10th Jul2018

Digital Shorts: ‘Miles & Kilo’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Rupert Harvey

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Miles & Kilo, a new 80s-esque platformer now available on the Nintendo Switch.

miles-kilo-switch

If you’re not quite ready to dive into the brutal labyrinth of Hollow Knight, you could do worse than try out this far more linear though no less hardcore platformer, from Michael Burns.

Burns is the brilliant sadist behind mobile autorunner Kid Tripp, itself an ode to the platforming golden age of the late-‘80s Master System era. While not fully bringing us into the 16-bit age, Miles & Kilo zooms out and cleans up the aesthetic, so it now resembles games like Alex Kidd in Miracle World or Psycho Fox.

Compared to its predecessor, Miles & Kilo is the more compromising and accessible experience, ditching the limited lives mechanic, and restricting the autorun sections to certain special levels – sweetly, they involve the ever-eager Kilo the dog dragging you along by his leash. But you’ll spend most of your time controlling Miles, and your overarching purpose is to get through five worlds packed with devilish levels to retrieve parts of your plane, in order to get home. Your nemesis is a ghostly wizard named Ripple. That’s pretty much it, with any storytelling wrapped up in a few amusing lines at the start and end of each world.

The worlds are standard fare: jungle, beach, volcano etc. There isn’t a great deal of variety between enemies (and many from Kid Tripp are reused), but the level design is tight and fluid, and rarely is your progress blocked by cheap deaths. And at 20-40 seconds a pop, with instant restarts and infinite lives, frustration is unlikely to set in. Until you meet Ripple himself, perhaps. Good luck with that.

It might appear twee, but this is a fearsomely challenging experience, which relies as much on memorising the layout and rhythm of levels as it does twitch reactions. Mercifully, it is possible to make it through most levels at a slow, careful pace, which better accommodates a broad spectrum of players. At the other end of the scale will be the speedrunners, for whom this game was undoubtedly created. But you will need to “git gud” sometime, because later on there are levels which demand constant momentum.

Miles & Kilo is a solid and uncomplicated game, which, while never threatening to dethrone the likes of Celeste or Super Meat Boy in the hardcore platforming pantheon, at least earns itself a place at their table. At two-to-three hours tops, and suffering a small but unwelcome Switch tax compared with Steam, the only question is value. If you’re a one-and-done player, perhaps it’s not for you. But if you’re a score-chaser then nailing grade As on every level is surely a tempting proposition, and a hugely enjoyable one to boot.

Miles & Kilo is out now on Nintendo Switch.

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