If you wanted to see where Kraino gets its inspiration from, just buy yourself a SNES Mini and boot up Super Castlevania IV or Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts.
Either that or dust off your old Vita and check out retrotastic indie gem Rogue Legacy.
The point is we’re in familiar action-platformer territory with Kraino. It’s a pretty decent tribute, as it turns out.
Dying in style
The game casts you as a top-hatted, armour-wearing skeleton dude. It wasn’t particularly clear to me as to why, but such things rarely matter in games like this.
Our bony hero runs from left to right through familiar platforming levels, slashing horror-themed baddies with his sword and lobbing the odd projectile for good measure.
Certain items of level furniture can be destroyed to reveal health pick-ups and a number of projectile attacks, from fireballs to looping axe-throws.
Angel Dorantes has got the feel of Kraino‘s action more or less spot on. Clear, well calibrated virtual controls combine with a steady pace and well spread-out enemies to ensure that there’s little of the frustration that can accompany mobile platformers.
Indeed, you could argue that the levels are a little too sparse and simple to sail through. They certainly seem to lack that hard-to-define spark in their design.
Still, they’re ideally laid out for semi-attentive mobile play, where you can idly blast through one micro-challenge at a time.
That’s until you reach the boss, at any rate.
At the end of each themed level – which only lasts a few minutes on a clean run – you’ll face a tough boss who will generally mop the floor with you the first handful of tries.
This sudden ramp up in difficulty can be a bit of a jolt after the cake-walk of the preceding level. Still, the name of the game here is pattern recognition rather than ninja skill, so if you’re persistent you’ll eventually figure out a winning strategy.
A special note should be made of how Kraino looks. It has the kind of nicely detailed ’16-bit-plus’ look that modern indie platformers have aced – nodding to the past but with way more whizzy colours and effects.
All in all, Kraino is a thoroughly entertaining action platformer. Its simplistic level design lacks the depth and the super-tight thrills of the games that inspired it, but for a quick blast on the go it’s a lot of fun.