Platformers are in. The past few years have seen a rebirth of the genre with Dead Cells, Ori and The Blind Forest and Hollow Knight to name just a few. These games are a little more sophisticated and in-depth than some of the more classic platformers. But what if you’re looking for a platformer that’s shiny and new, but still has that ’90s feel? When I started up Bloo Kid 2 on my Switch, I was bombarded with a handful of memories from elementary school. The retro graphics and chiptune music took me back to afternoons where I’d stolen my older brother’s Super Mario World GameBoy cartridge and tried to beat my previous record. Bloo Kid 2 is throwback to early platform games – there’s certainly nothing innovative or unique here, but it’s not overly derivative and it’s a fun way to spend a few hours.
Bloo Kid 2 was originally a mobile game released on iOS and Android back in early 2014 by Winterworld, an independent one-man video game development company run by Jörg Winterstein. A few short months after its mobile release, Bloo Kid 2 came to Steam with more content for desktop gamers. Now, 5 years after its original development, Bloo Kid 2 is on Switch, which is exactly where it belongs. I played most of Bloo Kid 2 in the Switch’s handheld mode and it felt just like playing games on an original GameBoy, just with clearer graphics and sharper controls.
The original game in the series was a simple platformer where the titular character jumps and fights his way through multiple levels to save his girlfriend, Pink Girl. In Bloo Kid 2, our eponymous hero and Pink Girl are happily enjoying a picnic with their newborn baby, Pink Kid, when a gargoyle-esque monster swoops down from the sky, snatches up the baby, and flies away. It’s up to Bloo Kid to save the day. You control Bloo Kid by moving forward and jumping to kill enemies and reach new areas. Each level has a set of missions that you can complete, such as ending the level with full health, collecting all of the gold stars scattered throughout the map, finding the 3 hidden blue stars, finishing the level under a specific time limit, to name a few. I don’t think that it is possible to complete all the challenges in one go unless you’re a master speedrunner, as most of the time limits are only 1:30 or so, while collecting all of the stars can take at least 5 minutes. The challenges do give some replayability, which is nice in this inexpensive game.
What a Bloo-tiful World
There are 5 different areas in Bloo Kid 2—each has 7 to 10 individual levels as well as a handful of bonus levels that can be unlocked after you have found enough items. There isn’t a lot of differentiation between areas—if it wasn’t for the final boss fight of each area, I might not have realized that I had moved on to a new set of levels. Part of this is due to Bloo Kid 2’s continual use of the same enemies. As the levels progress, you get new enemies to jump on, but the enemies from the first levels are still there as well. This ends up feeling like one long area that stretches on and on until you reach the fourth set of levels, which is ice themed. Here, at the very least, all of the original enemies are wearing ear muffs.
The bosses are a little more exciting. While the first one is a blustery tree that is defeated by throwing apples in its face—which, by the way, was the only thing in the game that felt like a blatant rip-off, as the boss looks exactly like Whispy Woods from Kirby’s Dream Land—the other areas have interesting final fights to close out that specific chapter. The “Zombieland” area had a werewolf boss that was particularly fun to fight due to there being a very precise moment that you could damage the wolf and not take damage yourself.
Overall, Bloo Kid 2’s sense of difficulty felt a little off. Levels were either a walk in the park, with barely any enemies to worry about, or frustratingly difficult, with enemies, spikes, moving platforms and challenging platforms that couldn’t be reached without a perfectly timed double jump. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy difficult platformers, but Bloo Kid 2 doesn’t give off the impression of wanting to be a difficult game. The mine cart levels in the ice area was the worst offender. These levels are different from anything you see earlier: jump into a mine cart and it automatically moves forward. You cannot stand on the tracks and you have to jump from cart to cart to be able to make it to the end of the level. It’s very fast, very stressful and some of the jumps are nigh impossible. At one particular point there are four tracks on top of each other, each with their own cart moving forward, and you have to navigate back and forth to make it to the end of the level. I kept getting frustrated and going back to earlier levels to complete more challenges and unlock bonus levels instead of trying to do the 4-cart shuffle for the -nth time.
Thankfully, the controls for Bloo Kid 2 are easy enough. The movement and jumps are crisp and smooth, even if the terrain made certain actions difficult. In terms of mechanics, there was only one that I wasn’t sold on – enemy projectiles. There are a variety of different enemies that shoot projectiles at Bloo Kid, and it’s seemingly random as to whether or not you can jump on the projectile to “kill” it. Giant snowballs shoot out of cannons in the ice area, and when you jump on them, the snowballs dissolve. In the first area, though, there are little green frogs that shoot rocks out of their mouths, and if you try to jump on them you’ll take damage.
Much like the difficulty level, there seemed to be conflicting decisions on how to implement the projectile mechanics. On the other hand, one of the best mechanics of the game is the halfway checkpoint. Halfway through every level, there is a green star that you can touch. Once activated, if you die, you start at the checkpoint, rather than at the beginning. For the mine cart levels in particular, this was insanely helpful.
Despite my nitpicking, I really did enjoy Bloo Kid 2. It was easy to understand, even if some of the levels gave me grief. The pixel graphics and funky music put a smile on my face while I was playing and exploring the maps to complete each challenge was something nice to do while curled up on the couch. Bloo Kid 2 doesn’t add anything new to the genre like Cuphead or Celeste did but that’s okay. Sometimes all you need is something simple and easy to spend a few hours on the Switch while watching TV in the background. If you miss the simple platformers of your childhood but don’t want to go to the trouble of tracking down or buying an old GameBoy or SNES, Bloo Kid 2 will satisfy that retro itch within your soul. For under $5, it’s worth playing if you ever miss the early days of playing with Mario, Kirby, Alex Kidd or Mega Man.
Sam reviewed Bloo Kid 2 on the Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by PR. The game is also available on Steam and mobile devices.