So, Kid has hung up his gloves?
Kid Gloves II was developed by Dave Semmens and is nothing like its prequel. In fact, it's completely different and more like a Wonderboy or Giana, Mario and the ilk. I believe it was originally called Little Beau but Digital Magic went bust and Millenium stepped in. Anyhow, this is great news for me because I was never a fan of the first.
The background story, you say? Okay, brace yourself... the love of our life has been kidnapped by an evil wizard who now has trapped her in his castle. We want her back! So that means travelling through five islands before reaching his castle lair to rescue our beloved. Hardly original, I'm sure you'll agree, but I'll buy into it.
Kid gets to travel through a number of islands on his way to the castle. Each is split into smaller sections with their own environments of ice, water, fire, sand, and wind. Of course, that means they're all slightly different with their own brand of hazards, monsters and the usual types of platforms to leap across. Let's take a look...
Water Island has been flooded so bring your swimming costume!
The fourth level has you walking like an Egyptian...
It's getting windy on the fifth level but things are looking rather samey!
Nice, but how's it play?
As you can see, the levels look great with the first stage being of ice and is a superb start with snow, melting platforms and so on. Each island follows the same mechanics so is pretty much what you'd expect albeit with the obvious aesthetic differences. However, I found the fifth island tiresome with irritating platforms that were hard and integrated with very long jumps - which meant losing lots of time backtracking!
Getting around most areas is exceptionally easy thanks to responsive controls and helpful arrows guiding you on your merry way. Kid actually walks using a two-fold method: shorter bursts, from a still, are of a slower pace for jumping across the ledges. Whereas a continuous run is faster and great for leaping over those wider gaps.
The monsters may look cute but they need killing with your trusty dagger (upgradable!). When slain, they drop items like coins, energy fruits and others which can empower with special abilities - super-high jumps, monster-squashing boots, balloons, critters and fireballs. Ultimately, we're searching each level for the baddie carrying the exit key. Once you are through the stages, the end-of-level guardian is waiting for you - for an easy battle!
Kid Gloves II features a couple of "hidden" features which you might find when exploring the levels. Stumbling upon something that looks like it should be in Vegas provides a chance to earn yourself lots of rewards be it a fruit machine or arcade game. Use your selection of coins in a slot machine or a horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em up.
Woohoo, I'm back in Vegas baby!! Well, there's a chance this machine might yield big rewards.
Ignore his freaky eyeballs because this shoot 'em up is a lot harder than you might first think.
I want juicy aesthetics!
Well, you've got 'em because graphically, Kid Gloves II is a cutey pie thanks to the talents of Doug Townsley. I love its 8-bit personality with each stage looking different and always gorgeous. However, it's the sprites which stand out the most for me with awesome attention to detail. The backgrounds are also fantastic but I was a little puzzled on Wind Island as everything as a samey feel and some platforms are difficult to see, which is a tad annoying.
Not many know this, but Kid Gloves 2 was the first platformer I booted up when returning to the Atari ST a number of years ago. I instantly fell in love with its cartoon visuals and how smoothly it scrolled - happy days had returned!! Oh, the floppy still works and remains one of my most cherished possessions.
Musically, this is great with a fantastic selection of chirpy chiptunes by Andy Severn and Justin Scharvona and I think they all suit the gameplay style perfectly. However, I didn't find a way to switch off the tunes in favour of sound effects which is odd. But, if I'm honest, I wouldn't have wanted to anyway. Chipmusic will last forever!
I've absolutely loved playing Kid Gloves 2 but nothing is perfect so what didn't I like? Well, each level kinda feels the same albeit with different visuals and the bosses are far too easy to kill. However, my biggest beef is with the timer which is unnecessary and spoilt my chances of ever beating the third island. Yes, I admit to cheating on those later levels and I normally never cheat. Honest. Ahem, anyhow no game should rush the player!
Wow, I sound like a right old moaner? Okay, I apologise because Kid Gloves 2 is a genuinely a fantastic platformer packed with fun levels, lots of baddies to kill, great power-ups and the control mechanics are fast and fluent. I also think this is something your kids will enjoy as much as us Dads so it comes highly recommended!!