Review: Boo! Greedy Kid

When a game opens with a splash screen warning that it is a stupid video game, followed by a plea to teach real world kids to be good people, you know upfront you’re in for a silly experience not to be taken too seriously.

Boo! Greedy Kid, from the NeuroVoider creators at Flying Oak Games, doesn’t disappoint in that regard, living up to its own self-deprecation by channeling oldies like Bonanza Bros. and Neighbors From Hell as a retro stealth-lite action game about a little boy of the Dennis the Menace youthful troublemaker archetype, who’s so consumed by the carbonated devil’s nectar known as soda pop that he sets out to terrorize wheelchair-bound and cane-toting grannies and grandpas into coughing up their loose cash and pocket change so he can hit the vending machine hard and stockpile a hoard of his favorite fizzy drink.

Presented as a cross-section view of a building, the game has you controlling the soda crazed brat through 99 stages (plus what appears to be a secret 100th stage I haven’t figured out how to unlock yet), tasked with navigating increasingly labyrinthine maps through color-coded doors while frightening all of the old folks out of their cash in order to open the exit elevator to the next floor. Creeping up from behind and yelling “Boo!” causes the targeted fogey to keel over and spill his or her money. One scare is enough to take out some of the targets, but many go into a momentary rage after the first fright and need a second startle to go all the way down for the count. The elderly enemies are normally harmless, but once enraged they become charging, arthritic bulls that damage the boy on contact and make him drop any money collected up to that point. Losing all three hit point hearts in a stage results in a game over.

From this foundation the game, for maybe the first third of its progression at least, proceeds to throw a few new wrinkles at you. Nurses wander around capable of reviving old farts from terror-induced coma. Deciding whether or not to take nurses out or leave them be is a tactical choice: It takes up more time and focus, but you do get a health pack for the trouble, as well as the peace of mind that no one’s going to be coming back from the dead on you. Patrolling police guards begin to populate the maps, chasing and attacking the boy on sight with clubs or guns. Guards can be avoided by dodge rolling through them or slipping behind context-sensitive hiding spots like chairs, toilet stalls, and grandfather clocks until they’ve turned to look the other direction. Ducking behind cover is a good way to avoid a stampeding blue-hair, too.

Eventually a time mechanic gets added to the mix, introducing a sense of creeping urgency in the form of a timer bar along the bottom of the screen. If you fail to reach the exit before the icon scrolls from the left side to the warning sign on the right side, extra reinforcements siege the map, SWAT style, to hunt you down. Robocop even makes an appearance as an insta-kill enemy, splattering the boy’s bloody 8-bit entrails across the screen in a single shot.

Some minimal stealth tactics are required, but in no way should you expect anything too persistent from the AI, as the guards immediately give up pursuit as soon as line of sight is broken, or other stealth-centric elements like sound meters or field of vision cones to overcomplicate things. The emphasis is on evasion and quick, snappy movement rather than plodding espionage.

That said, there are a few fun mechanics that can be mastered for a subtle layer of devious strategy. Doorways dividing rooms along the map’s Y axis can be opened and closed on command, helpful for breaking line of sight or using as a form of trap, slamming the door shut on a charging hostile to stun them out of their rage. Dodge rolling through an open doorway, depending on which side you’re entering from, also slams it shut, which is a helpful move to deploy when danger is tight on your tail. The door trick becomes even more satisfying and hilarious when you use the taunt ability, making the kid pull down his pants and shimmy his bare pixel art booty to lure NPCs into giving chase.

The game’s 99 stages only take an hour or so to guzzle down on the first chug, but there’s a built-in reward system that adds solid replay value for perfectionists. Performance on each level is scored on a 3-star rating scale: One star is awarded just for reaching the exit; a second star can be earned for finishing with a specified dollar amount (which equates to beating the stage without getting hit); and a third can be earned by eclipsing a given speedrun time limit. Upon completing the game my initial inclination wasn’t to immediately go back and begin trying to increase my star count, but now that I have started to sink more time in the speedrun aspect in particular has become surprisingly addictive. While luck of the draw can factor in to whether you succeed or fail to beat the clock–the NPCs always start in the same places but follow different pathfinding routines on each retry, so the randomization can either work in your favor or put you at a disadvantage–the smooth simplicity of the controls and the focused objective make for a peppy pace of play that keeps you dangling on that one-more-try hook like a classic arcade game.

Another potential area of long-term value is the provided level editor integrated with Steam Workshop community sharing. Obviously the game’s just coming out, though, so the community hasn’t had a chance to build up and populate with content.

On the down side, it doesn’t take long for the game to run out of new ideas and flat line a bit in terms of difficulty. The game’s limited set of mechanics and strategies get introduced fairly quickly, diminishing the sense of ongoing evolution as you work through the last half of the level progression. The maps grow in size and complexity as far as containing more intricate layouts and floors that extend beyond the boundaries of a single screen, but the makeup of the levels, and the approach required to complete them, stays largely the same. The level of difficulty nudges up in spots, but the base game is pretty easy if you play just to get through and reach the end. Only when choosing to embrace the increased challenge of the star goals does the game offer stiffer resistance.

Like a fresh can of soda, Boo! Greedy Kid is a bubbly delight, thanks to its crisp, sugary pixel art and humor, uptempo chiptunes, and singularly focused gameplay that provides a sweet, snappy pop of fun, better for short bursts of instant gratification over long-lasting sustenance. For added laughs, the game can be voice controlled using a headset, enabling you to “Boo!” into the microphone to have the punk kid unleash his in-game scream. This is a cute gimmick that perfectly plays up the game’s silly tone, though tapping a button ultimately proves to be far easier and more reliable than constantly yelling at your computer screen like a rambunctious kid hopped up on cola.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Simple, well executed gameplay hook
+ Twerk taunt into door slam trap is always a hoot
+ Cute, colorful pixel art and animation
+ Optional star goals add replay depth for speedrunners and completionists

Cons:
– Limited level variation and difficulty curve
– Speedrun attempts sometimes seem more dependent on fortune than skill

Game Info:
Platform: PC
Publisher: Flying Oak Games, Plug In Digital
Developer: Flying Oak Games
Release Date: 2/22/2018
Genre: Action
Players: 1

Source: A Steam key for Boo! Greedy Kid was provided to VGBlogger.com for review consideration by Flying Oak Games.

Buy From: Steam for $4.99 (plus 20% off until March 1).

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!