The hero of any epic adventure would normally be given an equally epic name. The Greeks had Hercules and Achilles given to their mightiest, whilst the big screen has Indiana Jones and Tony Stark. There aren’t many heroes called Nigel, Karen, or even Chris though. At least not until now.
Adventures of Chris takes this premise of an ordinary kid who is a bit overweight, a bit nerdy, and needs a puff on the asthma inhaler when he tries to jump. What happens when this ordinary kid goes on an extraordinary big adventure? Well, there’s a lot of comedy to be had – as well as a lot of platforming too. Let’s join Team Chris.
Adventures of Chris will let you choose your difficulty at the start of the game, from normal, to really hard. There is also a story mode which ensures that you are invincible and can’t die; something which is sorely tempting but goes against the nature of a platform adventure where the whole point of the game is completing a level through skill. But be warned, the family-friendly platformer vibes that come off this game shouldn’t be trusted – this is hard as nails and requires amazing platforming skills and cat-like reflexes.
The story follows our hero, Chris, your average fifteen-year-old kid found walking home from school in the mid-1990s; a setting that is the game’s main influence. There is a nice quirky and funny tutorial that takes place here, before Chris is transported away from home into a strange magical world. An evil prince turns Chris into a huge balloon and from there he escapes into the clouds, meets some magical beings that train him to fight, makes the most of his balloon skills, and then is sent on an epic quest around the world to find extra magical skills to battle the evil prince.
The story of Adventures of Chris is quite original and a lot of fun is had with the hugely over-the-top characters and strange mystical beings. It’s like walking into a cartoon series with its bright colours and family-friendly text and story. In fact, the kids will like the world – and should hopefully be on point enough to be able to tackle the tricky gameplay on offer.
Adventures of Chris works like a normal 2D platformer; at least in the opening stages. You can jump and hang onto ledges before pulling yourself up. Enemies appear, like spiders and bats which you can punch should you be able to get the timing completely right. You come with a certain amount of lives too, and can only get hit a few times so will need to be aware. But then you become a balloon, utilising the skills of balloon mode, floating up into the air and dropping back down. There are also levels in which the gravity is reversed and you are jumping across cloud levels backwards, combining your skills with split-second timings.
Each place you visit around the world – nicely, in any order you want – will see you gain a special power at the end; like a fireball punch that sends a projectile from your fists. The levels in each location have a boss battle and main enemy you have to kill in order to get this, and it’s here where The Adventures of Chris begins to get tricky. Expect a lot of repetition if your skill level is not up to par.
Overall, the gameplay comes with some clever game design, but can be very tricky and at times a bit unforgiving. This is also very much a retro game at heart with level design and platforming elements much like a Mega Man game; a clear influence.
It’s the 1990’s influence which powers Adventures of Chris, with its bright cartoony colour scheme and characters. I think the animation of Chris himself is very well done and there’s certainly been a loveable, relatable character created here. The environments you travel through are clever in terms of what is done with them too. For example, in LA you’ll find yourself on the highway, jumping between cars and battling a smog monster. From there, the music is fine and the effects all work within the template of what you would expect of a 1990’s inspired platformer.
Adventures of Chris is a good little platformer that references its 90’s influences to the hilt. It has a funny, cartoony story that is family-friendly and enjoyable, even if the gameplay pushes things difficulty-wise.
Adventures of Chris is available from the Xbox Store