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Kid Niki (NES)

Youíve probably heard the rant before. Games used to be harder, new games just coddle you and guide you along by the hand, making it so you practically canít lose. While thatís not completely true, there are some instances. Kid Niki is one of those. Itís the type of game that will make you want to take your controller, throw it against the ground, rip the game out of the system and toss it under your bed. Ten seconds after you do, however, youíll be scrambling down to find it, put it back in, and resume playing. Itís frustrating, but in an addictive sort of way.

The game starts off with your silhouette behind the wall of the Ninja School. You see a bird fly up to you behind the wall, get shot by an arrow and land by you, and then you jump through the wall and head off. One assumes the bird probably had a message tied to it saying someone needed your help, it doesnít really tell you that, but regardless, the point is that youíre on your way to adventure.

The game is broken up into a number of stages, which you moving along the stage from the left to the right. As you progress, enemies will come at you from either the left or right, some of which just run at you, toss things at you, or a few other methods of attacks. You must run up to them and hit them with your weapon to dispose of them. Each level will also have a number of other things for you to deal with, such as holes you have to jump over, moving platforms, and other obstacles along the way. At the end of each stage is a boss you must defeat, and once you do so youíll move on to the next level. Itís pretty much your standard platformer formula, start on the left, move to the right, jump, dodge and kill things, and avoid dying. While thereís nothing wildly new or different there, it still is very fun.

Each level is broken up into a number of sections. Any time you get hit by an enemy or fall in a hole, you die and return to the beginning of the section of the level youíd made it to. You start off with three lives, although you can earn more with points from defeating enemies, and when you lose all of your lives, the game is over. You have unlimited continues, which allow you to start over from the beginning of the level you made it to. While that might make things sound easy, itís all still very challenging. Itís very easy to die, as enemies will literally come flying at you from all over, jumping and moving their way directly into your path. Jumping over holes is made much more difficult if something comes flying out of the ground and heads straight for you, or if youíre on a moving platform which is about to sink into the ocean but thereís enemies coming at you from any other area of land. Even though you can continue as many times as you want, going back to the start of the level certainly doesnít make things much easier. While one might assume, since you can continue as often as you want, that even if the game is hard, if you keep working at it that youíre eventually going to beat it even if youíre not good at it, thatís certainly far from the truth. Even with the unlimited continues, each of the levels can border on impossible by itself, and the unlimited continues wonít help you any if you hit your system and cause it to reset.

Despite the level of challenge, even if youíre not the near perfectionist it takes to complete the game, it still is very fun. All of the stages are very interesting, thereís a decent variety of enemies, and the music is catchy. Even though you might die every twenty seconds, youíll still be able to enjoy yourself wandering through the stage, jumping around, and killing the enemies. Even if you are one who gets frustrated, the game us still addictive enough to keep pulling you back for more. Even if you never beat it, itís still an enjoyable game. If you do beat it, youíll take a hammer and smash it and never want to touch it again.. no, seriously though, it is entirely possible to beat the game, and even once you do itís still just as much fun to go through playing the levels.

If you let Kid Niki get to you, you might get very frustrated with it. Thereís certainly more than a few areas that are liable to do that to you. Really though, itís just a video game, and whatís the use of getting mad at a video game? If youíre just able to play and enjoy it, it really is a very fun game. If youíre looking for something to test yourself against, a very challenging game, this is good for that as well. Itís not as if itís so impossible that youíll give up all hope of ever beating it, but it is extremely hard. With practice though, you can become better at it, and if you do keep working, you probably will manage to beat it.

There are a few small things hidden throughout the game, just one or two hidden areas and shortcuts for you to find. In general though, once you do beat the game, youíve really seen all there is to see. So, another time through the game wonít yield any specific new discoveries other than those few things. There are still plenty of reasons to play through the game though. You can see how far you can make it without dying, try to beat the game without using a continue, see how high of a score you can get, or any number of other goals you might make for yourself. Even once you do beat it, itís not as if beating it again will be any easier. So, just beating it again once youíve beat it will be more than challenge enough. Regardless though, whether you never beat it, only beat it once or twice, or can beat it any time you play, it still is a very enjoyable game. It provides a very good challenge, and is just fun to sit down and play whenever you want.

Gameplay: 10/10
Graphics/Sound: 8/10
Length/Replay: 10/10
Overall: 10/10