In the last few months of a console's life the quality of games tends to slide as developers shift more of their resources to whatever the next gen console is. Games during this time tend to be substandard, crappy rehashes or rushed kiddie fare. There can be found the occasional gem however. Enter Kid Klown for the NES. This kiddie game released in 1993 flew under the radar as the rest of us were focused on our 16-bit and soon to-be-released 32-bit consoles.
We have a standard platformer with the usual plot, your family (who are all made up of clowns) get kidnapped by the evil magician person so you have to do rescue them, lots of walking left to right and jumping over things ensues. The gimmick here is you are armed with balloons that you can throw, kick along the ground, or smash certain blocks with. By holding an inflated balloon you can float a certain distance (i.e. a longer jump.) There is also the occasional powerup to be found but nothing that grants you additional abilities.
Inbetween levels there are short bonus rounds where you lob slowly moving water balloons at targets, carnival-style. Your shot is slow and inaccurate though so good luck hitting anything.
What makes the game stand is the above average level design. The essential rule to making a good platformer is to not have any boring, "dead" space, where one does nothing but walk (i.e., Sonic the Hedgehog for instance.) There's always something going on here, some kind of obstacle or tricky jump to keep things interesting.
The rest of the game sadly remains about average. The graphics and sound aren't much to write home about, semi-decent animation with the main character but nothing we haven't seen done better elsewhere. Bosses are embarassingly easy, but this is a kid's game after all. The controls here are less than spectacular. Our clown hero seems to move just a little too fast, could be a little more responsive. You end up falling down bottomless pits and such on accident a lot, but it's nothing that hinders gameplay too much.
As a child I probably never would have gone for this game, just a little too cutesy for me - if it didn't have monsters, spaceships, or guys getting beat up I didn't want it. This game is not perfect by any means, but is worth it for a few play troughs.
Graphics: Pretty average graphics going on here. Decently sized characters with average animation that doesn't look too ghetto. The screen uses a muted pastel color palate, which makes the overall look dry and flat. You would think a game about clowns would have lots of bright primary colors.
Sound: Not much going on here worth noting. The sound effects do their job. Bizarre circus music in the background could have used a little more work.
Gameplay: Good level design is the game's saving grace. As it's a kiddie game it's rather easy (especially the bosses) but there are a few challenging areas here and there.
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