It’s easy to say that the genre of platforming has spawned some of the most iconic titles over the generations of our gaming lives; and still continues to do so today. For me though, it’s never been a particular go-to genre, as I’ve always felt that many platformers fall from the precipice of investment; their playability jumping overboard long before my own personal quest to finish them. That’s not to say I hate them, or that they need to bring anything particularly new to the table. I’m sure you’ll agree that what platformers need is a variance in what they bring. For instance, one minute you jump and run, the next your flying or hurtling down a mine, then you’re vertical, then horizontal again, before coming across that secret area the fills you with wonder. If you look closely at some of the most successful platformers within gaming, they all contain all the above ingredients in some shape or form. It’s this premise that caused 7Levels’ Jet Kave Adventure to catch my eye, as it propels a release, exclusively, on the Nintendo Switch.
You play the role of Kave, a Neanderthal from the prehistoric era, who has been exiled from his position of Chief Honcho within his village. Just as he is about to be booted off a ledge into oblivion, an unidentified flying object, or UFO, crash lands nearby. As Kave goes to investigate, an alien being emerges from the wreckage and sets about finding a new power source in order to fuel his crashed craft. Being prehistoric times, the only viable power source lies within the natural power of a distant volcano. As the alien jetpacks towards the volcano, our hapless hero, Kave, comes across another, spare, jetpack. Realising the intentions of the Alien being and the catastrophic consequences to his homeland from its actions, Kave sets off in pursuit in order to save the village and redeem himself from exile.
Right from the word go, this is a platform game that will look and feel very familiar to anyone who has played through Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country. Not because it’s a carbon copy, but because as Kave, you can run on all fours to pass through gaps, use your club to vanquish foes and journey through all manner of lush locations in a variety of ways. The controls too, feel as tight as they do in Nintendo’s title, giving you an unprecedented level of control and last, but not least, the visual fidelity and variety in gameplay makes this, very much, a cheaper alternative to our favourite ape; whilst retaining a similar level of gameplay.
This is largely due to the inclusion of the jet pack mechanic; something that you find after the game’s introductory level. It adds an extra dimension to movement; allowing you to thrust to out-of-reach places and propel yourself in a variety of angles to reach certain levels, knock down impassable areas or escape from the clutches of a chasing dinosaur. However, the jetpack only contains a limited thrust and amount of fuel; although its thrust recharges almost immediately after landing and fuel is never in short supply. As you progress through the game, further abilities become usable that changes the way you play, from vertical levels to chasms that need to be traversed as you hover through them.
The prehistoric world in which you play takes you through four distinct themes, each one split into nine chapters, giving you a total of thirty-six levels to play through. Each of the levels have been designed to make the most of every possible move available to you, making them fun to explore and traverse through; as well as housing all manner of secret areas that really require you to search thoroughly in order to find them. They also look fantastic, with highly detailed and colourful environments. There are also all manner of hazards to avoid, from thick brambles to falling stalactites and all manner of prehistoric beasts. Armed with a trusty club, you can take care of most hazards with a timely swipe, although others need to be avoided with a simple jump or escaped from by running, or flying, through the level as quickly as you can.
Although the game contains a lot of variety within movement and level terrains, it does feel that the game reveals too much too soon, as once you begin to reach the latter stages, it seems to run out of new ideas and you simply end up just running-the-mill through a level design of rinse-and-repeat. Not that this really detracts from the overall fun of the game, but its lack if invention towards the end-game does feel noticeable. However, these levels are still nicely broken up with a series of chase, gliding and vertical stages to mix things up from the normal mechanics of simple platforming. The game’s health and checkpoint systems are, thankfully, quite generous. Lives are determined by a number of hearts that can be refilled by eating snacks found along the way, as well a series of checkpoints immediately refilling all of your hearts and saving your mid-level progress.
All of the game’s mechanics, from the jetpack to movement and the club to health can be upgraded through the collection of seeds that line each of the levels. From an in-game store, you can purchase these upgrades with your banked seeds; which in turn creates more of a flow to the game with an increased level of ease to the challenge of the levels. In order to provide a more long-term appeal, each of the levels also comes with a series of bonus objectives that can be attempted after their completion or with purchased upgrades. These include speed runs and completing the level without losing any lives. There’s no real incentive for completing these extra challenges, but it does add an extra layer of replay value.
If there’s one real disappointment with the game, then it has to be its series of rather lacklustre boss battle. Whatever boss you face, the mechanics in how you defeat them usually remains the same; hit them three times when they have been dazed. There’s no real challenge here and, after a while, become a bit of a chore really. In all honesty, the levels where you are chased by dinosaurs or glide through laser-filled caverns offer more a challenge and an exciting level of gameplay. It’s only a small gripe though and in terms of the overall game, is nothing more than a mere blip. In terms of performance, the game runs super smoothly and looks fantastic whether you play the Switch docked or in handheld. During my time with the game, I never came across any apparent bugs or strange behaviour within any of the game’s elements.
Overall, Jet Kave Adventure provides a satisfying experience for fans of platformers. It contains a nice old-school feel to it and bears a striking resemblance to Donkey Kong Country in terms of its gameplay values; making this a game that offers superb value for money. It’s not the longest game in history, probably offering around six to eight hours of entertainment for the average player, but its fun mechanics, variety of gameplay, upgrade systems and bonus objectives do provide a fun game throughout its duration. Apart from a couple of minor faults, this really is a great game to play through, although despite being a lot of fun, is quite a safe game in terms of how it plays and what it offers. It’s fun, but not ground-breaking, but then again, it’s not prehistoric either.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Jet Kave Adventure Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
Jet Kave Adventure offers a prehistoric adventure with a mammoth amount of fun and playability.