone who looks eerily like Marty McFly. It’s your job to deliver a limitless supply of pirated movies to your neighbours, while trying to make it to the end where you’ll meet your heartthrob, Jessica. As mentioned, it’s basically an endless runner that’s non-apologetically inspired by 1985’s Paperboy. This is not your signature retro, pixelated art style indie title though. Instead, it uses the cube-like shapes found in games such as Crossy Road.
And, it’s not a simple case of riding your bike from one point to the next either. On route, you must perform tricks, avoid cops, admire the 80’s nostalgia and, of course, deliver your pirated videos.
But, what really makes it stand out from its predecessor is not only the controls, which mostly work well, but the settings, graphics and, most importantly, the references. Pretty much anything you can think of from the 80’s has been stuffed into The VideoKid. If you plan on picking up this title, be warned! I’m about to spoil a lot of the pop-culture references – and finding them on your own is half the fun.
The VideoKid is without a doubt trying to pull on nostalgic heartstrings and it’s not ashamed to flaunt that. Along the way, not only will you see nods to Superman, Homer Simpson and ET, but you’ll enjoy all kinds of 80’s references including the Terminator, Rocky, He-Man and TMNT. The list goes on, and I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg here.
Hasta La Vista, Kiddie
Each time you go along your video delivery route and manoeuvre around an eclectic mix of obstacles, you can grind your skateboard on cars and combine tricks to up your score. You need to keep one eye on the road, and the other on the post boxes. These red mailboxes need to be hit with video cassettes, and timing your throw can be hard to master – but it’s rather satisfying when you finally master it. For such simple gameplay mechanics, there’s actually a lot more going on than meets the eye.
The concept is straightforward, and your goal is always to get as far as you can while delivering bootleg VHS cassettes. But, you must also collect money which can be used to upgrade your character’s look, tricks, and power-ups. There are many costumes that can be unlocked, although I never felt the urge to get them all as amassing enough money to do so can be a slow process.
Video Killed the Radio Star
It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a different street layout, or even some weather differences or day and night changes to mix things up a bit, because you play the same areas for each run. This is a quick pick-up-and-play experience, and the repetitive nature of the neighbourhood and its obstacles don’t offer much in terms of replayability. After skating up the street a few times, you will have seen most of the game’s nostalgia trips and the NPCs that run or drive past. Without that variety, The VideoKid really lacks any appealing longevity.
Overall, it’s a very fun indie title that can be quite challenging if you want to push yourself to become the best. Some of the sound effects can be annoying, and it’s clear that it isn’t a game that’s meant to be played for a long time in one go. But, the nostalgic charm is overwhelming. A classic homage not only to the classic movies of old, but also to the games that we all grew up loving.
Pros & Cons
+ Never-ending love affair with the 80's
+ Fun gameplay and enjoyable gameplay sessions
+ Great music
- Annoying sound effects
- Controls can feel too slippery
- Repetitive gameplay loop