‘Kale in Dinoland’ Review – Looks old, feels old, gets old

Kale in Dinoland takes all of it’s cues from the classic platformers, especially from the era of the original GameBoy.  It even makes the player “put in” a cartridge and then simulates “ejecting” one too which only adds to the games homage of old-school gaming.  It nails the look from that time period and runs smoothly, but ultimately that is not enough to save the game from its biggest problems.

The game has two major problems although only really one of which was the game’s fault.  The first problem is that these sorts of games are best played with a physical controller in hand so that feedback is felt by the player.  Playing the game with a digital controller takes away from the classic experience, although it is not necessarily the game’s fault.  Not having that feedback though leads to yet another problem.  This problem is the games insane difficulty.  It took me almost three full days just to beat the first area.  This is due to a number of problems.  The first of which is that a whole area must be completed in one go as there is no saving ones progress until the area is complete.  While games, from the time period this game tries to imitate, had this mechanic it just does not hold up in today’s world and a simple saving mechanic after each level in an area would have been greatly appreciated.

The next problem is that there is only one chance per area that I found in which it is possible to gain lives.  Unlike in Mario where collecting a hundred coins will give the player one life there is no such mechanic here and not even the simple mechanic of collecting things is in the game.  The game is also plagued with shoddy level design for example after spawning into a new level if the player takes one step to the right there is a few pixel wide gap and the player will instantly fall through and be greeted to the loss of a life.  Kale has an interesting ability which is to control any creature that he happens to jump on, i.e., the heads of be these rocks, birds, or kangaroo type things.  While this opens the game to many interesting possibilities it also leads to more problems.  For instance, in the level of the second area, the player must gain control of a “kangaroo” so they can jump up to a new area.  Once they gain control of the kangaroo they are instantly greeted by three more which leads to the player losing health and falling of his steed.  This is especially troublesome when jumping over large gaps.

All those little problems build up to one of the most challenging games I have ever played on any of my iDevices.  I was recently waiting in line at the hair dresser to get my hair cut when I figured I might as well try to advance in my play through of the game.  All this resulted in was me almost throwing my iPod across the room and incessant muttering under my breath for over twenty minutes.  I ultimately could never get past the second area and for my sanity had to put the game to rest.

For more information on Kale in Dinoland visit their official website. The iOS version can be found at the App Store for the iPhone for $0.99.

[review pros=”Retro feel, simple controls, and minimalistic” cons=”Majorly difficult, strange level design.” score=50]