The Videokid: 80s Edition (Switch eShop) Review
Do you love the classic game, Paperboy? Do you love VHS tapes? How about pop culture references from the 80s and 90s? Well, I have the game for you. Meet VideoKid, the deliverer of VHS tapes to the people. How do you get them to their destination? You hurl the tapes at people’s letterboxes, like every diligent delivery person. At the beginning of the game, you start off talking to your girlfriend Jessica who lives up the street. But it’s not as simple as showing up, you have tapes to deliver. Too cool to deliver newspapers on a bike, this Marty McFly lookalike has a bag filled with VHS tapes (no Betamax options here) to hurl across the neighbourhood while doing ‘gnarly tricks’ on his skateboard.
Initially, it comes across as looking quite similar to mobile games like Crossy Road, using voxels to give everything a distinct blocky look. The VideoKid is the plainest looking thing in this game. When it comes to the pop culture cameos throughout, they manage to give plenty of detail so there’s no mistaking who the character is meant to be. It turns out the cameos are one of the main drawcards to The VideoKid. The voxel versions of characters from a lot of people’s childhoods are there: Alvin and the Chipmunks, Roger Rabbit & Eddie Valiant, TMNT, Transformers, The Terminator and just a who’s who from that era. You’ll feel pretty chuffed when you spot some of the less obvious cameos and undoubtedly shower them in VHS tapes.
While The VideoKid draws a lot of inspiration from Paperboy, it is thankfully in an easier and more streamlined way. You’re still delivering to letterboxes, but you only have three lanes to swap between as you make your way across the blocks to meet with Jessica. Instead of making post runs across several days with changing subscribers, in VideoKid you don’t need to be careful with where you chuck the tapes. You can safely chuck them around and hit everything to help fill the letterboxes, and it only really impacts how much money you get for upgrades. Now for upgrades, you can unlock a bunch of different skins for the VideoKid, all of them slightly off-brand characters from the 80s. It’s cool to be able to unlock the Cookie Monster, Arnie and She-Ra, unfortunately, they don’t add much to the game. Along with different skins, you can also unlock more skating tricks which once again never really did much unless you’re all in on getting the best score. It’s good to have things to unlock, it’s just a shame none of it breathes new life into the game.
One of my biggest struggles with this game was the collision detection. Way too often I found myself getting wiped out by changing lanes when I thought I was safely out of the way from an obstacle. I also often found when an obstacle looks like you can jump over it or jump trick to it, only to be knocked down. On top of that, there’s plenty of obstacles that can suddenly get in the way in a crowded spot or big moving obstacles that are hard to judge where they’re going to be to avoid them.
At first, along with the other frustrations usually brought about by out of nowhere obstacles or cameos suddenly getting in the way, it wound up often with me being knocked over and having to start again. But before you can start again, the game goes through an end-of-run screen that shows you how close you were to meeting Jessica, your score, money collected, and how many tapes you delivered. This was maddening as it is too long. When you just want to jump back into the game for a better run, you’re met with reminders of what you can buy in the store, or even being taken to the store. This might not be so bad once you’ve had an hour or so playing the game, but at the beginning you can’t afford most things so it doesn’t make sense why the game is telling you to buy things you can’t and extending the wait time even longer before you’re off and skating again. It might seem a bit of a nitpick, but in a game like this, it should be quick to get back into. A quick restart option would’ve made a world of difference to encourage that ‘one more run’ feeling.
When throwing newspapers at letterboxes back in Paperboy you had to be careful of making sure you got the mail to the right person and mess up the properties of non subscribers. In VideoKid it turns out even with subscribers, it doesn’t really matter. Hammering down on the deliver button sends out a steady stream of tapes hitting everything in its path. It’s a surefire way to ensure the majority make it to the letterboxes, but even then characters can just walk in front of them and ruin a perfect streak. The best use of the video tapes is barraging icons from the 80/90s with them. It even gives you points for doing it so there’s no reason to not throw tapes.
The VideoKid doesn’t pretend to be anything grander than what it is, a different take on the Paperboy formula with a 80/90s pop culture theme. It improves along the original formula and makes it more playable in this day and age. It really is a game that is best in short bursts. It is quite shallow and when you buy all the tricks and characters within, there is only score to try and beat. If you’re after a cheap arcadey run based game that embraces the pop culture a lot of us grew up with, then there isn’t much to lose here.
- Good price
- Neat pop culture cameos
- A new take on Paperboy
- Collision Detection
- Too much waiting between runs