The ScrewAttack Game Convention was full of great games and surprises this year, but none more impressive, in my opinion, than this charming sidescrolling platformer by the name of KR-17. When I first approached the booth, it looked like little more than a Mega Man clone starring a robot with trackwheels in place of the blue bomber's legs. While that assessment isn't too awfully far from the truth, there is enough unique charm (and actual backstory!) to make this a game worth supporting.
Wonderfling is a small indie studio based in Texas with big ideas. KR-17 is actually designed to be the first game in a 4-part series of games called The Terrian Saga. Each chapter in the saga is a completely different genre of game and the whole series will tell the story of the planet Terrius. This first game is about a rogue terrorist agent on one of the colonized planets and your journey as the KR-17 robot to save the day. KR-17 is only one of hundreds of other KR-type robots, but 17 has a face, personality and ambition to do what's right.
The ingame story promises to offer even more depth and they're shooting for around 6-8 hours of gameplay, which is a pretty hefty amount of time for something like this. Thankfully the controls were super tight in the demo I played and I was easily able to navigate the environments. While the robot resembles Mega Man in his design, the levels themselves remind me much more of the older Metroid games. Each area is large with different doors, switches, keycards and passages for exploration.
KR-17 also comes equipped with several types of weapons for battling all the enemies you'll come across. You have access to a basic laser-based weapon, frag grenades, mines, napalm grenades and more. All of the weapons drain the same fuel meter, but refueling stations are spread liberally at helpful locations throughout levels along with checkpoints. You'll also be able to launch a precision-guided missile to navigate mazes in some sections of the game and this little rocket even has his very own face and personality. Levels consisted of enough variety to keep me engaged and also featured some of the best retro-style music I've heard in a long time. Every song fits the level perfectly and never feels out of place at all. If someone told me this was a SNES game, I'd believe them and I mean that in the best way possible.
The balance between combat and platforming felt just right and there was enough challenge to prevent you from simply blazing through every area. I noticed a heavy mixture of enemy types, ranging from small crawlers along the ground, to robot spiders, flying enemies and more. The standout sections of the game for m, however, were definitely the jetpack portions. By tapping the button it causes you to rise, releasing causes a quick decent due to gravity - it's fairly standard controls here. What makes these parts so fun is how well the levels are designed around this tool and how they mix in combat and platforming to feel organic to the situation instead of just tacked-on powers.
The gameplay and philosophy for KR-17, the game, seems to act as a metaphor for the same philosophy of KR-17 the robot. While on its face it looks like just another game mirroring other sidescrolling platformer clones, it actually has a lot of charm and personality when you give it a chance. You can check out Wonderfling's official website here, the Kickstarter for the game (still a ways to go, but you can help and get access to the full game for as little as $8) right here and download a demo over on this page.
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