Kid Kool (NES)

Kid Kool Box Art

Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs

System: NES

Release Date: March 1990

Developer: Vic Tokai

Publisher: Vic Tokai

Genre: Platformer

Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs is the NES version of the superior Master System game, Psycho Fox. King Voldam has been stricken with a disease that will lead to his demise in three days. With fear of an invasion from their enemies, Kid Kool appears and is bullied by the chamberlain into helping out. Kid Kool must run, jump, and throw Wicky through seven lands with three levels in each.

Kid Kool doesn’t have an attack, unless he happens to have found Wicky. Then he can throw his friend with a press of the B Button. Items can be uncovered by running full speed through small tufts of grass. These include Wicky; an item that increases the time by one minute; one that decreases time by one minute; a bottle that makes you invincible for a short period of time; a clock that pauses the timer for a moment; and a doll that consumes enemies on the screen. There are also hidden money bags that you jump into ala Mario. It’s super annoying to be running and going for a jump, just to get your trajectory messed up by a money bag. These money bags are used after each level in a mini-game where you can earn free lives with good timing.

Running and jumping is based on momentum. This might sound like a neat idea, but when you don’t have much room to get a running start, jumps become an exercise in frustration. Really, movement is sluggish and unresponsive overall, without anything to make it better. You can skip across water for a moment if you’re running full speed. There are poles that you can jump into and fly through the air by using, but you need lots of speed for it to work. Miss a jump by a pixel and you’ll be dead, typically by an enemy. There are multiple paths through each level, typically a high road, medium road, and low road. They tend to follow difficulty in that order.

The obstacles you run into through the game are more annoying than anything. The air pushers drove me nuts early in the game and they didn’t get any better throughout. The desert level has steps that turn into a ramp, which messes up your movement. Killing enemies by jumping on them is imprecise and leads to getting hit when you probably shouldn’t. Having Wicky on your shoulder gives you an extra hit before you die, but if you throw him and get touched, even if he’s a pixel away, you dies.

The end of each land has a boss battle that unlocks an herb you need when you win. The bosses require you to jump on a… thingy… until it touches the ground. There is a timer counting up in the corner of the screen. Remember, the king will be dead in three days, each an hour in real life. The color of the sky changes with the time, which is neat. How long you take to beat the game will give you one of five different endings. If you beat it in under an hour and a half, you get the best result, including a princess!

Graphics: 1.5

I certainly wouldn’t call the graphics pleasant. They’re serviceable at best. The screen having to move up and down and pause the action is annoying.

Sound: 2.0

The music sounds very much like Clash at Demonhead, but more repetitive.

Gameplay: 1.0

The momentum based gameplay isn’t fun and there aren’t other powers or anything to play with.

Difficulty: 1.5

Some of these jumps are hard. You get unlimited continues, though, and a generous time limit, so you can get through it.

Fun Factor: 1.0

It was more of a hate playthrough than an enjoyable one.

Overall Grade: 1.4

Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs earns a D+. Not a game that I’m going to recommend you play.

Kid Kool Video Review on YouTube