Survival Kids is a game released on the Game Boy Color in 1999. It wasn’t a big hit, not in the US at least… though I found the survival concept interesting, nobody I knew had even heard of it and it never seemed to be in stock at nearby stores. Still, it was an interesting game, and the series actually continues to this day under the name Lost in Blue. If you’ve played those, well, this is the game that started it all.
Regardless of which gender you choose, the story is the same. You and your father are on a boat celebrating your birthday. Apparently your dad thinks a knife is an appropriate gift for a 10-year-old because he’s “adventurous”. Sounds more like he’s fucking crazy, but hey, that’s just me. Anyway, a storm causes the boat to capsize, and you’re stranded on an island.
And so the game begins. Your goal, of course, is survival… hunting, scavenging, and foraging for food and supplies while braving the elements. You don’t start out completely empty-handed… you find your rucksack pretty quickly, containing your knife and a broken radio, and you’ll find a canteen not far from where you start. Of course, the knife is crucial not only for cutting away plants blocking your path, but for hunting and self defense as well.
Fortunately, there’s a nearby abandoned hut that you can use as shelter. This is where you save and store unneeded items; in addition, you can sleep here, which is crucial for restoring your fatigue. Sleeping will end the day, and wake you up the following morning. The day also keeps track of how many days you’ve survived for, though I don’t think it matters too much.
Items can be combined to make a variety of tools, such as a fishing rod, bow, and axe. The game doesn’t really tell you what can be combined though, so you’ll need to use trial and error. Many of these tools are necessary for completing the game, and given your very small inventory, making good use of the hut’s item storage is mandatory.
Combat is not unlike the Legend of Zelda series. Stronger enemies can wipe you out quickly in short range, and it’s good to have a bow and arrow for this reason. At any rate, murdering the shit out of animals gives you meat, which needs to be cooked before you can eat it. Conveniently, all animals seem to give the same big-ass hunk of meat, which restores quite a bit of health. However, regardless of whether it’s cooked or now, meat goes bad very quickly, so you can’t really stock up on it. There’s lots of fruits, mushrooms, and grasses throughout, but they don’t restore as much hunger and, of course, some can be quite bad for you. However, you can find spices and seasonings that will preserve your meat, making it last longer. (giggle)
The island is a hazardous place, but thankfully the game doesn’t go overboard with the difficulty. One downside, however, is the small inventory… often you’ll have to choose between bringing your bow and arrow along to deal with the tougher enemies, or leave it behind to make room in your inventory. Your knife is pretty much always necessary to have with you, but isn’t very effective against goddamn bears.
The game’s first ending can be acquired pretty quickly. You’ll find a battery that can be used to fix your radio and, if you keep checking it, you’ll eventually hear a broadcast that there’s a rescue team looking for survivors. If you fail to listen to the broadcast and go to bed, you’ll hear that the search has been called off for some reason, leading to the true ending… but perhaps more on that some other time.
Hearing that there’s a rescue team looking for him, young ASS decides to build an SOS sign on the beach. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have just done that in the first place, just in case, but whatever. Two days later, a helicopter arrives, and he’s saved. Turns out his father had already been rescued, so all is well.
I’m not entirely sure why this ending is even in the game. Aside from it not being the proper ending, it’s difficult to figure out on your own… you’d need to know to keep checking the radio until you hear the proper broadcast (this can take a while), and to not go to bed until you do. But hey, whatever.
Survival Kids is a pretty good game, though a simplistic one with a relatively small scale. Of course, this was an early game in the survival genre… since then, there’s been plenty of more in-depth games, like Stranded II and even Minecraft. As for Survival Kids, as stated earlier it became the Lost in Blue series, which seems to get worse with each installment. Maybe it’s time to cast the series out to sea for good.