For the unaware, @IndieGamerChick is an Indie Game Critic who uses Twitter in a really cool way. She has hosted multiple events now to pair up Indie Game Developers with gamers to give away games in order to gain exposure, feedback, and everything in-between. Ultimately these events serve to help the game developers with their efforts and a lot of happy gamers get to try games they otherwise might not. Last Christmas, that gamer was me. She was hosting her #IndieChristmas event and I managed to receive a copy of Kid Tripp by Four Horses Limited. It was a fun little perpetual-runner-style game for my 3DS. I had just gotten my new 2DS XL after not being able to use my original 3DS XL for a while due to a bad B-Button. This experience not only made my Christmas-time brighter but it brought my attention to a developer who was not originally on my radar. As I write this, another event is happening called #IGCParty. As luck would have it, I managed to get a copy of Four Horses’ next and newest title, a spiritual sequel to Kid Tripp called Miles & Kilo. I’m playing this game on my Nintendo Switch.
Miles & Kilo clearly expands upon Four Horses’ earlier title. The game is a retro platformer done in the runner style. The graphics have a resemblance to those found in the Mutant Mudds series but I like the colors a bit better here. Not that Mutant Mudds is a bland game by any means but there’s something really nice about the way Miles & Kilo brightens up the screen in most levels. There are various different worlds and each have their own distinct look. Most are bright and cheery but there are the occasional caves to endure. It is nice to enjoy the pixel art as I have, since I do end up repeating levels multiple times to either improve my high score, or just to plain beat them if they’re a bit harder.
If Mutant Mudds is where the graphics inspire a bit from, the gameplay tends to borrow from multiple sources. I see a bit of Runner3 here, though honestly I may be having more fun. The levels are shorter as I run, jump, slide, and attack my way through levels. The levels seem a bit more fair than Runner3s did when I began playing that back a few months ago. However this game is certainly not trying to be Bit.Trip Runner or it’s sequels in any way. Bit.Trip Runner may have blown the doors off the genre but Miles & Kilo carves it’s own spot in the bunch. There’s actually a clear reference to Donkey Kong Country Returns in here. I won’t quite spoil how but it was a nice homage, even if I found it somewhat frustrating. One might think that I am referencing the mine-cart stuff, but I’m not! The game does have mine cart levels though, which change things up from your normal mode where you can actually stop running if you need to wait for a better timed jump. This is highly unadvised however if you are trying to make it to an S-Rank, as you need to beat the level without stopping at all in order to beat the ideal stage times. This isn’t all too hard in some stages though as the game does have a very natural flow and feel. So even when a stage may not have tripped you up with it’s hazards, you’re still having fun going from beat to beat. Most stages will stop you in your tracks at least once, and some many times. The stages that actually seem to be my least favorite are the boss battles. Not that these are unpleasant but they are usually too short or simple, where my failings actually feel less fun and more frustrating. Could just be a weird interpretation I’m having of them. They look nice visually though.
One more note to make about the visuals actually is I want to make a quick shout out to the World Map! It’s got a great look to it. I love how the grass, trees, and other features dance and shimmy about. This brings life to it in a way originally seen back in Super Mario Bros. 3. The map design also smartly shows you your rank for each stage, making it quick and easy to go back and do better if you’re eager to erase those C and B rankings. I’m not one to really give a damn about that sort of thing but between the quick and clean readouts at the end of each stage and the way the map shows things off, I find myself having an incentive to go back and try to better my score anyway. Nice that the longevity of a game like this is actually hooking me in. Earning an “S” Rank feels like a real accomplishment. I’m playing with AutoRun off and that really puts my fate in my hands as any hesitation I have will translate into my score. For that reason alone I am keeping AutoRun off even though there isn’t much of a reason I shouldn’t turn it on. The game clearly is designed to allow you to turn it on and work beautifully.
There are two other aspects to the gameplay that make this game unique. First, the minor aspect, your dog. Kilo awaits you in some levels and when you do grab his leash, you begin an autorun segment which changes up some aspects of your gameplay. These feel different enough and aren’t so plentiful as to become tired. In fact, there’s a fun banter about whether or not Kilo will help you during boss battles. The other aspect to the gameplay is the ammo mechanic. Here you have a limited stock of fruit you can throw to take out nuisance enemies. Additional fruit around the stage replenishes your stockpile. You’ll get points at the end for having a full bundle on your person but you’re free to use as see fit. I’ve found it to be a nice addition to the ‘Runner-formula’.
Besides the graphics and gameplay, this game has some nice music. Chris Kukla’s soundtrack is reminiscent of VVVVVV‘s. While I ultimately prefer that one to Miles & Kilo‘s, the fact they seem to exist in the same family of genre is enough to satisfy me during gameplay. They are original tracks of course and I appreciate what they’ve done here.
In summary, I recommend gamers to give this game a chance. If you like platforms, especially tough ones, this is for you. The fun and challenge comes from fast-paced gameplay and score building mechanics. While I ultimately would like to see Four Horses branch out from the runner-style game again, my growing appreciation of theirs is reminiscent of my growing appreciation for Image & Form with their SteamWorld series. I’m excited to see where Four Horses is six months, one year, or five years from now. Hopefully I am still playing their games.