Originally developed for mobile platforms, Bloo Kid 2 was well received back in 2014; indie developer 'winterworks' delivered a solid 2D platformer with responsive touchscreen controls. Although still a decent choice for the discerning mobile user, Bloo Kid 2 clearly becomes a much tougher proposition on the Nintendo 3DS eShop; now sitting alongside many of the games it very clearly takes inspiration from, is it good enough to warrant your time and hard-earned cash?
Initial impressions aren't too encouraging – the title screen logo looks like it's been drawn by a young child and the main character is instantly forgettable. From the beginning, only the first of five worlds (chapters) is unlocked, the remainder open up in a linear order as you make progress. There are nine stages per chapter; the fourth and eighth stages of each are roughly equivalent to Mario's castle stages, with the final ninth level always being a boss stage to overcome.
Thankfully as soon as the title screen is passed, things begin to look up. Even though the artwork is hugely derivative, it's beautifully drawn in a lovely retro pixel style; a plethora of bright colours and contrasting background artwork helps the foreground elements to really pop out. The stereoscopic 3D effect is mostly well done and contains a decent amount of depth, although it does suffer a little bit from the paper cut-out effect that's seemingly unavoidable in 2D games such as this.
Bloo Kid 2 contains a slew of blatant plagiarism of various genre classics, with the list of inspiration from past games being almost endless. Everything in sight is seemingly pulled from elsewhere; there's even a mine cart level chucked in for good measure. Ever played Sonic the Hedgehog? How about Alex Kidd or Mario? You'll not find any surprises here. The worlds are all themed pretty obviously too, from the starting 'Green Hills' zone (yes, really) through to a desert theme and an ice theme - it's all so far so yawn, especially if you've trod the platform path throughout the years.
However, if you are able to accept that Bloo Kid 2 has practically no ideas of its own, it's possible to switch your brain from dismissal to a weird enjoyment through spotting all the obvious gaming references contained within. This is an important step to accepting what's on offer here - a willingness to embrace the lack of originality. Is it paying homage or simply a rip-off? Only you can make that decision.
The actual gameplay is solid. Bloo Kid is responsive and there's a pleasingly weighty and chunky feeling to the physics. Blessed with a double jump, it soon becomes second nature hopping from platform to platform and bouncing off every enemy in sight. The developer has made an odd choice by not allowing use of the Circle Pad at all – you HAVE to use the D-Pad to control Bloo Kid, so be wary if that's not usually a comfortable option for you. All in all though, it plays great.
The pacing and structure is equally well done, even if it's painting by numbers. As stages progress, new enemies are introduced, with some employing attack patterns that must be learned in order to effectively avoid or defeat them. The learning curve is spot on and while it's not the hardest game ever made, it's no push-over either. Bloo Kid can take four hits before a life is lost, which seems fairly lenient to begin with, but towards the end of the game you'll be thankful of the extra hearts to be found inside various chests dotted around the stages.
The stages themselves are cleverly designed, scrolling from left to right with some climbing and descending now and again; each is also filled to bursting with enemies, collectibles and hazards. You'll never get lost, but there's a touch of off-the-beaten-track exploration to be had if aiming to 100% the entire game.
Each stage has a number of objectives to aim for, be it collecting all the stars, finding three special blue stars (usually hidden) or defeating all the enemies. These objectives will generally take you a couple of tries per stage, which serves to artificially extend the length of the game. The most difficult is beating each stage's time target, but also arguably the most fun. Charging through the harder levels with barely a pause for breath requires skilful dexterity and some layout memorisation.
Additionally, if you happen to have a love of old school style chip-tunes, Bloo Kid 2 delivers. There are plenty of catchy ditties reminiscent of the good old days; in particular listen out for nostalgically familiar C64 Sid Chip style sounds splodging amongst the soundtrack. Almost brings a tear to the eye.
And that's kind of it – there's nothing ground-breaking here, just a solid, colourful platformer with spot-on controls and challenges should you choose to take them on. It's also cheap and cheerful, so if you're pining for a new platform game to keep you busy for a few hours, you'd do well to consider Bloo Kid 2. Yes, it's unoriginal, but Bloo Kid always has a smile on his face while jumping on those generic enemies and at least the inspiration is coming from the right places. Give him a chance, he's trying his best.