Kick & Fennick's the gaming equivalent of a warning sign. We'd never even heard of the Jaywalkers Interactive developed precision platformer when it was announced as part of February's free PlayStation Plus roster, and its smartphone-esque art style didn't exactly instil us with confidence regarding the quality of the release. Fortunately, looks can be deceiving, and there are some nifty ideas lingering beyond this package's vapid character models.
You play as the wide-eyed Kick, who looks like he's stepped straight out of a Nazi propaganda poster. His perfect blonde mop and crystal eyes deny any kind of personality, and that's fine, because beyond the fact that he happens upon a partially broken robot named Fennick, there's not an enormous amount of plot to sink your teeth into here. With a broken battery, it's up to you to escort your mechanical mate to the nearby Core Tower in the hopes of finding a new one. Oh, and you have a really big gun.
Calm down, everyone – it's not that kind of gun. Instead, we're talking about a great stonking plasma rifle, packed with plenty of recoil. The idea is that the armament can be used as a means to propel you into the air, making it a platforming instrument as much as a means of murder. You get two shots per leap, allowing you to effectively double-jump; time slows down while you're aiming, which results in some neat looking sequences, as you soar through the air lining up shots.
It's pretty fun, too, but outside of the initial thrill, the game takes a little too long to get going. It does eventually introduce treadmills, portals, and bounce pads, but by the time that you reach them, you'll be a little tired of flinging yourself around samey looking futuristic environments. It doesn't help that the level design can be a bit too complex for its own good, meaning that, while there's a pointer to guide you in the right direction, you'll find yourself a little lost at times.
Still, the stages are short, and this actually gives it a decent pick-up-and-play appeal; we'd find ourselves working through a couple of areas before bed, and then putting it down until the next day. In many ways, this helps to alleviate the tedium early on, and given the Angry Birds-esque structure of the title's five chapters, we suspect that that's how the developer intended it to be played. All in all, there's a good five hours of platforming here – and that's if you don't get stuck.
Boss encounters bookend the specific sections, in which your skills will be put to the test. While these aren't exactly frequent, they do breathe a little set piece-esque enthusiasm into the experience, and help to ensure that each part of the campaign ends with a bang. It's worth mentioning, too, that while artistically bland, this is a reasonably accomplished release from a technical perspective; Abstraction Games' logo appears during the intro, and its input is obvious, as the title runs in native resolution, and looks clean and vibrant on the handheld's screen.
Kick & Fennick is like the bass player in a band: dependable but never destined for centre stage. There are some nice ideas here, but they take a little too long to warm up. Still, while it can be a bit finicky in places, we'd recommend giving it a shot – even if you'll eventually get tired of it, and kick it out to touch.