Bring me to the main page   Bring me to the reviews index

Kid Chaos logo

What would you do if you were catapulted forward thousands of years?

Game: Kid Chaos
Runs on: A500, A600, A1200
Publisher: Ocean
Authors: Magnetic Fields
Price: £25.99 floppy, £27.99 CD32
Release: Out now

Kid Chaos P hew. Good job we held off reviewing Kid Chaos until it had been completely finished and had had its name finalised, eh? Otherwise we might have done something embarrassing like writing ‘Kid Vicious’ on our cover. But anyway. Nomenclature confusion aside, Kid Chaos looked decidedly impressive when Ocean first showed it to us last month. Developers Magnetic Fields really did seem to have got to the bottom of what makes a good platform game.
Kid Chaos did not just scroll really fast – heck, a game could scroll from one side of the playing area to the other in 0.25 seconds without necessarily being any fun – but it made use of that speed by sending you flying joyously through conveniently-placed lines of collectables, hurling you miles up into the air and flinging you from bumper to bumper in pure rapture. And on top of that it was full of original thinking, like having little Duck Shoot and Breakout games at the end of levels. Magnetic Fields genuinely seemed to know what they were doing.

So it came as something of a surprise when I jumped down a shaft near the end of level 3 and got killed by some spikes. There were not any spikes at the bottom of the last two shafts I’d jumped down. I had no way of knowing there’d be some at the bottom of this one. I put my head in my hands and wept, realising for the first time that Kid Chaos is, in fact, no different. It is just like all the others.

JUMP
And as it turns out, Kid Chaos is a game of extremes. On the one hand there are the brilliant, truly inspired features like the spiky balls which make stereophonic swooshing noises as they swing from side to side (once you have turned off the ill-advised rave soundtrack), and the way your power level gradually rises if you stand still, so you can trade time for energy, or the little room in the Toy Factory where you have got to bash into rows of Space Invader-shaped baddies. And on the other hand there are pointless, brainless things like barrels which suddenly come rolling towards you giving you no chance of avoiding them unless you are expecting them, and bumpers which send you flying backwards into spiky pits, and spikes which blend into the background so well that, although you can just about make them out while you are standing still, you have no chance of spotting them when the screen is scrolling, and – perhaps most witless of all – orange bubbles which inexplicably appear directly on top of your sprite and kill him. It is a bizarre kind of Jekyll and Hyde-type situation, good versus evil, and at the moment I am not exactly sure which side triumphs. Going back to the good things, the settings make a refreshing change. You will find no slippy-slidey ice worlds or runaway mine-carts. Instead there are neat ideas like the Toy Factory where all the toys are running amok, and the pollution-ridden Toxic Wasteland, even if it does start off in a garden.

RUN
The graphics are generally all right as well, if a bit muddily-coloured. The levels are about the right length, and each one has got a different emphasis, whether it is having to make your way carefully through a particularly trickly-placed series of platforms, having to hunt around for thinly spread Smashable Things (which you have got to hit a certain number of to open each level’s exit), or simply having to race to the end against a particularly tight time limit. This, along with the amusing end-of-level bits, makes for a game containing plenty of variety.

Kid Chaos But what about the momentum on Kid himself? It is a real effort to get him moving, and just as tough to get him to stop again, which means he is constantly blundering into baddies, sliding off platforms and not being able to make it off collapsing platforms. And he is hardly the most identifiable-with of characters – a caveman in Zany Cool Sneakers who I was rarely sorry to see plunging to his death. Cute woodland animals might be clichéd, but they do at least appeal to the protective instinct in us all.

Kid Chaos has got lovely bits where you go whizzing along winding pipes and burst joyfully out of the end, and then completely stupid bits where you have got to tip-toe between closely-placed crushers, only cannot possibly make it through because the controls are so sluggish. It sends you bouncing in exhilarating zig-zags between carefully placed bumpers, but then puts an electric force field at the end that you go flying towards and die. It recognises a second disk drive, but then draws a huge picture of a disk on the screen and writes “Please insert disk 2” when disk 2 is already there. AND THERE IS A POWER-UP THAT REVERSES YOUR CONTROLS.

