Kraino (Free) by Angel Dorantes is a side-scrolling action platformer that is reminiscent of classic games like Mega Man and Castlevania. If you enjoyed other iOS games like Goblin Sword and Sword of Xolan, then Kraino is an excellent choice to consider.
As someone who grew up in the '90s with the old-school platformer games, I can definitely appreciate any new foray into the crowded App Store market of platformers. Castlevania is one of my favorite series, especially the 2D ones that were on the old Nintendo consoles and past handhelds. There's nothing more satisfying than jumping to avoid obstacles and hack-and-slashing away at hordes of undead minions. So when I saw Kraino on the App Store, I was pulled in right away — the screenshots alone made me reminisce about my childhood. Needless to say, Kraino is a must.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Kraino features a super retro, pixel art visual style that will make any '80s or '90s kid feel at home. The graphics are true to the classics that it draws inspiration from, and if I didn't know any better, I'd mistake this game for one that was on Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis. Even though it's a pixelated style, Kraino is still incredibly detailed and everything looks fantastic. The colors range from dark and gloomy tones to more vibrant and bolder hues. Animations are buttery smooth and fluid, so I experienced no issues with lag or choppy frame rates. I found the soundtrack to be fairly quirky and eerie at the same time, which means it's pretty delightful. It has a touch of metal to it, which is fitting considering there's skeletons and other baddies galore.
Kraino takes a lot of inspiration from the classic games, like Mega Man and Castlevania. There are six dungeons to make your way through, and they are rather lengthy. There are, however, checkpoints at certain points in the game, so if you die, you can pick up from the last checkpoint you reached, rather than start at the beginning. Each area features a series of connected rooms, and you must make your way through each one to face off against a tough boss at the end. The goal of the game is simple enough: hack-n-slash your way through to the end, and see how far you can get.
You'll always start the game with three lives. Controls are easy and intuitive. In the bottom left area, there are two buttons for moving left and right. In the bottom right corner of the screen are three buttons for your basic melee attack, jumping, and your ranged axe attack.
For the most part, the default button positioning works out well enough, as I had no real issues with moving around and attacking. Be warned though, because there's no way to customize the button size or positions, so you're stuck with them. Honestly, it takes a bit of practice to get used to them, but it shouldn't be too bad.
Again, you only get three lives in the game, and your health bar is displayed in the top left corner. If it's fully depleted, that means you lose a life. You also straight up lose a life if you fall onto spikes, so be careful for those. There may be opportunities for more lives or health by breaking lights and other objects, so make sure to explore every little nook and cranny. You can watch an ad to gain a continue, though, but this is completely optional. It's also the only time you'll see ads in the game.
On top of it all, there are power-up items that you can use to your advantage against the various creatures of the night (even though you're a skeleton). The power-up items are what you'd use for the ranged attack slot, and these can include throwing axes, saw blades that move along the floor and walls after you throw them, and more. They are pretty scarce though, so I'd recommend holding on to them only for boss fights, because the other enemies can easily be taken out with regular attacks.
Kraino is an excellent action platformer that's a great homage to the classics, and it's free with no strings attached.
Kraino is a true gem of a game, and it's hard to believe that something this good is free. The vintage pixel art graphics are a nice homage back to the golden days of gaming, and the music and sounds are super charming. For an action platformer, the controls work out pretty well, and it's intuitive enough for anyone. The stages themselves can get pretty challenging, and the boss fights are definitely something to look forward to.
Kraino is a solid game, but there's always improvements that can be made. For one, I hope to see customizable control options in the future, because I think being able to change the button size and positioning could help some people out. And while the only time you'll see an ad is if you want to get a continue in the game, there's no way to get rid of ads or even just support the developer (no in-app purchases). This is a freebie game where I would like to see a tip jar to contribute to.
As someone who grew up with these types of games, I am in love with Kraino. Everything about it just takes me back to my youth — the pixel art, the music, the core game mechanics, and the whole dark castle setting. It all brings a smile to my face, and I still can't believe this game is free. It's pretty high quality for the price, and there's no intrusive ads or in-app purchases, which is a rarity these days. I just hope to see controller options in the future.