It’s remarkable how easy it can be to see the effects of developers' genuine passion when playing a video game. In Kraino Origins—the product of one man, Angel Dorantes—you can just feel how much appreciation the dev has for classic retro platformers. Better yet, it turns out that he clearly understands what made the classics so great; Kraino Origins is a good time.
You take the role of the titular skeleton and are tasked with going through eight levels of spooky, scary action. Gameplay takes the shape of a typical retro action platformer, and Kraino is clearly inspired by many of the classics. There’s a little bit of Mega Man in here, a little more Castlevania, some Super Mario Bros. 3, but Kraino doesn’t feel overly derivative of such titles, largely because of its excellent level design. Each level is thematically distinct and introduces a few unique level gimmicks, such as conveyor belts or floating leaves, which are slowly built up into harder challenges over the course of the stage.
The tight mechanics and challenging level design thus make for a game that feels perfectly well-balanced; Kraino is definitely no pushover, but being persistent in learning stages and boss patterns is sure to lead to victory. And if you do happen to die, Kraino borrows Shovel Knight’s death system—a flying bag of gold is left at the spot where you died, and you can respawn at the last checkpoint and the bag disappears if you die again before getting to that point.
To help take the edge off the difficulty, there are permanent powerups concealed throughout each stage to expand your health and mana pools, plus a hidden merchant who can sell you a new sub-weapon to give you more versatility in dealing with enemies. If you want to really push yourself, every level also has a separate, shorter bonus stage with no checkpoints that really tests how well you understand and can handle the level gimmicks. If you manage to make it to the end, you’ll receive a magic skull used to upgrade one of your sub-weapons, netting you boons like the ability to shoot fireballs through walls or imbue your throwable axe with a freeze effect.
We were thoroughly impressed by the quality of Kraino’s gameplay, but the only drawback here is that the runtime may be a little too short for some. Completing all eight levels, plus the challenge levels, should only take you about three hours — five if you take it slow and find yourself dying a lot. Games don’t have to be long to be worthwhile, but those who insist upon more content may be disappointed.
As for its presentation, Kraino adheres to a simple 8-bit visual style that takes plenty of modern liberties. The color palettes are vibrant and the spritework is well done, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. The same could be said for the chiptune soundtrack, which provides a creepy and upbeat atmosphere, though it isn’t terribly memorable.
It may be over in the blink of an eye, but Kraino Origins proves itself to be a well-crafted and deeply enjoyable old-school action platformer while it lasts. If you’re looking for an affordable and brief entry in the genre, this is definitely one that we would recommend.
I know all reviews are subjective, but man do I love a bite sized game. The bloodstained retro platformers were a treat, looking forward to this one.
This looks absolutely excellent. Looks like a very similar visual style and many of the same influences as our first Hazel game (although ours is more a Metroidvania, in that there aren't levels, just a large open world).
I say that not in self promotion but as a complement because I specifically designed our game it to be like my "ultimate" platform game that young me would have adored... so that very much applies to this game too. It looks like something that could have easily been my "new favourite game" when buying it in the early to mid 90s. Similar to the excellent Shovel Knight but even closer to my personal ideal tastes for this kind of game
I'll 100% be buying this and supporting the dev. I know how hard it is to make a game by yourself (or in my case, a 2 person team) so to have such evident quality is wonderful. I've checked out some gameplay footage and its just a straight must buy. If a physical edition is available I'll happily double dip.
I'd much rather have such quality for "only a few hours" (most of my favourite retro games that I regularly come back to complete time and time again are less than 2 hours long) than an artificially inflated game that becomes too samey or becomes a chore to play. To me, if a short game is fun all the way through, I'll happily revisit it many times to try and improve my run or just experience it again
Congratulations again to the dev, this kind of thing is my bag, baby. Spot on.
Putting it on the wishlist! This looks as much influenced by Shovel Knight as the NES classics mentioned.
It looks like a top notch GBA game. Maybe AAA DS level. Will consider thanks for the heads-up.
9 score. It looks not that bad.
Looks remarkably similar to Shovel Knight, like it could be a spin off from that series. Not that that's a bad thing.
Considering how many games I'd like to play constantly come out this one being short is actually a joy for me, absolutely getting it when I can!
This peaks my interest. I'll be picking it up at some point.
Will be grabbing this once it goes onto a deep sale.
A little expensive for me considering the game length
An interesting 2D side-scroller, may pick it up during a sale like I did Shovel Knight for the 3DS.
I Kickstarted one of this guy's games but it failed to make its goal. Glad this one came to fruition, tho! Def gonna pick it up
Sounds great, the one item in the cons list is a pro for me! I'll definitely be grabbing this.
Nice review thanks, easy buy for me
A retro game, made by a single person, that gets good reviews??? It's like the good ol' days! Adding to my wishlist now. I'm always excited to support small developers with great ideas and true passion.
I can see the Shovel Knight influence others have mentioned. That's fine, and it's also different enough. It reminds me how Panzer Paladin(which I have played) and Cathedral(which I have not yet played) both also looked similar to varying degrees. This one sounds good and I'll have to make a note of it.
This looks original! zzz zzz zzz
After reading some of these comments, I was really surprised to see that the game is only $12 on the US eShop. I’ll be picking it up!
Seems too similar to Shovel Knight, honestly.
@BeefSanta That may have been the sequel to this! He went ahead and made the game anyway, it's called Kraino Reanimated and the game is a 16 but Metroidvania. I hope this does well enough that he ports that over too, I've heard good things.
"only a few hours long"
After a couple playthroughs, that's Metroid Dread. If the gameplay is engaging enough, replaying especially to speedrun won't be an issue.
Not bad, I'm still a fan of retro games and games that respect your time.
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