He's back! And this time he's completely different!

Kid Gloves 2: The Journey Back logo

MILLENNIUM * £24.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

This isn't really Kid Gloves 2, y'know. Not originally anyway. This little platformer started life last year as a game called Little Beau. But it was such a crap name for a game that the company responsible spontaneously combusted and left poor old Beau wandering about in software limbo.

Then Millennium came along, and rescued the little bugger. They tarted him up, buffed up his helmet and redubbed him Kid Gloves 2. Despite the fact that he hasn't got any gloves.

Just one look at the graphics and you know exactly what you're in for. Millions of other games spring to mind - Mario, Rainbow Islands, Mega Man, Alex Kidd, Mega Twins, New Zealand Story, the list goes on and on and on. Cutesy platform romps, with all the usual trimmings, kidnapped princesses, end-of-level baddies, power-ups, hidden goodies - it's all here.

Where Kid Gloves 2 falls flat is that as well as being derivative, it lacks the glossiness that makes, for instance, Mega Twins a good laugh. It looks and plays like an 8-bit Nintendo reject.
You just can imagine some spotty, gum chewing MTV generation Yankee nerd playing this while listening to the new Paula Abdul album. Not the sort of ultra hi-tech home computer entertainment us smug, superior, stiff upper lip Amiga owners are used to.

There are some attempts to beef it up with the inclusion of little arcade subgames and one-armed bandits lurking in the scenery, and while this is a nice idea it doesn't really offer anything of use - especially since I've got a nasty feeling that the fruit machines are a bit rigged. And the arcade machines are pretty crap as well.

The graphics are, as you can guess, cute. But cute in an old-fashioned way. The sprites lack the crisp, colourful definition of their rivals and as such leave the game feeling a bit dated.
Another rather odd graphical feature is the lack of any backgrounds. At least, any backgrounds worth noticing. Lots of white dots for snow is about all you'll get on the first level, and it only gets a bit better as you go on. It all looks a bit sparse.

Sound is actually quite nice. There's yer standard cute platform game boings and beeps, but there's also some pretty nifty speech when you pick items up. For instance, when you collect some wine, Kid emits an ecstatic 'yum yum!'. It's a nice little touch, and it does give the game a teeny bit of much needed Pzazz!

But Kid Gloves 2's problem is that it brings nothing new to an already overstocked genre. Mega Twins manages to justify its existence by being slickly programmed and by having a great two-player mode, but the Kid (nee Beau) would probably have been happier if he'd been left to wander about in software limbo last year.

Who knows, maybe he could've met up with Monty Mole and Miner Willy and formed an obsolete platform characters club. But they probably wouldn't have him. They're very strict about things like that.

Kid Gloves 2: The Journey Back logo

A long time ago (well back in 1990, but that is an aeon ago in the fast-moving world of game publishing) the kid with the magic boxing gloves made his debut appearance on the Amiga. He was fast, he was cute and he was colourful. The only reservations that anyone had about the game was that the jumping, platform and collect-em-up formula was even then all a bit on the dated side. So here we are in brand-spanking new 1992, with more of the same expect another two long years down the line.

So does this mean Kid Gloves 2 is automatically doomed to be past its best-before date? Happily, not quite. Why? Well, a new programming and design team have dedicated time to revamping the graphics and souping up the gameplay. The end result is that they have created an entirely new adventure that manages to hold its cute little head up in 1992 The beauty of it, though, is that they haven't lost the spark of the original game.

The Kid does some growing up
Instead of the Manic Miner-style screen-to-screen format, the backgrounds now scroll to accommodate the Kid's movement. The sprites are now larger and more detailed, and graphically this second-generation Kid is vastly superior to his predecessor. The Kid's movement has calmed down (he can't ump anywhere near as far) and the whole affair looks remarkably like a solo outing of one of the Mega Twins.

Kid is hot on the trail of the evil wizard Wievallard, who's kidnapped (no pun intended) his girlfriend. So our boy, armed with only a dagger and a liberal splashing of Hero aftershave, gives chase through six stages (each one has four levels however) of baddie-infested scenery.

There are loads of devious traps and pitfalls lurking in Kid's path. On the other hand, there are absolutely masses of collectibles just scattered around to improve your chances of success. Springs, moving platforms and collapsing bridges - all do their dastardly best to keep your reflexes stretched and your interest held.

Arcade-style sub-games intersperse the action, as the Kid cuts his cutesy swathe through some of the sweetest baddies that you ever did see. Kid Gloves 2 contains all the essential elements that are needed for a decent cutesy platform game, plus a few more thrown in for good measure.

