Kika & Bob
Kika & Bob is a fast- paced and funny children’s animated TV-series, with online interactive TV games! It aired on international television in Europe but I was only involved at the start when it aired by Submarine on Dutch National television. The first season had 26 episodes from February until March 2008, each episode with its own online interactive game. I was envolved as junior game designer and mostly worked on timing and level design, but with actual game design for some games of the games.
Smart seven-year-old Kika and brave fireman Bob are blown to the other side of the world by a typhoon during an attempt to rescue Kika’s kitten Tiger who is stuck on the very top of a church tower.
During the series they try to travel back home overcoming terrible obstacles, crossing strange territories, and meeting even stranger people and animals. Add to this the All-Knowing-Narrator, a walking and talking Encyclopaedia of Bizarre and Unnecessary Trivia.
At the end of every episode the viewers are left with a last shot of Kika’s cat, Tiger, who is still stuck on the church steeple. Tiger is basically a Tamagotchi: the young viewers at home are responsible for his wellbeing while Kika and Bob are away. They can help him catch flying birds from the sky so that he doesn’t starve.
On the journey Kika & Bob visit different countries, all with their own game. These web games relate to the series in a way that whenever a new episode of the series air, a new web game would become available too. Just like in the TV series, Kika & Bob visit places all around the world and the players must make sure Kika & Bob survive the dangers or difficulties these places offer.
Being one of my favourite Kika & Bob games I can still remember the level design I did for Italy. The game is centred around ‘Nonna’ cooking in her kitchen and the players who need to help her find the right ingredients. However, you only get a quick look what’s where all the ingredients are in her huge pantry. Then the pantry closes, and the player must remember where the ingredients are that Nonna desires. Of course, while the levels progress the player has less times to answer and the variety of ingredients increases!
The game was clearly inspired by games as Cluedo and Scotland Yard. In this case Kika becomes a detective and must figure out who could have stolen the necklace. You do this by examine the footprints on the floor and determining where they lead. Combining starting locations of characters with the footprints you can solve the mystery and apprehend the criminal. The first levels have less suspects and have easier layouts. The example above is one of the most difficult levels in the game.
This is a typical side-scrolling game, where you had to guide both Kika and Bob through a maze of obstacles and opponents. The serries had multiple side-scrolling games, all based on the same ‘engine’ created in Flash. We created a way to swap sprites and adjust the character- and scrollspeed to easily make multiple variations. Most games had unique features and animations to set the games apart.
Being the last game in the series, this was to become the ultimate knowledge battle about the series. You had a mystery character under a paper bag while in the globe on the table items from the serries would appear. Players had to guess which character was under the bag by interpreting the items or icons shown. Items would either be accessories of the characters or taken from specific scenes from the series.
The buttonsmash-time-memory-mania game of China was awesome. The chicken would first show the right sequence (←→↓↑) which the players had to remember. Then it would be Kika’s turn to repeat this sequence flawlessly. The funny thing is, it’s based on the gentle poses of Tai-Chi. However, in the final levels players would be frantic; trying to remember long and very quick button combinations resulting in chaos, frustration or tense moments.
This game was basically Duck Hunt with a twist. Players had a paintball-gun to shoot paint at white canvasses. Paintings would move along the screen ánd would require specific colours. Players had to shift between the different colours of paint and hit the canvas on the right spots to fill in the paintings. In later levels the speed is dialled up and decoys where introduced.
Having a similar timing mechanic as the China game, this game was also about the fun. When players timed their button press wrongly Bob would start to stutter or worse start to make incoherent noises, this would entice the crowed to start booing and eventually even start throwing tomatoes. Poor Bob, you better amp up your game in this one!
Hey, if you are doing 26 games there better be a Frogger in there! Kenia was a fun and engaging version of frogger where players had to bring 4 characters across. A great crowd pleaser was the fact that every animal type had their own unique ‘death’ animations. As players progressed levels became more difficult by introduces faster animals and creating intricate spawning patterns.
The Submarine game had a feature I rarely have seen in other games. You could hardly move your own character. Bob would be pushed left and right by the rocking of the submarine. Players had to time when to take stairs to other decks, or when to clean the spilled toxic waste. All while avoiding the dangerous and hurtful items flaying around in the same rocking motion.