Format reviewed: PC
Other formats available: Switch (at some point in the future)
Developer: Outerminds
Price: £16.75
Website: Official Website, Steam page
Players: 1

I’ve been running and writing for Blueprint: Review since its inception some 14 years ago, yet I’ve never personally written a video game review. I’m maybe not as clued up on them as I am with films, but I’ve been a gamer since I was a youngster, though I stopped for a few years after my kids were born. Now they’re a bit older and more self-sufficient I’ve been getting back into games. So, I thought I might dip my toe into the water of game reviews at some point.

Well, I finally found the game that managed to talk me into it. Perfectly fusing my love of films with my love of video games is Turbo Kid. The new game, which is being launched on Steam and later will arrive on Nintendo Switch, is not a straight adaptation of the 2015 film of the same name, written and directed by the trio of François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell (a film that is a heap of fun, by the way). No, it’s actually a sequel that has been developed alongside the filmmakers. It’s even supposed to pave the way for a forthcoming cinematic follow-up.

The story of the game leads on from the end of the film (which I’ll try not to spoil here) and sees our titular young hero, who rides a BMX and fights off bad guys with his Turbo Glove, travel across the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic 1997 (as seen from an 80s perspective).

At the start of the game, Turbo Kid is mugged by marauding bandits, left with only his Turbo Glove and armour. He’s helped by Naomi though, an electronics and tech whizz who leads our hero in the right direction to get his stuff back. She then helps enhance his kit even further as Turbo Kid travels around the neighbouring sectors to restore peace and battle an evil Singularist preacher who worships machines and leads a horde of mecha-mutants.

I had a lot of fun with Turbo Kid, the game. It captures the essence of the film nicely, blending 80s/90s nostalgia with ultraviolence and a goofy, innocent charm. Like the film, it has a lot of heart too. In particular, there are some touching flashbacks to scenes with Apple from the film (or that time in the narrative, at least). Naomi’s story takes some poignant twists later on too, so you genuinely care for the characters, despite all the blood and guts flying around.

Yes, this is a very violent and gory game, so you might want to think twice before letting younger kids play. Saying that, the game does have a lightness of touch and charm about it, to prevent the game from ever feeling genuinely unpleasant. Plus, with the retro 16-bit-inspired pixel graphics, the splatter doesn’t look particularly realistic.

Saying that, the game physics and animations are well-honed, giving it a bit of a classic Prince of Persia look with a modern twist and faster, smoother gameplay.

The game looks gorgeous in general. The pixel art backgrounds are particularly nice and there are some modern lighting effects used to bring the game into the 21st Century. The music is cool too, composed by Le Matos, the electro band who produced the music for the film.

The game map is split into several distinct sections, each with their own look and inhabitants. You can travel to these in any order, once you’ve got hold of the first few powerups, which gives the game a nice open-world spin.

This is a Metroidvania-style game. So, certain areas won’t be accessible until you have the appropriate weapon or bike upgrades. As such, there’s a bit of backtracking involved, but not enough to get annoying. Plus, there are warp zones scattered around, so you can quickly zap yourself over to another area without having to run or cycle all the way over there.

There are a couple of traders in the game who sell you upgrades too, such as extra hearts (ala Zelda) and cartridge upgrades (handy bonus skills that can make life easier). There are plenty of boxes and debris around for you to destroy and claim the scrap to make these trades.

The gradual development of your skills and character help keep you hooked on the game, as the major upgrades, in particular, always make gameplay more enjoyable. Your bike is an early one you get and that opens up a whole world of fun, from whizzing around levels at greater speed, ploughing into bad guys or competing in time and trick trials to win more powerups.

The bike controls and physics are great too. It has an Excitebike/Trails feel in how it works. The bike is quickly pulled out on a button press and, inexplicably but thankfully, you can quickly get on it again with the same button, even if you sent it flying earlier. You seem to have an infinite supply of bikes or one repeatedly teleports its way to you, I’m not sure.

I wasn’t 100% sold on the default controller configurations, as I kept finding myself pressing the wrong buttons due to ingrained control schemes from different games. The controls made more sense further into Turbo Kid though, when new skills were obtained.

I felt the size of the game was well-pitched. It took me about 13 hours to complete, which is pretty substantial for an indie title at a £15-20 price range. That’s just to complete the story though. I’m quite far off collecting all the achievements and collectables, so you can get a lot more mileage out of the game, should you so desire. Also, there’s an option to play the game (in a non-canon story mode) as Apple. I had a quick look at this and it seems to be exactly the same story, just with some slightly tweaked dialogue. It can effectively double the length of the game though if you’re a true completionist.

There’s no basic difficulty level to choose from when starting up a game (that I remember at least). However, there is an ‘assist mode’ in the menu. This consists of a number of parameters you can adjust to make the game a little easier. These can be taken on and off whenever you like. I must admit, when finding a couple of the bosses frustratingly difficult (I’m not well-experienced in these style of games, I’ll add), I did switch a couple of these on.

I spotted a couple of glitches that will hopefully be addressed soon. Most notably, the sequences where you have to choose how to reply to a question often went wrong for me. The choices were obscured or jumbled up, though always followed the same ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘tease’ and ‘boast’ pattern so didn’t pose a problem. Also, when getting new powers, the pop-up windows that show you what they do always had a blank box in the middle that I assume should have shown an animation or image demonstrating the power’s effects.

These are minor niggles in an otherwise highly enjoyable game though. I found myself frequently staying up later than planned after getting hooked during a session. It looks great, plays well and stays true to the film it’s inspired by. Highly recommended.

Turbo Kid is out now on Steam and will be released on Nintendo Switch further down the line.

Turbo Kid - Video Game
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About The Author

Editor of films and videos as well as of this site. On top of his passion for film, he also has a great love for music and his family.

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