Propelling Onto Consoles
Kick & Fennick is 3D side-scrolling, platform adventure that was originally released for PS Vita in early 2015 by Dutch studio, Jaywalkers Interactive. Over a year later, we are now getting the console versions of the game for the Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U. Kick & Fennick is a fun platformer to be sure, and the transfer from the handheld to the console seems great, but the game lacks certain elements that makes it feel like an afterthought.
The mechanics in Kick & Fennick are pretty straightforward as the gun you obtain at the beginning of the game has two different uses; firing and propulsion. When you aim the gun forward, a solid line appears which indicates that you can fire upon your robotic enemies. Reverse the aim by using moving the controllers stick away from where you are facing, and a dotted line appears which indicates how far you can propel yourself onto another area from the recoil of the gun. This physics behind this come from your character, Kick, being a small child and the gun being way to big for him to handle under normal circumstances.
The game takes a while to get into as most of the levels are pretty standard in order for you, the player, to get used to the controls. The real challenges start happening in the middle of the second world as you have to time your moves well to get to the next area or platform. You only have two shots with the gun when it comes flying in mid-air. When you start aiming for your second time to avoid obstacles, time will slow down enough for you to be more precise with your shot as some geometry come into play. Getting through tight areas with electrical fields on both sides of the area; firing your gun to break apart a wall while in mid-air and then using your second jump to land in a safe area; and even experimenting to reach areas to find extra items will become standard as it only gets more difficult along the way. Using simple geometry and physics is this game’s staple. Kick & Fennick will keep your mind sharp as the ability to cover a large portion of the level map without landing will make you feel accomplished, especially when mid-air shooting is involved.
In fact, the last half of the game is where you will have the most fun as new ways to get around the level are introduced, like bounce pads for example. The game itself seems to run perfectly fine for the most part, but there were times that the camera angle liked to change to a shot where it is looking up at my character which made it hard to know where I needed to go. Most of the time it fixed itself as soon as I catapulted myself somewhere just to get the camera back in place.
What kept this game from being one of the best platformers to come out is the lack of story. When the game begins, Kick wakes up from what appears to be a deep sleep. Moments later he meets a robot that looks like he is in need of servicing. From there, you are traversing through what appears to be a futuristic city that is very clean and full of plant life. There are no real moments between the two characters that makes us care for either of them, nor are there any scenes that show us the deep connection that they seem to have. Everything from the start is just simply there and no reason is given as to why. Even some kind of back story to the city that you are traveling through would have been good as it comes across as a very clean, Mirror’s Edge-like, metropolis.
There is some replay value to the game besides adjusting the difficulty level. Each level has fifty nodes to collect, and one special gear to search for. Most of the time I found that it was easy to get at least 46 of the nodes during my first play through in each level, but there were always those last remaining four I had to find. There is no real need to collect all the nodes except for health reasons, but if you want the diamond star then you will have to go back through the level.
Kick & Fennick is a fun game that pushes players to be calculating and precise with physics when using the two jump opportunities. There will be a great amount of repetition involved where you will probably have to start back at the beginning of a level at some point, unless you put the game on its easy difficulty. A deeper story would have been preferred as the friendship of the characters seems to just happen and there are no events that really deepen it any. Regardless, Kick & Fennick is a solid platformer and is a good addition to any console’s library.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, Wii U; Publisher: Abstraction Games ; Developer: Jaywalkers Interactive; Players: 1 ; Released: June 3rd, 2016 ; ESRB: E10+ ; MSRP: $14.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Kick & Fennick given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.