Despite an aversion for auto-runners, I found Kid Tripp enjoyable, if on the short side.
So… Kid Tripp is an auto-runner. Let’s just take a minute to explain why that means it’s auto-terrible because auto-runners are terrible and that’s that. Here’s why auto-runners are terrible: they’re negative. The entire joy of gaming stems from the ability to control what’s happening on the screen. Auto-runners take that and say “yeah, but let’s just take a bit of that control away” and expect us to be grateful for it.
For me, then, Kid Tripp is fighting an uphill battle — it needs to convince me to like a genre I really don’t think I do. A genre that Nintendo couldn’t convince me to like.
Kid Tripp is a game utterly without pretension, and that gives it a reasonable minimum ‘score’ alone. It never really pretends to be anything more than it is, so it's difficult to be too down on it. Take its plot, for example:
Kid Tripp has crashed on a mysterious island and now the local wildlife is out to ruin his day.
That’s literally it. It must be said, though, that said wildlife includes why-are-they-harmful frogs(?), cute little bunny rabbits, and owls. Owls, for f***’s sake — why am I being asked to shoot an owl in the face?! Couldn’t they have come up with some slightly more actually dangerous wildlife than this?
We all know how this type of game works, and it has nothing to do with any story: move left to right, jump on platforms, avoid / jump on / shoot enemies, don’t fall down. The tutorial does a great job of explaining all there is to know about the game in 30 seconds.
There are just two main controls: shoot and jump, but jumping can be done to different heights. There’s also a ‘walk’ button which I never used: who walks when you can run?! It’s like braking in an arcade racing game: totally boring and unnecessary.
Whilst we’re talking controls, I need to address something: the default controls suck. You might not realise they suck until you try customising them, then realise you can do a whole lot better. With just two controls, you don’t need to leave them as A and B — that makes no sense. You want to give yourself the best chance you can of hitting either control at a split-second’s notice, so use one hand per control, for the love of gaming.
Although you can customise the controls, you don’t get full control: the only button you get from the left side is the UP arrow. Still, it’s as good as any other: assign it to jump, and at least have it as an option.
You’ll encounter a plethora of aforementioned cute creatures as you race through each level of Kid Tripp, and it’s genuinely not easy to know if you should shoot each one or jump on its head — either course of action could have different side-effects — and there, of course, lies a lot of the challenge. For example, you might shoot a snake, only to find out half a second later that you needed to be able to jump on it to clear a gap. Some enemies simply cannot be killed by jumping on them, so you need to recognise these, remember that fact in an instant, and take evasive action. So muscle memory and trial-and-error are key components of the gameplay.
Another key challenge involves landing (on an enemy, a spring, etc.), then timing another jump just right, so as to jump higher. It's a tricky move to get perfectly right, but you'll need it a lot. The tutorial deals with it, but I never really managed to perfect the move, at least not for the first two worlds. I’m not sure whether that’s just me or an overly-sensitive control.
There are only 20 levels, divided into 4 worlds, but whilst the first 2 worlds are rather easy, the difficulty ramps up from there, and the later levels are genuinely challenging. Each level is only about 20 seconds long, so you could complete the entire game in about 7 minutes, in theory. In practice, you'll almost certainly be playing several of these levels many tens of times over. Thankfully, you're given 10 lives, restarts are almost instantaneous, and continues are infinite. This helps give the whole affair an arcade feel — I think that’s a more positive description rather than calling this a ‘mobile’ game!
Graphics? Big blocky ‘pixels’ and the use of strong colours gives the game a very Amiga-like feel as far as I’m concerned. They also help the sense that this is an arcade experience.
So, how did I end up feeling about the auto-runner genre, now? To be honest, it’s still not one I’ll actively seek out, but Kid Tripp has convinced me it can produce good games. Classic platforming skills are very much required here, and each level is designed perfectly well to test them. The ‘repeat/reward’ loop is tweaked just right so as to maintain interest in the challenge — this includes the overall difficulty curve which is perfectly paced, and the quick restarts which really encourage just-one-more-go play. The act of taking on a challenge, and refining skills until a run is finally successful, is a well-tested formula that’s successfully adhered to here.
I played & reviewed Kid Tripp as part of the #IndieSelect initiative spearheaded by @IndieGamerChick. It meant that I received a copy of the game for free, but this was only a saving of 71p in the event, and my interest was more focussed on the method of reviewing the game — playing it immediately and posting about it on social media — which served as a good preparation when it came to writing the actual review.
For such a short game, Kid Tripp packs in a lot of enjoyment, and is still excellent value for money. Replayability is there if you want to get even more worth for your money.
The gameplay is well-paced enough that you shouldn’t get bored of any repetition caused by the low number of controls. The challenges here are varied and increase nicely in difficulty. And there are various achievements to chase for those looking for even greater value.
I completed Kid Tripp in 3 hours, which is definitely shorter than I’d typically like. I’ve played some post-game content (trying to get all gold coins on each level) which certainly offers more gameplay, although I'm unsure whether I’ll really pursue it much further.
As mentioned above, I paid nothing for Kid Tripp, although it was on sale for just 71p at the time of receipt, and of writing. Its normal price is £3.59, which is maybe a little steep, if only in comparison to other games that are not much more expensive. A demo is available on US/EU Nintendo eshops.