The tried and tested of Kao the Kangaroo, an old-fashioned platformer that convincingly marks the return of a not-so-famous character.
3D platforming is a genre that had an incredible flare from the second half of the 90s onwards, until the beginning of the new millennium, only to be put aside. That was an era full of bizarre characters, often inspired by the animal world, wandering through colorful worlds of platforms and traps, jumping around in search of objects and adventures. Many of these heroes have by now been forgotten, that is, they have not produced lasting series or have been bypassed by other franchises, but they are still part of the culture of the medium. So despite being pushed to the fringes of the industry, it happens that some of these heroes appear to return for one last flare-up, hoping to find some success.
For this we have tried Kao the Kangaroo with a bit of melancholy, happy to see a friend of a bygone era returned to offer us his hand … sorry, the glove.
Kao The Kangaroo is a platform 3D very classic in the sense that, net of the updated graphics, it strongly recalls some titles from the mid-90s and others from the early 2000s for mechanics and level construction style, which is not necessarily a bad thing since we are talking about the period golden like that. Quite frankly, we didn’t expect anything from the game. The operation itself is nice: the recovery of a little-known franchise thanks to the passion shown by the hard core of its admirers, but apart from that it was difficult to have high expectations for the title of Tate Multimedia. Maybe that’s why we liked the trial version more than we expected.
From the very first moments of the game it is clear that the developers know perfectly well what they are doing and have a big deal mastery of the genre. Of course, the production is not very high and some limits are all seen, especially in the accessory elements, but in terms of gameplay we are faced with a work that is not only interesting, but that all 3D platformers should at least keep an eye on. , also given the few releases in recent years.
There history which is the background to the action is quite classic: Kao must go in search of his sister Kaia and his father Koby, in a mission with seemingly very relaxed tones, but which will take unexpected turns in the advanced stages, taking on much darker tones . At the structural level, Kao the Kangaroo is divided into large hub areas, placed within well-defined biomes, from which you can access the various levels, but only after having found the right amount of runes necessary to open the related magical gates . The starting biome is the island of Hoopaloo, practically Kao’s home, where you can face a tutorial level called the dojo of Walt, the master of the young kangaroo, and then start the real mission, which will take us around different islands, all very different from each other, but all to be explored from top to bottom. Each biome offers at least three levels, as well as a fight with a boss, usually an enemy with the most intricate attack patterns, which requires a certain spirit of observation to be defeated, as well as a fair degree of skill with the controller.
We were able to test three out of four biomes of ours, all with unique characteristics. So we visited lava caves, a lush jungle, a frozen canyon and many other typical places of the genre, all with their own unique enemies and challenges.
The gameplay in itself it is a very successful mix of exploration and combat. Kao is not only capable of striking leaps, but he can also punch enemies with his boxing gloves, using a variety of moves, including straight punches, jumping butt strikes, swirling strikes and special attacks that they charge by hitting opponents and eliminating enemies instantly, stunning those around. The fights of the first biome, against giant frogs, are not very difficult, but those of the other two have proved more challenging, even though they have never reached an enormous level of complexity. In addition, more variety of enemies have appeared, which by dealing with different ways made the challenge more interesting.
A classic style
THE levels of Kao, however linear, are full of secrets and are pleasant to explore to hunt for hidden objects, whether they are coins with which to buy upgrades in game stores, or the three letters that form the name Kao, or even fragments heart that allow you to expand the reserve of energy. The degree of interactivity is not very high, but it is functional to the type of game: Kao can chat with the characters in the hub areas, he can break barrels and furniture to hunt for coins and he can buy items in shops.
The levels of them are built in such a way as to take advantage of all of Kao’s moves, including suspended platforms to cling to, buttons to press, bouncing buttons to use to reach distant areas and many other foundations that recall the classics of the genre. With the continuation of the game, upgrades are also unlocked for the kangaroo gloves, the key object of the entire adventure, even at a narrative level, which are used to solve some puzzles.
For example it is possible to collect fireballs to burn some barriers, either by catching them at punches, either by throwing boomerangs at him. Nothing too complicated, as you might have guessed. However, the more you progress in the levels, the more the variety of moves available increases, the more the levels become intricate, following a precise pattern in the progression of the difficulty, which however works really well … So well that we were sorry not to have could have finished the game. Of course, we have encountered some problems and we will see if it will be mitigated in the final version. For example some cutscenes are really crude, while in some stages we found some problems with the camera. The same control system suffer from a certain weight which in some situations can be annoying. That said, there seemed to be minor issues overall, which can definitely be fixed and which, apart from everything, do not spoil the experience.
Kao the Kangaroo is a game in some ways stubborn, one that no one seemed to want, but which could turn out to be better than expected, also because it is not accompanied by who knows what expectations. After all, Kao is one of the many minor characters who have made the history of video games and that no one remembers today, with the difference that he wants to try to return under the spotlight, even if only for a short moment, making his way with shots of punches. For now, the effort seems fruitful, but we’ll see if he can make it.
- A classic 3D platformer that looks really well done
- The levels seem well designed
- Some production problems