Back in the day, every game you bought would cost you roughly the same, regardless of how long that game would last you. In this day and age, however, and this has been true for some time now, there are games which you can pick up for very little of your hard earned money. The quality and value of these games, of course, varies just like everything else, but at less than £5/$5, how does Kamiko fare?
Firstly, Kamiko has a very simple story, the kind of story which you would have found in games back in the NES/SNES era, of which this game aesthetically attempts to look like. There’s no major plot to be found but for this game, that is perfectly fine.
One of the immediate draws of the game is that you get to choose between three different characters, each with their own unique weapons which slightly alter the way you play the game. Yamato wields a sword and is your typical hero. She’s a close ranged attacker but a fast one at that. Uzume has a bow, meaning you want to stay a bit further back and shoot from a distance. Hinome uses a boomerang style weapon and dagger, which is a bit of a combination of the first two characters.
I would be going too far to say that the difficulties of the different characters alter a great deal, but I certainly found using the bow to be the trickiest of the three, but again, it isn’t drastically different. By continually pressing the attack button, your character will attack in a slightly different way. For example, when using Uzume, you can start off by firing one arrow, then two and then finishing it with three.
Once you choose your character, you are plunged head first into a fast-paced, top-down action game. The main thing you will be doing is killing enemies to fill up your SP meter. By chaining attacks together and getting combos, you can increase your SP meter faster. SP points are required to complete the game. For example, you may come across a treasure chest that has a key inside that will open up the way forward, but to get the key it costs 100 SP points. If you do not have the required points you need to go back and kill some more enemies until you have enough. But because every enemy in the game respawns, getting SP points is never difficult and I never actually found myself not having a sufficient amount. There is also an upgrade system in place where if you collect the relative items, the amount of hearts you can have will increase and the amount of SP points you can carry at one time can increase too.
In each of the four levels the game has to offer, your main objective is to reach four gates that you must liberate. Upon doing this you open the way up towards the end of level boss. Each of the bosses feature a bit of trick that you must learn in order to beat it, much like in Zelda games. The boss battles changed the pace of the game a little bit and were certainly a welcome addition. However, I didn’t feel that any of the bosses were that big of a challenge and I always had a fair bit of health left at the end of the battle.
The action can often get a bit frantic and for the most part, the game maintains a smooth framerate, which you would expect. There were a couple of instances, however, where there was some slowdown, nothing too major, but given the simplistic nature of the game and the power of the machine it’s running on, it really shouldn’t be an issue at all.
Kamiko has a really nice visual style and as I hinted at before, it is reminiscent of the old NES games we love but it does have a slight intimation of 16-bit era games too. This makes for a really nice mix. Each world looks different from the last and each has a pleasing vibrancy to it. I also have to give special mention to the soundtrack too, I could listen to some of the songs for all day, especially the theme that plays at the main menu. There is something brilliantly simple to it.
The biggest downside of Kamiko is that the game took me less than a single hour to complete from start to finish. As I alluded to before, there are only four levels in the game and I finished each of them in 10-15 minutes. What saves it a touch is you can go back with the other two characters for a slightly different experience with the different weapons, but even then that would still only take about three hours and you are effectively completing the same game three times in a row.
All in all, Kamiko is a fun, slick game that flows really well. You have one main question to ask yourself, is less than an hour of super fun gameplay worth £5/$5 to you? All of us at some point in our lives would have bought a much more inferior game than Kamiko that would have lasted a lot longer. But at the end of the day, if you get a better game at a very low price, regardless of how long the experience lasts, if you asked me which is the better deal of the two, I would go with Kamiko every day. If you want a (really) quick gaming fix for your Switch then you can’t go wrong with Kamiko.