Imagine the unholy union of Super Mario Bros. and Super Hexagon, and you’ll see a glimpse of the thinking behind Miles & Kilo. What in stills appears to be a sweet-natured retro-infused platformer is in fact a videogame sadist, relentlessly eager to showcase what a banana-thumbed buffoon you are. Reckon you’re a dab-hand at side-scrollers? Play this one and think again.
And yet it all begins innocently enough. Miles and his dog, Kilo, are flying when a storm brings down their plane on a remote island. Unfortunately, the place is inhabited by mean-spirited goons who grab vital bits of the downed craft and scarper. Your aim: get everything back – and not get killed. You rapidly discover both those things are very tricky indeed.
Miles & Kilo plays out as an auto-runner. Miles sprints along, and you prod the left of the screen to jump, or the right of the screen to trigger a context-sensitive action. This might involve lobbing fruit at a monkey about to belt you with a coconut, or performing a death-avoiding roll underneath massive spikes some idiot’s left nailed to a tree.
The basics are nothing you haven’t seen before on mobile, but Miles & Kilo ably differentiates itself by regularly shaking things up. Before long, you’re performing Sonic-like homing attacks on angry wildlife, zooming along on a mine cart, surfing on a lava flow, wall-jumping like a ninja, and holding on for dear life as your leashed dog zooms after a black cat. It’s colourful, giddy, compelling fun – albeit with a dash of masochism.
Death is not the end
Like any good platform game, Miles & Kilo revels in tight level design; but here it’s tight to the point that the gap between life and death is paper-thin. A fraction of a second out with a jump? Dead. Didn’t get the precise sequence of jump/action right in a particularly demanding and complex section? Dead. Haven’t quite understood the surprising level of nuance in the controls? Likely very, very dead.
To add insult to injury, reach a level’s end, having battled it for a good 15 minutes (you get infinite lives, which is just as well), and you’ll realise your time is about 30 seconds. Then the game will laugh at your pitiful effort, giving you a poor grade for having not collected all the stars along the way.
Occasionally, the difficulty level grates, especially during an arduous boss battle chasing a mummy through a cave. But when you do crack a level, you feel like a gaming god – until the next one puts you right back in your place.
Miles & Kilo is available for and iOS
A cracking mobile-optimised platform game with lashings of personality and inventiveness. But, boy, is it tough
Looks and sounds superb
Cruel but brilliant level design
Sometimes too hard for its own good