By Scott Ramage / November 27th, 2019
|Title||Jet Kave Adventure
|Release Date||September 17th, 2019|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone|
Need more side-scrolling platforming in your life? Poland’s own 7Levels is happy to oblige with Jet Kave Adventure, a side-scrolling platformer with a healthy mix of prehistoric dinosaurs, cavemen and alien technology.
Jet Kave Adventure begins with Kave, a chief of his caveman tribe, getting banished by his own people. Just as he’s about to get shoved off a cliff, a UFO crash lands nearby and allows him to escape. The pilot of said UFO incapacitates Kave and plans to use crystals from the nearby volcano, which prevent it from erupting and wiping out everyone and everything, to get the ship working again. Kave comes to, nabs a jetpack from the ship, and sets off to stop the alien. This and other events are all told primarily through Sims-like talk bubbles and gestures, and do the job well enough. However, the entire game seems to consistently run at 30 frames per second. This doesn’t affect the gameplay, but it does look like in-game cutscenes were supposed to run at 60 frames because everyone seems to be moving in slow motion.
As for said gameplay, Jet Kave Adventure combines the capabilities of both the jet pack and the guy it’s strapped to. Kave can throw stones, swing a club, wall jump, and move at a full sprint while crouching. The jet pack allows him to hover over big gaps, gain a little height, or charge in any direction. Kave can perform multiple moves at the same time (e.g. swing the club while ducking, jumping or clinging to vines) and often has to in later stages. Considering the game is meant to be played with some urgency—there are many jumping sequences with crumbling platforms or snapping branches—good controls are a must, and this game delivers on that front. His jumps can feel a bit floaty at first, but everything Kave does feels tight and responsive, allowing for those split-second club swings or dashes through breakable walls. It’s also taught well, using background cave art to demonstrate how everything works without breaking the flow of the game.
That sense of speed extends to the challenges in Jet Kave Adventure. Every stage has three of them: no damage, collecting a certain amount of seeds, and finishing the stage below a certain time. These are things that can be pursued later of course, as are the trophies. Each stage has a trophy of a certain character hidden somewhere. These usually aren’t too hard to find, though some are tucked away in areas that require precise air dashing and jet pack fuel management. Given that there are four “worlds” and 36 stages, plus a few extra trophies outside of those, there’s a fair amount to do even after making the credits roll. I tried taking my time through the game and still only got 27 of 39 possible trophies.
Kave starts Jet Kave Adventure with some limitations, like three hearts of health and a relatively small fuel tank for the jet pack. However, there’s a lot that makes the journey far less daunting. The jet pack recharges every time Kave lands. There are checkpoints in each stage which completely refill his health. Certain enemies and background items will drop bits of food, which Kave can carry and eat later to restore a point of lost health. Helping even further is the shop, accessible between stages. Kave can use his gathered seeds to buy things like a bigger club, extra health, extra food storage or a bigger jet pack fuel tank. If it seems like I’m downplaying the challenge, I should clarify that Jet Kave Adventure isn’t going for old school Nintendo levels of difficulty. Rather it’s a game that puts some complex platforming in front of the player and wants them to succeed, offering the necessary tools as well as some additional options to help if you’re struggling.
Another strong point is the enemies. Jet Kave Adventure has a set roster of enemies and gradually introduces more of them over the course of the game, making an effort to add new attacks, movement patterns and the like, with only a few palette swaps. Helping the speed aspect of the game is that most have a unique sound they’ll make when they’re about to appear on screen. That on top of environmental hazards like exploding flowers and revolving punji stakes keep things from getting samey by the midway point.
36 stages can be a lot for a side-scrolling platformer with about four different environments, but Jet Kave Adventure tries to mix it up a bit. Some levels are partially or entirely chases, where you need to hold right and quickly react to everything the game throws at you. Others are punctuated with boss fights. Some have hang gliding, where Kave’s jet pack propels it upward as you dive down and fly over obstacles. Beyond that are straight up flying sections. Think top-down shooters without the shooting. Kave needs to move from side to side avoiding whatever shoots out of the walls or falls from the top of the screen. While serviceable, none of these (except the chases) feel quite as fine-tuned as the core platforming gameplay. Bosses boil down to dodging a couple attacks, whacking the baddie with a club or rock, and repeating until they stop moving. Adding a couple extra moves at lower health did little to help the monotony. I’d gladly take those over more hang glider sections, though. Even after finishing the game, I never had a good grip on how to properly control this thing. It only got worse in later instances as it asked me to fly through rather narrow openings, which I usually just rammed into. This docks a hit point, but also lines Kave up with the opening. So much for my no damage runs.
While nothing bothered me about how Jet Kave Adventure looks or sounds, I can’t say I remember much about it on either front. Again, nothing looks or sounds bad. At times the soundtrack and visuals felt like something from Crash Bandicoot or Adventure Island. If asked to describe things beyond that though, I’d struggle. It’s functional and appropriate for what the game is, but doesn’t leave much of an impression beyond that.
Whether or not Jet Kave Adventure is worth it comes down to whether you think you’ll replay the stages to complete all the extra challenges. My initial playthrough lasted just short of four and a half hours, but I completed almost no challenges and missed several trophies. I want to recommend it to people who just want a nice platforming experience, but between its other shortcomings and the asking price of $19.99, I’m leaning more toward waiting for a sale. It’s functional fun, though not necessarily a total package.
Review copy provided by publisher.
7LevelsJet Kave Adventurenintendo switch