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The Videokid

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide
Developer: Pixel Trip Studios
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2018

About Joseph Doyle

Joe has been known to have two hands with which to both play games and write reviews. When his hands are not doing those, he will put books, musical instruments, and other fun things in them.

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PS4 Review - 'The Videokid'

by Joseph Doyle on Jan. 25, 2019 @ 12:45 a.m. PST

The Videokid is a Paperboy-inspired arcade action game, bursting with personality, delightful nods and satisfying challenges.

When people recognize strong similarities between different video game properties, they generally turn to the phrase, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," painting the other as an homage or even an improvement. We've seen this time and time again in the gaming industry, with people who swear that Crash Team Racing or Diddy Kong Racing is as good or better than Mario Kart 64. Harmonix was praised for taking its Guitar Hero formula and expanding it to a full band experience with Rock Band. Metroid and Castlevania's gameplay and styles are so synonymous that the genre has been labeled "Metroidvania" for games that copy the formula, such as Cave Story and Guacamelee.

The VideoKid, an arcade game by PixelTrip Studios, follows in this vein with its modernized treatment of the Atari game, Paperboy. While some games that do this are soulless copies of their inspiration, The VideoKid makes strides to modernize the formula, ironically steeped in '80s references. While the game is fun and exciting, some of the changes made by PixelTrip end up being to the title's detriment.


The premise of The VideoKid is a simple one, and that's all it needs to be. It's the '80s, and you (a Marty McFly look-alike) need money for your date with Jessica, so you have to deliver VHS tapes to the correct houses and reach the end of the level. Along the way, you gain points and money by hitting the correct mailboxes, destroying property, and landing jumps on cars, mailboxes, and more. Hit anything in your way, and the game's over. This seems simple enough, but PixelTrip filled the level with cars and tons of '80s references. You ride the mean streets of a generic suburb swerving and jumping over the likes of He-Man, KITT from "Knight Rider," Roger Rabbit, and more.

With the money you collect, you can buy skateboard tricks and new skins like the Joker, Teen Wolf, and more. It's incredibly cool to see all these references in one game, and while it can sometimes be overwhelming and distracted, this adds to the mayhem that the game offers. The mad dash to dodge and deliver is a fun blend of speed and accuracy, and it brings the idea of Paperboy into the modern era. It's also inexplicably cathartic to bean Alvin and the Chipmunks, the California Raisins, and the Care Bears with VHS tapes (and scoring points from doing so).

The faults of The VideoKid, however, come out of the gate, with a tutorial that is lightning fast and tough to grasp. While this introduction tries to match the pace of the game and the controls are rather simple, it feels like cramming for a test rather than an organized approach to the game. This is a relatively small grievance in the scheme of things, but the gameplay also falters from a design standpoint.

The game design digresses from its progenitor, making the title less fluid and turning to the likes of Temple Rush with its lane style of progression. This simplifies the game to a large degree but also limits itself in ways that PixelTrip may not have anticipated. Since the game is presented in an isometric perspective (a roughly 20-degree clockwise rotation), the right-most lane has the least visibility and leaves the player significantly more vulnerable to vehicles. This chops off a significant 33% of viable play space, and it works against the gameplay.


Speaking of digressions from the original, The VideoKid does away with any sort of inventory, allowing the player to hurl tapes indiscriminately — another change meant to simplify but detracts from the satisfaction of accuracy. Additionally, the game sometimes gets a little glitchy and awards points for jumping on a car while you simultaneously crash and end your run. None of these issues ruin the game, but they take away from the overall experience.

As far as aesthetics go, The VideoKid embraces bright colors and hard lines to solidify the '80s parallels, but PixelTrip brings the game into the third dimension. This borrows from the visuals in Minecraft and almost steals from the app game, Crossy Road. All of the iconic '80s characters are re-created and work well in this style.

Music is almost imperceptible due to the high volume of the sound effects (in both amplitude and amount). While it's fun to hear the whirl of a spinning VHS tape, the collecting of coins on the street, and the Lethal Weapon characters running down a street with guns blazing, they're all crammed into the sound at the same time and mask the game soundtrack. When you can hear the music, it's a solid, driving chiptune piece that keeps the pace and fun, but this isn't often. The sound effects are cartoony, fun, and add a lot to the experience. It's fulfilling to hear a house window shattering or Lucy (of "Peanuts" fame) yelp when decked by a VHS tape. Overall, both the music and visuals of The VideoKid don't add anything new or exciting, but the sound effects make the player feel the chaos of destroying a neighborhood, a much milder version of the glee from the murderous rampages in Grand Theft Auto.


Something that must be accounted for in this review is the intention of the game. The VideoKid is a single-level arcade title (with some variance in layout, but I digress) that has been simplified to a rail runner, and it rests its laurels on the same encounters each time. Another weird aspect of the game is not the ability to buy different costumes with in-game currency, but also the game consistently pushing you to do so. After the game is complete, your money is tallied up, and you can go to the store and buy cosmetics. Sometimes, there are literally pop-up ads pushing you to buy the different costumes, which feels odd ... unless the title is attempting to be an app game.

The VideoKid feels strange to play on a console, but it seems right at home for 5-10 minutes while waiting at the doctor's office or riding the metro. While this doesn't detract from the game itself, the presentation and experience feel a touch peculiar, especially on a PlayStation 4.

The VideoKid takes the idea of nostalgia and runs (or skateboards) with it. Not only does it use the likes of Baywatch, Bill & Ted, and Fraggle Rock to grab the attention of potential players, but also tops it off as a speedy homage to a classic Atari game. As far as planning goes, it's intriguing. It's fun to throw VHS tapes and jump over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the presentation and design don't hold up. With a single level that becomes repetitive after a few hours, gameplay changes that are prohibitive or distracting, and the overall feel of an app game on a console, the quality of The VideoKid is slightly above average. It doesn't feel like a game I'd boot up my console to play, but it feels like something I'd play while another title is downloading.

Score: 6.0/10


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