Monday, January 16, 2012

Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril is, simply put, the most difficult game ever produced for the Nintendo Entertainment System. For those unfamiliar with Battle Kid, let me cast some light by showing it's title screen:

Battle Kid Title Screen

Still unsure what sets Battle Kid apart from every other NES title? Let me channel my inner CSI: "Zoom and Enhance!"

Battle Kid Copyright

Battle Kid Box ArtThat's right, Sivak Games developed Battle Kid and released it for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 2010, a full 15 years after the previous NES release.  The plot is intentionally thin to the point of non-existence: our protagonist (Timmy) must venture into the Fortress of Peril to disengage a 'supermech' machine and stop a group of shadowy ne'er-do-wells.

When Battle Kid declares itself a Fortress of Peril,  the game isn't effing around. Modeled after the PC Freeware Game I Wanna Be the Guy, Battle Kid is an S&M Fetish of a  game: designed to be intentionally painful and difficult. Gameplay most closely resembles Metroid--with a large open world to explore and very little prompting--except Timmy's suit of armor--as opposed to Samus'--is quite porous. Spikes kill Timmy. Aliens kill Timmy. Blobs kill Timmy. Plants kill Timmy. Fish kill Timmy. Even limes and lemons kill Timmy (yes, lemons). It's 1-hit death from start to finish. Here's a small taste of Battle Kid's Horror:

Death Montage
The game offers varying modes of difficulty: Easy Mode allows infinite lives, provides passwords and starts Timmy with a gun power-up (and pink armor). Unfair Mode, on the other hand, pits Timmy against the Fortress of Peril with only his wits: no continues, no saves, one hit and its over. Make no mistake, though, even on Easy Mode, Battle Kid is grueling. Continue points pepper the fortress, but they're spaced like oases in the Sahara; only the lucky can navigate from one to the next.

FoP SpikesA point-by-point review of Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril would make for comparative War and Peace blog post, so let me summarize: Timmy kills things (and gets killed), picks up keys and various powerups as he wends through the hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing perils of the eponymous fortress. All bosses bested, Timmy comes to a massive--and mostly impossible--warmech robot (shown above). It's defeat provides one of two rather unsatisfying endings, neither of which I'll spoil.

None of that really matters, because Battle Kid is fun as hell. It's a giant wooden roller-coaster and you're in the back car being whipped around like a rag doll. The moment you get off, head aching and neck stiff, it's a race to get back in line to ride again. Not many make 'em like this anymore, and certainly none can even hope to match the difficulty of Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril.

That is, until the release of it's sequel, Battle Kid 2: Mountain of Torment.

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