Developer: Tate Multimedia
Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Platforms: Xbox Series X , Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 27 May 2022
Price: $29.99 USD – Available Here
Do you know what type of game never gets old? Platformers. There is a finite number of shooters, horror games, and racing games that I can play before fatigue kicks in. Then it is time to switch to a completely different genre until enough time passes so I can revisit and replay something. But I can always find time for a good platformer. Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Toy Story 2……..the list goes on. This is why I have good expectations from Kao the Kangaroo. It’s colorful, has a cute protagonist and you can imagine a lot of jumping around to be in the picture since we will be playing as a kangaroo. Now I just need to find out if my good expectations will be met.
Right off the bat, we get dropped a bombshell of a story – our father has been kidnapped! Sister too! Who did that and why, who are these ghoul-like monsters appearing all over the place, why our Kao has to wear boxing gloves, why is our mentor a ghost, and why every bee in the game is trying to kill us. Sure, a lot of questions at first but a lot of them will be answered soon enough, especially those concerning the disappearance of our family. There is also something or someone called the Eternal Warrior that’s been corrupting our cozy tropical island with dark power. You can call me clairvoyant, but something tells me we might have to deal with them too at some point in our journey.
After a short tutorial level, we find ourselves on the adorable Hopallo Island. It acts as an initial central hub of the game where we can explore around to get some coins, hidden items, and runes. Runes act as keys for levels and getting enough of them enables us to check out the levels in no specific order. While you have plenty of NPCs cheering you on, you’ll be on your own most of the time. Actually, it’s just you and your boxing gloves. After landing enough hits on the enemies, you can perform a flashy finishing move although I didn’t find it necessary most of the time. It’s up to you if you want to spam punch and nothing else or wrap it up with a finishing move after 3-4 hits. The results are pretty much the same and just punching alone might even be faster when you’re by multiple enemies.
Later on, you can unlock special moves and elemental charges for your boxing gloves. Some of those special abilities will enable you to clear up cobwebs, burning them in one hit and thus unlocking new areas of the level. With all that said, this is really an accessible platformer. There is no steep difficulty curve as you go through the later levels. The only things that offer a slight challenge were certain boss fights, and by “slight challenge” I mean that I managed to die 2 or 3 times before finally taking them down.
You might then ask yourself if the game is not really all that challenging, what’s the hook here, and what’s the incentive to play it? It’s simple, really. This is an exploration platformer. Pretty much every level (including the main hub) is filled with hidden items, a plethora of coins, heart pieces, hidden areas, extra lives, and much more. This is one of the games where snooping around really pays off in the end.
The word of the day is – cute. Everything is cute. You, the enemies, levels, NPCs, bosses. The world of Kao the Kangaroo is full of flashy colors and it’s a real joy to play it. And if that wasn’t enough, pretty soon you’ll figure out that our Kao can be customized, in a way. With enough coins, you can buy different outfits for him and accessories. Want to look cool with some sunglasses while taking down bosses? This game got you covered.
The sound design in this game covers all the basics. It is incredibly rich in jungle-like levels, and the main hub. The soundtrack is just diverse enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It also has a surprisingly good voice acting for an indie game, despite how you might not hear it so often. Aside from that, my only complaint is that the game will rely on memes and pop culture references that stopped being funny or relevant a few decades ago. The “arrow in the knee” meme had a good run, let’s just bury it for now. Deal?
Kao the Kangaroo is a game that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and it doesn’t shoot for the stars. Despite what high or low expectations you might have, it will set you straight pretty soon. Its main selling points are good visuals, a lovable cast of characters, and a surprisingly rich level design. While the overall difficulty of the games leaves a lot to be desired, Kao the Kangaroo ends up being a pretty well-made platformer where making pancakes out of enemies with your boxing gloves never gets old.
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