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Nikoderiko Feels Like A Satisfying Mashup Of All Your Favorite Old-School Platformers

Playing the hits.

Vibrant game illustration showing a cartoon lion surfing a wave in a lush, animated jungle filled wi...
Knights Peak

PlayStation’s Astro Bot recently made a splash at the State of Play showcase, but it isn’t the only promising platformer to be revealed in the past few weeks. Buried amongst the avalanche of announcements from Summer Game Fest was the reveal of Nikoderiko: The Magical World, an upcoming platformer that looks like an homage to some of the best games in the genre with a charm all its own.

Nikoderiko is being published by Knights Peak, a new division of My.Games, which focuses on PC and console releases, rather than the company’s usual mobile games. A showcase from Knights Peak revealed that Casper Van Dien (Johnny Rico in the Starship Troopers movie) will be joining the cast of the Starship Troopers: Extermination FPS and indie Soulslike Mandragora is also joining the label, but Nikoderiko was the announcement that really caught my eye.

Nikoderiko is a charming platforming that mixes 2D and 3D stages.

Taking clear cues from platformers like Rayman and Banjo Kazooie, Nikoderiko isn’t looking to re-invent the wheel. Instead, it’s shaping up to be a throwback to classic platformers, combining the genre’s sense of style and whimsy with some of the best mechanics from classic games — plus a soundtrack from celebrated Donkey Kong Country composer David Wise.

In Nikoderiko, you play as one of a pair of mongoose protagonists (or both, in two-player co-op) named Niko and Luna, battling an evil capitalist snake in a top hat. In a press-only demo I played after the game’s reveal, I faced off against a menagerie of his minions across three levels of escalating difficulty. The first level feels a bit more like a showcase of what Nikoderiko has to offer than a challenge on its own, but by the final stage of the demo, things heat up considerably, with a giant mech pursuing and lobbing bombs at your character for most of the stage.

Before reaching that point, though, Nikoderiko has a lot to show off. Name a feature you associate with classic platformers and you’ll probably find it in Nikoderiko. Riding on the back of animals with unique abilities? You’ve got a jumping frog, a charging boar, and a T-rex that chomps enemies. Hidden bonus stages? Levels are littered with secret paths and cannons that shoot you off to challenge rooms. Trinkets to gather? Nikoderiko has more collectibles than you’ll know what to do with, from treasure maps to keys to letter titles spelling N-I-K-O. It all gives off the feeling that you’re playing the third game in a series, with a stack of mechanics so high it’s threatening to tumble over — but for now it’s just a lot of fun.

Nikoderiko is a new platformer bursting with old-school charm.

Knights Peak

The highlight of the demo for me came when I realized that Nikoderiko’s 2D levels are hiding a big secret. A reveal trailer for the game shows some 3D sections, with characters running away from or toward the camera, Crash Bandicoot-style. I figured these segments might be reserved for bosses or discrete levels, but that’s not the case. At several points in the demo, I came to what looked like a dead-end on a 2D level, only to realize that I could now head through a door in the background, seamlessly transforming the game from two dimensions to three. More than just an impressive trick, the switch does a lot to keep Nikoderiko feeling fresh, breaking up the action into equally fun 2D and 3D portions.

Nikoderiko’s ability to keep me on my toes was impressive. I never knew what new twist the demo was going to throw at me next, and replaying levels multiple times continually yielded secrets I’d failed to find earlier. At the most basic gut level, its platforming is satisfying, with jumps and slides that just feel good to control, even if your default run speed is a tad slow.

Seamless transitions from 2D to 3D keep Nikoderiko fresh.

Knights Peak

My only real reservation about Nikoderiko is how it will carve out a niche of its own. Its deft melding of different mechanics and playstyles is excellent, but what I played feels like it’s missing some signature element that stands out from every other platformer. Everything in the game is well-made and fun — I just haven’t gotten a sense of Nikoderiko’s unique identity, outside of sheer variety.

Maybe that will be revealed by playing more of the game, or maybe its wild mix of different ideas will be enough to truly set it apart when you’re playing more than three levels. Though it doesn’t have a solid release date, Nikoderiko is expected by the end of the year. And when it does, I’m looking forward to scouring every inch of its well-crafted levels to find that missing piece.

Nikoderiko will be released on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC in late 2024.

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