Kao the Kangaroo
Kao and the Kangaroo brought back fond memories of why I loved 3D platformers when I was a kid. Although I miss the Dreamcast console exclusive, it was surprising to see how similar this new reboot feels. Even though Kao isn’t trying to hide how it looks to other modern platformers for a comfort-food experience, It’s fun and colorful, and definitely nostalgic. But don’t expect a Crash bandicoot 4-level challenge.
This genre is not new, but stories of heroes saving loved ones are nothing new. Dialog could have been stronger; there is good humor, but it can sometimes be weakened by pop-culture references. Kao’s mom’s reference to “taking an arrow at the knee” is not very relevant, and the younger audience a game such as this is intended for probably won’t recognize it. There’s still a nice cast that joins our young hero, such as Walt, his wise teacher. Walt’s more grounded nature keeps scenes entertaining and acts as an effective straightman for Kao.
This wouldn’t be a platformer mascot without four worlds, and Kao has four. They’re all fun to explore, even though they don’t fit into the typical tropes. There are the warm Lava Caves hidden within the Hopalloo Island’s tropical sights and Hungry Jungle’s tropical sights. Every location is a hub filled with collectibles. However, runes are the only thing you really need to worry about, as they unlock new levels.
Kao soon discovers his father’s boxing gloves. These are home to an odd and sassy entity that gives him supernatural abilities. Kao can also use combo strikes and jabs to hit multiple enemies, allowing him to build up powerful finishers. These gloves can also store up three elemental charges. They start with fire and then unlock ice or electricity. These gloves not only give Kao some visual flair, but also allow him to clear platforms like spider webs and freeze water to build a bridge. Kao’s dodge roll also attacks enemies. This makes it an excellent defensive strategy tool. However, these aren’t as damaging as straight punches.It is possible to mix and match traditional ideas with modern ones. “
Kao has some impressive moves, and Tate, the new developer, has given us plenty of options by giving us decent enemy variety. There are the grunts that will attack you close up, but there’s also goats who launch sheep at you with a launcher. Each world ends with a boss fight. Each boss has their own unique tricks. Hopalloo Island’s boss Terror leaves behind a trail fire after he attacks, while Jayabaya from Hungry Jungle lobs projectiles that Kao can punch back. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but enough to avoid predictable results.
You will need to be careful and avoid repeating yourself. This includes climbing over vines with his ears and grappling across floating hooks. Kao must solve puzzles, such as a challenge in which he must connect the lines on a crystal to complete the task. Another level saw me run away from an enemy and roll towards Kao on a huge log, clearly inspired by Crash Bandicoot’s Boulder Dash. Although nothing is original, the idea of mixing traditional ideas with modern ones works well enough.Kao the Kangaroo – Official Combat Trailer1:15Autoplay setting: OnKao the Kangaroo – Official Combat Trailer
There are many hidden secrets to be found, so it’s worth exploring. Is there a secret behind these waterfalls? You bet! There are many collectibles hidden in levels: extra lives, heart pieces and treasure chests filled with coins and diamonds. Cash can also be used to buy new costumes at each shop in the hub world. This includes a retro look that Kao can wear, which is sure to please his fans. Three letters are hidden in every level spelling KAO. This can be difficult to find and some enemies drop scrolls which unlock new lore for the “Kaopedia.”
Fear not if you don’t feel it for another platformer collectionathon. As I mentioned before, runes alone are sufficient to progress. It begs the question: why are these runes even available? It can be difficult to find the letters, just like in Donkey Kong County. So I get that there is a sense accomplishment in finding them. These collectible diamonds were not useful to me throughout my playthrough. This includes the post-game which will take you back to the original creative final fight and let you complete any tasks you missed.Kao is quite quick but felt the right length. “
Exploration is not limited to finding items. These stages contain 14 bonus levels known as Eternal Wells. Each level requires you to complete a specific challenge. This could be as simple as defeating multiple enemies or earning more coins. It can also involve completing more difficult platforming challenges, collecting more diamonds, and more often, it is more challenging. Every hub world has its own Well. If you don’t find the one you want, you can always go back to it at any time.
Kao, even after defeating those wells was a fast experience, taking just nine hours and 20 minutes on average per level. You can probably complete the campaign in seven to eight hours if you don’t care about exploring or the Eternal Wells. To be fair, however, few platformers take longer than this. While big-name titles like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart or Super Mario Odyssey are great, smaller projects like A Hat in Time, Ary, and Secret of Seasons can take up similar amounts of time. It’s a good thing that Kao didn’t go overboard. Tate has balanced it well.
It was not difficult for me, and I didn’t have the option to increase the difficulty to make it more challenging on another playthrough. Although it’s not an easy task (the dodge roll is very useful when you are confronted with enemy groups), the extra lives quickly add up. Even though death was not often, I found heart pieces that would increase Kao’s health. This didn’t bother me so much. Although this structure feels formulaic after four worlds of experience, Kao masters the basics.
Kao the Kangaroo does a great job of making me nostalgic about an old-school platforming series. The game isn’t too gimmicky and packs a colorful aesthetic and light-hearted humor that will carry it through those parts where it feels unoriginal. It’s not difficult except for a few challenging platforming segments.
Combat is quite easy and some might find the collectathon concept off-putting. It was not dull to me. Tate has done an excellent job of bringing back this mascot. Even though you can see Kao’s modern influences from miles away, it is still enjoyable. This is an excellent platformer for those who want a comfortable and easy-to-use game.