Anyone who played video games during the eighties will know that there were no shortage of classics to choose from. One of those is a game called Paperboy, where your goal was simply to deliver newspapers while avoiding all the crazy obstacles in your way. Paperboy was incredibly addictive for its time and allowed you to either play as carefully as possible or go wild and cause wanton property destruction. Even if you are not familiar with Paperboy, the developers of THE VIDEOKID certainly are, as it is one of the finest homages to the Atari Games classic that we have ever seen.
Unlike the bicycle riding newspaper delivery boy in Paperboy, THE VIDEOKID puts you in the sneakers of a character who prefers cruising around on his skateboard. Delivering newspapers is not exactly cool either, so instead Videokid is delivering pirated VHS tapes to his customers. His aim is to deliver these tapes to all the right houses while dodging the insane amount of obstacles in his way. Get it right and you will find his girlfriend, Jessica, waiting for him in the park at the end of his run. Since his route is relatively straightforward, this is not something that would ordinarily take more than a few minutes, but the ‘80s neighborhood of THE VIDEOKID is anything but ordinary.
Chaotic doesn’t even begin to describe your surroundings when playing THE VIDEOKID. The game is viewed from an isometric perspective, which means you get a good view of everything trying to get in your view. In addition to dodging traffic, such as bikes, cars, trucks and even trains, the developers have gone overboard with the ‘80s pop culture references, so if you fondly remember this era, then you are in for a treat. We don’t want to give away too many of the surprises as spotting everything is half the fun, but you can expect to run into everything from Pac-Man and Rambo to Scooby Doo, Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and many, many more. There were more than a few times where we crashed into something simply because we were checking out the cameos instead of paying attention to where we were going.
Although the developers obviously don’t have permission to use any of the characters that show up in the streets, they have managed to get away with it by using voxel art for the visuals. This means that the game has that proper “retro” look and all the characters are immediately recognizable, but not similar enough to cause any copyright issues. As children of the ‘80s, we couldn’t help, but play this game with a big goofy grin on our faces and it really presses all the nostalgia buttons.
The only thing you need to worry about in THE VIDEOKID is staying alive long enough to reach your girlfriend, Jessica. However, picking up the coins that litter the road along the way will provide you with some much needed cash for unlocking new characters. These characters once again skirts very close to copyright infringement, but who doesn’t want to skate around as Marty McFly, the Joker, Arnie, or even She-Ra! If you want to end your run with a good score, then you are also going to have to deliver those video tapes by throwing them into the red post boxes of your clients. Of course, since you have an unlimited amount of tapes, they also make for handy projectiles to break just about everything in sight too. In the original Paper Boy you could get in trouble for causing to much property damage, but in THE VIDEOKID it is encouraged. The fact that you can’t run out of video tapes means that you can easily abuse them and just throw a never-ending barrage of tapes to rake in the points.
In terms of gameplay, THE VIDEOKID feels like an endless runner, apart from the fact that it does actually have an end. Levels scroll automatically while you move around between three lanes trying to dodge obstacles. The controls are very tight, but THE VIDEOKID is also quite an unforgiving game. This is understandable, seeing as there is only one level and it is actually very short, but it only takes one hit to send you straight back to the start. With now health or checkpoints to fall back on, the game can get quite tense and reaching the end feels like a real accomplishment. This is a game where you will die a lot before mastering it, but thankfully there are some randomized elements to ensure each run isn’t completely the same. The mailboxes seem to stay in the same spots, but the types of obstacles and character cameos along the way tend to differ with each run.
THE VIDEOKID is a game that sounds just as chaotic as it looks. Along with a nice 8bit soundtrack by DJ Savant, it is also packed to the brim with sound effects. Just about every character you see in the game will be accompanied by their theme song or catch phrase. Thanks to the sheer amount of characters and the frequency at which they appear it means that there will never be a moment of silence in the game. Strangely enough, the game allows you to disable the music, but not the sound effects. The game can be played with either a keyboard or controller, but we found that using a keyboard worked best for us. Apart from pressing left and right to change lanes, you have to press up to jump and the space bar to throw your tapes. The game only features three different power-ups, one of which is a power glove that causes your character to automatically throw a barrage of tapes for a short period of time.
There is no denying that THE VIDEOKID is a really addictive game, but it is not without its flaws. Despite the randomized elements, it is a very short game and it only takes a few runs before you have seen everything. The unlockable costumes and Steam Achievements provide some further motivation for coming back, though. The trick system, that allows you to grind benches, mailboxes and certain cars, is a neat touch, but unlocking new tricks only changes the look of these animations and not much more. Finally, the text that pops up when you successfully deposit a tape in a mailbox have a nasty tendency of obscuring your view, which can be very distracting. Despite all of these gripes, the game remains supremely enjoyable and its price is also low enough that we can’t complain too much about the short length as it still offers more than enough value for money. If you are not a fan of Paperboy or the ‘80s, then there’s probably nothing for you here, but if you are, then you are in for a treat.
- OS: Windows 7/8/10
- Processor: Intel Core i3
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: nVidia GTX 480 / AMD Radeon 7870
- Storage: 300 MB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX compatible