Is there really a new Kid in town?
The whole game looks right, plays good and has enough 'extras' (new weapons, collectable objects, magic spells and sub-games) to breath life into the basic platform-game formula. But there's still nothing new to add to this genre.

Kid Gloves 2 is basically just a hybrid of all the classic, cutesy platform romps of recent years. If you liked Rodland and Mega Twins, or if you have fond memories of the original Kid Gloves, then you won't be disappointed. But with so many of the classic platform games released at budget price (check out the Budget Pages 84-85) at the moment, it may be worth your while to look there instead.

Der zweite handschuh passt!

Kid Gloves 2: The Journey Back logo

Sich an den Vorganger zu erinnern, macht Mühe - nicht nur, weil es schon anderthalb Jahre zurückliegt, sondern weil man ihn nicht ohne Grund vergessen hat! Aber wozu das Gedachtnis strapazieren, die Ähnlichkeiten beschranken sich hier ohnehin auf den Namen.

Tatsächlich hat Kid Gloves 2 vom Spielprinzip her mehr mit den diversen "Wonderboy"-Games gemeinsam als mit seinem eigenen Vorganger: Die Wunderjungen besitzen schließlich eins der anerkannt besten Konzepte aus dem Plattformsektor, warum sollte man Millenium also die "geistige anleihe" verübeln?

Und weil wir gerade so schön beim großzügigen Drüberwegsehen sind, machen wir das auch gleich mit der einfallslosen Story - oder wollt Ihr wirklich wissen, warum diesmal ein böser Magier die Freundin des Helden entführt hat???

Die Damen-Wiederbeschaffungs-Tournee beginnt am Nordpol, führt sechs Level mit je vier Unterabschnitten und endet erwartungsgemaß im Schloß des "zauberhaften" Kidnappers.

Gelaufen, gehüpft und gekämpft wird in typischer "Wonderboy"-Manier: Der Mini-Held haut mit dolch, Schwert oder Axt auf die Gegner ein, die nach ihrem Hinscheiden Münzen, nützliche Extras oder auch mal 'ne Pulle Gift hinterlassen.

Das ganze wird aufgepeppt durch Sonderwaffen zum Aufsammeln (z.B. Feuerbälle), Ballons zum Herumfliegen, Endgegner und Boni; zwischendurch kann man auch an einem einarmigen Banditen zocken.

Grafik und Sound sind zuckersüß, aber technisch ohne Fehl und Tadel (z.B. prima Scrolling); selbst an der einfach zu bedienenden Joysticksteuerung gibt's nichts auszusetzen. Genau das richtige Spiel fur "Wonderboy"-Fans und andere Plattform-Nostalgiker!(mm)

Kid Gloves 2: The Journey Back logo

Kid Gloves 2? Nice one! I don't care what anyone says, I thought Kid Gloves was a brilliant little game, and the sudden unheralded appearance of a sequel was as pleasant a surprise as I've had for a while. Or so I thought, anyway.

On actually loading it up, I was somewhat dismayed to discover that it is, in fact, a retitled release of a game which was widely previewed several months ago as Little Beau from, I think, Digital Magic. Still, that doesn't necessarily mean it's crap, so let's check it our further.

Hmm... extremely derivative Super Wonder Boy rip-off (then again Super Wonder Boy was a brilliant game, so that needn't be a bad thing)... very crude graphics, although they're quite cute in a brash cartoony sort of way.... really horrible inertia on the character movement...

A few nasty bits where you can get into a situation where death is the only escape... main character is spookily reminiscent of Bub and Bob from Rainbow Islands, but with a crap haircut... sound's a bit on the twee and grating side... lots of distinct graphic styles... seems to be aimed at the younger player, but there are rather a lot of gratuitous nipples for that... gets reasonably tricky, but not in any interesting kind of way... bears no resemblance to the original Kid Gloves... the odd sub-game breaks up the repetitiveness... it's moderately entertaining, but creaks as a full-Price product... hmm indeed.

Kid Gloves 2 really is a bare-faced clone of Super Wonder Boy, but it retains most of the gameplay elements that made that game such a laugh. Unfortunately KG2 is a lot less sophisticated in both design and execution, and without the charming atmosphere of the earlier title the compulsion to play it for long periods of time is somewhat missing.

In general it feels like a very half-hearted and half-finished effort, and while it's undeniably quite good fun to plod away at for a while, it doesn't justify the same price tag as in a million years.