Game Title: Kamiko
Developer: Flying Works, Skipmore, Circle Entertainment
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Download: 111 MB
Availability: Digital Download (Europe, Japan, North America)
Battery Life: 5 – 7.5 hours
Supported Modes: TV, Tabletop, Handheld
The Region-free features of the Nintendo Switch have been extremely convenient for users with demos outside of their own region, but also for games outside of their own region. Although I am awaiting the North America release of Disgaea 5 Complete, anyone can grab it from the Japan eShop and see that it has full English Voice and Text support from there. Getting the funds for that aren’t exactly easy for full-priced games, though.
Cheaper games are an entirely different story, though. Just a week or two ago, a small little Zelda-like game released on the Japanese eShop for only 500 yen, which is the equivalent of around $4 in USD. That makes importing via the eShop considerably easier, as you only need to buy a 1,000 yen eShop Card for it.
Since buying it and streaming it, I’ve had time to play through the games a few times now and am ready to jot down my thoughts in the form of a review. So, here’s my review of the Zelda-like game, Kamiko!
In Kamiko, the world is being overrun by demons. After they corrupt the majority of the world’s shrines, a Shrine Maiden is summoned by God to strike back at them. As one of 3 Legendary Shrine Maidens, you are given a powerful, mystical weapon with the power to fight back. With this weapon, you head into the world and aim to restore the shrines to their former glory.
Like some of the older Zelda games, you’re given story at the beginning and the end of the game. Basically, you are given your scenario and thrown out into the world, but the ending story does conclude things really well, as you get a decent amount of story at the end so the game isn’t void of the color of a plot.
Kamiko is a top-down action-adventure game in the vein of the old Zelda titles. In each of the game’s levels, you will be navigating 2D arenas, striving to solve puzzles while fighting through large hordes of enemies that spawn and aim to keep you from continuing to live. So, imagine a 2D Zelda without puzzles being inside dungeons as opposed to on the Overworld itself.
When starting a game, you pick one of 3 characters to play as, which is mostly a choice of what weapon you wish to use, each with its own playstyle. You have a One-Handed Sword for close combat and fast combos. The second is a Bow, meant for ranged combat and setting up shots from a distance. Finally, there’s a Boomerang and Dagger combo, where you are build around throwing your Shield to damage enemies and use close-range knife stabs until your shield returns to you. These are all different enough that they each require different strategies in fighting enemies, especially Bosses.
Game Progression basically goes with you being dropped into a stage that’s like a large dungeon. There are 4 shrines that you need to find and purify by giving some of your energy gained from defeating enemies to do so. The puzzle aspect is implemented in how you reach all of these shrines to purify them. There are locked doors, blocked paths, and more keeping you from the shrines, so you need to solve puzzles to open up these paths. This can be a matter of fighting through enemies and finding hidden paths through trees or finding a chest with a key that you need to carry around enemies in order to open a locked door.
The main difficulty of solving these puzzles isn’t in finding these paths, but making it to your goal. Whenever you have to carry an orb or key to a locked door, you cannot dash or attack enemies, plus you’ll drop the key if you get hit by an enemy. So you have to not only navigate towards your goal but you have to navigate around enemies that spawn around you without being hit, which is a difficult task to accomplish later on in the game.
Once you purify each shrine, a portal appears to take you to the Boss Room, where you can get some Energy and Heart Increasers and fight the Boss. Bosses are where combat really starts to get strategic. Instead of just mindlessly attacking enemies, bosses have certain patterns to learn when their weakness is shown and when you can exploit it. They have 3 phases like most old-school Zelda bosses. Once you defeat each boss, you’re sent to the next level and you repeat the process until the final boss.
The overall length of the game isn’t all that long, as you’d expect for a game that launched for a grand price of 500 yen. The game’s 4 levels can be completed in around an hour. I ran through the game with each character. The first run was a little more than an hour, but the second runs only took around 50 minutes. It’s not a long game at all.
Controlling the game is pretty easy. You don’t really have a lot to worry about. You actually only have to use a few buttons on the switch to control the game. Dash is the main button you can customize which is set at B to default, but you can set it to a lot more buttons from the Main Menu.
To move, you can use either the Left Analog Stick or the Directional Buttons. Dashing is done with the B button (but can also be set to a considerable amount of buttons, including any of the 4 triggers) and attacking/interactive with doors and chests is done with the A and Y buttons. Finally, the menu can be brought up with the X or + buttons.
Really, it’s easy to learn, but one big inconvenience is the X button being used for the menu with such a hack n slash atmosphere. As I played the game, I found that I frequently would accidentally tap X while slashing through enemies and it would open up the menu time and time again. If you watch the stream I did of the game, you’ll see it happen and me comment on it a lot. Considering all the mashing you’ll be doing on the A/Y buttons, the menu really should’ve been kept for the + button.
Visually, the game has a retro look to it. Everything is pixel-based and that feel really shines throughout the game. Every pixel is perfectly-rendered and looks smooth no matter what mode you’ve got your Switch in. It looks dated, but it’s really refined and looks nice.
Performance I have no issues with. Loading is short, frame drops never happen. It’s optimized just as well as it looks.
Kamiko brought me incredible results when I did the Battery Tests. This is the game you show to all of the people out there that think the Switch has low Battery Life. Here are the times I got from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 00 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 16 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 36 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 7 hours, 30 minutes
You read that last one correctly. You can squeeze seven and a half hours of battery life out of the Switch with this nice, little 2D game. That’s incredible. You’re definitely gonna get a ton of time on the go with Kamiko.
In conclusion, Kamiko is a very cute Zelda-inspired 2D game. It's not a long game and the controls can get a little irritating with X opening up the menu, but this nice little gem is releasing in the West soon and for only a few bucks, it's a great little time-waster.