Just a caveman, getting a little more than he bargained for.
They say that, when meeting new people, first impressions are everything. The same is true, to a certain extent, for video games; if a game makes a bad first impression, it can be difficult for it to come back from that and leave me with fond memories. That’s not always the case – for example, I like Shining Resonance Refrain quite a bit even though it has a really rough start – but it’s usually how it goes. Jet Kave Adventure is a game that had its share of ups and downs throughout its very short runtime, but the question is whether it ended on an up or a down.
There’s not much of a story to go on with Jet Kave Adventure. It puts you in control of a caveman named Kave, who gets exiled from his tribe. He finds a crashed alien ship, and after the alien heads to the nearby volcano to find more fuel, Kave takes its discarded jetpack and takes off after the alien. His adventure takes him through four worlds, with nine stages each for a total of only 36 stages.
Not a bad start
At first glance, the game comes across as some cheaply-made 3D indie game. Cut-scenes don’t have many sound effects and everything seems to move strangely slowly, meaning that everything that happens lacks any kind of weight or momentum. There’s no dialogue, with communication happening through simple images in speech bubbles. That being said, all the cut-scenes seem fairly inconsequential, and the game’s main focus is clearly meant to be on the gameplay.
After a somewhat rough opening, once I actually got into the first stage, I found myself somewhat impressed. The game plays surprisingly well, and even if it doesn’t do anything groundbreaking it still seems to be a fairly competent 2D platformer. Running, jumping and attacking all feel good to do, and once you get the jetpack in the second stage it adds an extra layer as well. In addition to just having limited flight to extend your jump, the jetpack also allows you to dash in any direction. The dash serves as another way to attack, lets you break through obstacles you can’t break just with your club, and also gives you a limited period of invulnerability to rush through certain hazards.
There are a number of secrets to be found in each stage. Most of these only have currency that can be used to purchase upgrades or food that can be used to restore your health, but there’s one statue per stage to find as well. Most of the secrets are just behind walls that can be broken by dashing, although after a certain point I no longer bothered trying to find secrets and just tried to get through the game as quickly as possible. Certain stages also end with some sort of flying section; some of them are horizontal or vertical-scrolling bullet-hell style where you have infinite jetpack fuel, while others give you a hang glider where you can gain altitude by using the jetpack. The infinite fuel stages are fine if sometimes annoying, but the hang glider has controls that are frustratingly imprecise.
All downhill from here
As promising as the gameplay in Jet Kave Adventure seemed at first, it grew stale quickly. Not much new was introduced after the first few stages that shook up the gameplay, and I didn’t find the level design was interesting enough to keep me invested. The game got progressively more difficult throughout, but that didn’t help with the general lack of variety. Even the bosses aren’t much to write about; they just repeat the same thing, you hit them when they start glowing red, and then they do it again while maybe adding another attack to their pattern.
Each of the 36 stages feels somewhat short, only lasting a few minutes even progressing through them fairly slowly and looking for secrets, with the whole game done in just a few hours. Unfortunately, the brevity didn’t do much to keep things interesting, mainly due to all the levels seeming like the same things over and over again, even from one world to the next. There are a handful of interesting stages, such as one where your jetpack is taken away and you have no choice but to escape the hazards by moving forward as quickly as possible. It’s similar to the handful of chase segments, where you must keep going forward to avoid being caught by a mammoth, pterodactyl, or some other enemy, but still, even these stages don’t do much to break up the monotony of the gameplay. The repetition of the mediocre flying and gliding segments didn’t help much, either.
Don’t come fly with me
Jet Kave Adventure did not impress me. It’s competently made with fairly solid gameplay, but the level design is bland and repetitive, and there’s a distinct air of cheapness to the cut-scenes and graphics. There are plenty of other options on Switch if you want a solid side-scrolling platformer, and unless the premise of a caveman using a jetpack and fighting dinosaurs and aliens is particularly appealing to you, I’d suggest you take your $20 elsewhere.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed); Publisher: 7Levels; Developer: 7Levels; Players: 1; Released: September 17, 2019; ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10+; MSRP: $19.99
Full Disclosure: This review is based on a Switch review copy of Jet Kave Adventure given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.