Platform puzzle game Kami Retro is Super Mario's evil doppelganger.
While Nintendo's hero finds happiness in courting Peach, Gamevil's bandana-wearing star scurries through stages in a panic as though he's being chased by a maniacal princess wielding a rolling pin in one hand and shaking a fist with the other.
Mario definitely has the better life (and better game), yet Kami Retro is nonetheless entertaining. A clever mix of platforming and puzzle-solving, this colourful game is easily the best from publisher Gamevil in the last two years.
Chaperone at the finger dance
The object is to guide troopers through levels filled with obstacles, collecting stars on the way to the exit portal.
Since these guys walk automatically, you're responsible for instructing them when and where to jump. Timing is of the essence - once you start chaperoning troopers, they continue to appear at regular intervals from the arrival portal.
For instance, the first few levels involve swiping diagonally across the screen to trigger jumps in order to safely direct your troopers over pitfalls and chomping carnivorous plants.
As such, successfully completing a level is a matter of deducing the optimal path to the exit, positioning any key objects, then nailing the timing for each of the four troopers that appear.
You only need to escort one trooper to the exit portal, but the nature of the game is such that you're motivated to get all four to the finish.
By introducing objects - fans that blow troopers across the stage, springs that bounce them high, switches that temporarily remove obstacles, etc. - the game remains fresh through the course of 60 levels divided among five themed worlds.
Learning how to use these items is fun and challenging, adding just enough variety to keep things interesting.
Repeat yourself again
Still, the number of levels is limited and the repetition inherent in the game's design prevents Kami Retro from being an all-out hit. You can whip through a dozen levels in short order, although the replay value is decent since you can replay stages to earn a perfect three-star rating and unlock achievements via Game Center.
More of an issue is the monotony of repeating the same sequence of events four times within each level. It's overkill in the later, more complicated levels, particularly when you have to deal with more than one trooper on the screen at a time.
It's not enough of a problem to cut into the game's appeal -in fact, this unique design makes Kami Retro entertaining. Colourful, fun, and challenging, it's highly recommended.