I desperately wanted Kid Chaos to be a great game and, on balance, I think I like it quite a bit more than I hate it. But is is almost as if Magnetic Fields spent months writing this beautifully platform game, fine-tuning it down to the very last detail, and then left it on the kitchen table overnight ready to post off to Ocean the next day, whereupon some mischievous mice crept in and inserted a load of completely ridiculous flaws into it in a sort of reverse Tailor of Gloucester scenario.
And yes, it does look like Sonic.
JONATHAN DAVIES

Amiga Power, Issue 41, September 1994, p.p.41-42



"Burst joyfully out of the end"


Upper UPPERS Does not just half-heartedly mimic Sonic, but manages to capture all the best bits of it. In places it is truly uplifting as you get sucked along pipes and thrown from bumper to bumper. The graphics are consistently good, and the sound effects are pretty spicy too. There is a thoughtfully-implemented password system. And above all it is varied, getting more and more complex the further you get.
Downer DOWNERS But there are enough classic blunders to keep Kangaroo Court going for months. Spitefully-placed spikes, obstacles you cannot avoid unless you memorise the entire game’s layout, sluggish controls and restart points directly in the path of deadly laser bolts conspire to make it intensely frustrating.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Kid Chaos could have been something really special, but is relegated to mere ‘Well worth a look’ status by a catalogue of ludicrous flaws. If you buy it, be prepared to explain your bloodcurdling howls of exasperation to the neighbours.
71

P E R C E N T

THE BOTTOM LINE

A1200 Looks the same on the A1200. There is a CD32 version, though, if that helps, which outrageously costs £2 more and features marginally improved graphics and sound.



Kid Chaos logo  CU Amiga Screen Star

With a blinding flash, Mr Ocean's magic wand comes down and the once wild Kid Vicious suddenly becomes... Kid Chaos! Savior of the Amiga platformer! Andy Nuttall follows the story...

Kid Chaos So Sonic can't be done on the Amiga, eh? Since Sonic appeared on the Mega Drive it's been the bone of contention for Amiga kids, jeered at in school playgrounds by smug Mega Drive-owning peers. And seemingly every time an Amiga is mentioned in a Mega Drive magazine it's described as an 'older person's machine, with a great line in RPGs and flight sims, but no great shakes in the platform stakes'.

THE PLOT
Kid Chaos, from Lotus creators Magnetic Fields, wields a pretty hefty club in the direction of these doubters. Technically superior to any other platform game (Sonic included) Kid combines fast, smooth-scrolling, an incredible number of parallax layers, and colors and sounds so vibrant it makes you wonder what the hell the other platform creators have been doing for the last few years.

Like all good arcade games there is a plot, or at least some cobbled-together guff which passes for one. It seem that a young, carefree, happy-go-lucky caveman was out hunting dinosaurs when POW! A pair of crazy scientists (from the future, naturally) whip him, and his club, to a modern-day garden suburb. Quite why they did this is unknown and, quite frankly, as immaterial as the whole story, but it's made even more confusing by the additional wardrobe of trousers, jacket and trainers that accompanied the quantum leap through time.

Kid ChaosOkay, so the storyline stinks. That established, we can now concentrate on the game which is, thankfully, much better. Five worlds lie between Kid and his goal: Secret Garden, Toxic Wasteland, Toy Factory, Techno Fortress and Ruined City. In terms of running, jumping, bashing and collecting they're very similar, but each world is both different and remarkable in its graphical style. The Secret Garden, for example, is packed with colorful flowers, beautiful greenery and wildlife, but no concession has been made to the fast pace and smoothness of the game. Not since Thalion's Lionheart have we been treated to so many layers of parallax, but that game was pedestrian in comparison – when the Kid gets going he really moves.

Kid, still armed with his dinosaur-braining club, sets out to find the time machine, which could return him to his prehistoric home and, along the way, collect enough energy to actually power the sting. Sadly, the 'energy' in this case is stored in various disguises: flowers, stone monuments and lamp shades, to name but three, which must be destroyed in order to gather their electrical content. There's a certain amount which must be collected in each level before moving on to the next, so it's not just a case of racing through to the finishing post – you have to work to make that exit door open.

