Kick the Buddy: A Virtual Pet for the Violent

Jan 15, 2018

There’s no doubt that handheld devices – in particular mobile phones – have forever changed the video gaming landscape. While traditional games typically include some form of narrative combined with constantly improving visuals and playability, today’s pocket games continue to go against the grain, blurring the already-confusing lines between what games are and what they aren’t.

Kick the Buddy is one such game that upsets the distinctions: it features a digital pet in the form of an annoying sack-boy. Rather than feed, play with, and educate him, though, your role as God is to injure him by whichever means possible. It all seems very macabre to begin with; however, just a minute with the character will be enough to fuel your animosity towards him. His constant jibes and jeers poke at you, asking “is that it; is that all you can do?” It’s a clever reversal from the digital pet simulations we’re so used to – the Tamagotchi you spend a full 10 minutes caring for, the Nintendogs that are probably rotting away on your DS as we speak.

Instead of dog treats and bed time stories, Kick the Buddy offers much more sinister toys to play with. You can choose from a vast array of weaponry with which to hurt your bothersome buddy, including firearms, biological weapons, and even Godly powers. There are 16 categories in total, most of which include around 20 individual weapons. You’re likely to find something of interest after you begin with your standard firearm, whether it be a grenade launcher, earthquake, or even launching never-ending apple pie – though it does seem a tad wasteful. The buddy can’t do anything back apart from tease and taunt, so it’s up to you to be creative as possible.

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The trouble is, what else can Kick the Buddy offer to keep you interested? This is where the distinctions remain tentative. Though there is some form of progression system – you earn money the more you hurt the character which can then be used to purchase better weaponry – there’s very little else to do aside from taping the screen to launch your weapon of choice. At points, the sheer amount of advertising can get overwhelming, and the fact that gold – another form of in-game currency – can only be earned by watching trailers is telling. The continual updates to the app’s features go some way to alleviating this issues, but there will still be some who tire after a short while with the game.

Video game or not, Kick the Buddy is worth a shot. Many, many shots.

However, no matter how long you spend on it, Kick the Buddy still manages to entertain through comedy and originality. Though the character is often times annoying, it’s all part of the act. And how often have you wished you could force a tornado upon your small, unassuming Tamagotchi pet – or was that just me? Video game or not, Kick the Buddy is worth a shot. Many, many shots.

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