One of my goals this year is to play more games and extract some tips on good game design along the way. This is my tenth review in this series called “50 games”.
I randomly got a code for a Nintendo Switch game called “Kid Tripp” via twitter the other day as part of the #indieselect programme.
Kid Tripp is an infinite runner dude who can jump and throw rocks. The levels have collectable coins and of course rewards you with a gold medal if you collect them all. Interestingly enough you can also occasionally let the kid stay static by not jumping in front of a wall (unusual for infinite runners).
The game comes in beautiful minimalistic pixel art, and really looks like a NES-area game, and it made me wonder: were there no “infinite runner” style games back then? Of course, turns out there were, just not games I’d heard of (do “Jump Bug” and “Moon Patrol” ring a bell?) and also some platformers (including the previously reviewed Disney’s Aladdin for the SEGA Master System) had one or more infinite-running stages.
However it wasn’t really until 2009 and “Canabalt” that the modern version of the genre really kicked off. Anyway - my point was, I think a game like this would have been massively popular if it had been released during the NES or SNES area. It offers a different challenge than a traditional platformer, and it makes the level design the most important part of the game dev (IMHO).
The level design in Kid Tripp is excellent; there are often two possible paths, one tricker but necessary for completists, and quite regularly there are multiple options of how to tackle a stage. The jump button gives you the ability to time your jump which gives you a suprisingly amount of freedom.
The game is pretty hard, but each level is around 20 seconds long which makes each level beatable with enough trial and error.
So what lessons can I take from this game from a gamedev and game design point of view?
- Great level design is very important in games with limited maneuverability
- Short levels/save points and unlimited continues really helps in challenging games
- Being able to replay a single level is great for completionists (if I had to replay the whole world I would have given up)