I recently received my copy of Kubo 3, a game about a gun slinging cowboy turtle made by a kid and published by Limited Run! Yes, a cowboy turtle game made by a kid! With the help of his father of course. When you are a young aspiring game developer and your father happens to be one of the most well-known and respected NES Maker user, you get down to business!
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from a game made by a child, especially since it was made with NES Maker. You probably know by now that I’m not a big fan of this software (sorry Dale!), but I understand the appeal of it and certainly understand that it’s the best choice for a kid who wants to make an NES game.
So, let’s dive into this river and let’s see what that turtle is eating for diner.
Kubo 1 & 2
The first game has a top down perspective and a single objective, find the key and get out of there alive! The sequel is a platformer where you gotta find a jewel and bring it back to the village. There are some nice bits of imagination. A turtle cowboy in Egypte? Why not! A big giant lady bug trying to kill you? Bring it on! There is a sense of child-like wonder here. Nice, but those two games are really short, almost just prototypes, with basic gameplay and graphics. It feels like when your little boy brings you a drawing he’s made. You marvel at the imagination, although his drawing technic hasn’t reach it’s full potential, and you put it on the fridge for all the world to see. Those first steps in his artistic journey are important after all. The thing is, should we sell those drawings? What are they worth? I’ll try to answer that later. For now, let’s dive into deeper waters.
The third game is certainly the most ambitious. The game has a big overworld map with 5 areas, each with its own boss. The overworld is from a top-down perspective and it switches to a side-scroller platformer when you enter an area. The story begins right where the last one ended, with a nice little cutscene. The evil Moglar kidnaps some villagers and asks you to bring him some crystals before he sets them free.
You can see great improvements over the first two games. Graphics are still basic but a little better. The bosses are fun, although a bit too easy to defeat. There’s an area in the clouds, a creepy cemetery, a castle made of giant carrots! That turtle is certainly going on an odd adventure! There’s also an under water area. They really made the efforts to vary the gameplay mechanics. I found myself really enjoying the game.
On the title screen, you can choose between normal and hard mode and you can play Kubo 1 & 2 as a bonus. The music from Raftronaut is great as always. The manual is well-done, with pictures and nice hand-drawn concept art by Seiji. I really like the green plastic shell of the cart. They took it seriously and offered a great physical edition.
The market is saturated with indie games, so why buy Kubo? After all, let’s be honest, it was made by a child, with all the shortcomings that come with it. For the price of the NES physical cartridge, you can buy a bunch of fun and great indie games. I wouldn’t normally go and buy games made by a kid, but the way I see it is that Seiji’s father, who goes on by the username dale_coop, is such a nice guy and important part of the community that it’s a good way to pay it forward and support him and his family. He went through tough times, and I find it important to show solidarity. Of course, you also encourage and support that young fellow who dared to dream big and publish an actual game, a feat that lots of wanna-be game devs often fail to do! So keep it up Seiji! I’m sure he’s on a road to a great a promising career.
My score: 6 cowboy hats out of 10
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