One of the many mistakes that Nintendo made with the Wii U was its lack of third party support and attention to indie titles. With the release of their newest console, the Switch, Nintendo promised to offer a wider selection of indie titles. Thankfully, Nintendo has already made good on its promise.
Kamiko is a small, retro-styled action arcade title created by Flyhigh Works. It is available on the Nintendo eShop for a the lofty sum of $4.99 USD. Kamiko follows three main characters as they battle demons and unseal the various shrines scattered throughout its four levels. Each level has its own boss, hidden item, and unique look to help separate it from the others. There are small puzzles scattered throughout the levels to help add an extra level of challenge.
The three main characters are shrine maidens from various families, each with their own play style and power attack. Yamato, from the water shrine, uses a sword and can deliver a devastating spin attack. Uzume, from the forest, has a bow for long ranged attacks and can rain a shower of arrows onto the screen. Finally, Hinome from the fire shrine, gets a mirror for mid ranged attacks and a short sword. She can send the mirror flying around her to destroy all the enemies in an area.
Kamiko has deep cultural roots in Japanese folklore. The art style, characters, music, and story is heavily steeped in Shinto beliefs. Unfortunately, a lot is lost in translation. Unless you are Japanese or have a detailed, working knowledge of the Japanese culture, a lot of the imagery and themes of the game gets lost. Ultimately, this dampens the experience of the game for western audiences.
Kamiko doesn’t have a lot to say, at least not directly. The cutscenes are short. The sparse dialogue is pure exposition. Most of the clues about what’s going on are visual. While many of them are easy enough to understand, having a Shinto background would certainly help. This isn’t to say that the game is bad. Far from it. But it does make understanding what is happening more difficult.
To be quite frank, I forgot what the purpose of the game was about halfway through the first level. The story is severely lacking and is barebones at best. Plus, it took me only a couple hours to defeat all four levels my first time around. By the time I had completed the game with the final girl, it took me less than 40 minutes from start to finish. Nothing really changed either. The only difference was how I played. Otherwise, the levels, enemies, story, and bosses were the same for all three girls.
Although I’ve criticized the game a little harshly, Kamiko is worth the money. Despite its short length and nearly absent story, the game was a lot of fun to play. It’s simple and easy. The levels didn’t get boring, even after my third time through them. Plus, the menu entices you with a “????” selection on the main screen. This encourages players to really look for the little secrets that in order to unlock this option.
If Kamiko were any more expensive then I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. However, the small price point is appropriate for such a small, but fun game. It looks great, plays well, and sounds pretty. While it’s not any kind of Earth-shattering title, it’s a nice little title to add to your Switch collection. It’s a not a great game, but it’s worth checking out.