From the beginning it's clear that Kid Chaos has been written with the player in mind. The controls can be changed, a throwback from the old Commodore 64 and Spectrum games, which is all too often lost on the Amiga. Now you can either push the button or move the joystick up to jump, both of which suit different people and if you're controlling with a joypad (CD32, for example) 'up to jump' strikes dread into the heart of players who, like me, put playability above everything else. But Magnetic Fields are veterans now, having produced some of the better games in recent times: Kickstart on the C64, Super Sprint on the ST and, more recently, the Lotus Turbo trilogy for Gremlin. So perhaps they should now best.

When you complete a level you're given a complete run-down of your achievements. The amount of energy collected and baddies clubbed are highlighted, Chaos Engine-style, as small horizontal tubes which form a kind of bar graph charting your progress. So, if you've missed a few nasties, or you think you could have done better in the energy department, then you can always go back and try again. It's this kind of attention-to-detail which makes Kid Chaos a game you'll keep coming back to.

And, of course, a platform game wouldn't be complete without its pickups. Apples, sweets, rocks, whatever, each one collected adds to your hit points (the number of times you can be hit by a baddie without losing a life). Each successive level has baddies with greater hit points, so while on World One Level One you might lose, say, 30 hit points, by the time you get up to World Three Level Three you'll probably lose 50. And since you start the game with 50, make it a priority to acquire those pickups as soon as you can.

THE BEST?
Thankfully, as you've probably gathered by now, the stunning technicalities don't overshadow the gameplay. It makes no claim to be original; indeed, it copies (parodies?) many other games like Zool and Sonic. The Toy Factory, say, could be directly taken from Zool (or any one of a number of other platform games), while the underground rollercoaster tubes and 45 degree springs which cannon you into the air are classic Sonic features.

There is something wrong with Kid Chaos, though, believe it or not. This one real flaw is in the weight of the main sprite – he carries far too much momentum, which makes it very difficult to stop on some of the smaller platforms. And inertia plays havoc with the Kid when you're trying to move him up a hill: he really drags and grates his way up, which means it's a good second or so before you can make it to top speed. Because the worlds in Chaos are particularly hilly and packed with tiny little platforms, it seems ludicrous that the designers expect you to judge pinpoint distances with a control system that feels like lumpy porridge. Like I said, when he gets going, though, he really moves – and its this exhilarating speed that really makes up for the lack of control in the tighter areas.

It stands, then, as a slightly flawed gemstone. A pick-up-and-play game which doesn't get too difficult too quickly, which looks and sounds brilliant, which poses a decent challenge to those who have already killed off Zool and the others, but which is slightly frustrating because of the massive momentum of the main sprite. Compared with the scale of the game this is perhaps being picky, but I really feel that Kid Chaos could have been one of the greatest platformers ever if the Kid himself was just a wee bit more maneuverable.

CU Amiga, September 1994, p.p.86-87

A KID UP THE EIGHTIES

Back in the days of Space Invaders, Breakout and all the other early Eighties coin-ops, Magnetic Fields were already formulating plans to include them in a game they'd be producing in ten years time... probably.

 

SECRET GARDEN
Breakout's the theme in the Garden. Using your club instead of a bat, you can scoop up the three balls and whack them up at the bricks to knock them out.

Secret Garden

Toxic Wasteland
TOXIC WASTELAND
Er... not quite a coin-op, but a shoot 'em up nonetheless. As the rocks fall, shoot them, and destroy all the barrels of toxic waste as well but they speed up, so watch out.
TOY FACTORY
Shoot a teddy, and a duck replaces it. Shoot the duck, and the teddy reappears. So, the aim is to kill all the teddies (shame), and leave the ducks well alone.

Toy Factory

Techno Fortress
TECHNO FORTRESS
Space Invaders, Chaos-style. We're talking real arcade stuff here, and it's even got all the sound effects and everyting!

Just like Toxic Wasteland, this isn't based on a coin-op either. Never mind, shoot the pillars and posts until the crumble and fall.

Ruined City

OCEAN £25.99
A500
A1500
A500+
A2000
A600
A3000
A1200
A4000
OCEAN, 6 CENTRAL STREET, MANCHESTER, M2 5NS. TEL: 061 832 6633
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
 
JULY
PLATFORM
MAGNETIC FIELDS
JOYSTICK
4
1
YES
1Mb

 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY
83%
86%
87%
88%
At last, the Amiga has a platformer to compete with the consoles.
OVERALL: 87%