There are licenses we sometimes forget to exist and the kangaroo kao is almost one of them. After the first episode on the Dreamcast in 2000, we haven’t heard of Tate Multimedia’s spell since 2005, with the third installment on PC. However, it seems that the Polish studio wanted to get Kao out of its boxes and bring us a new adventure game and platform.
Copy of the game and images courtesy of Tate Multimedia
Play on PlayStation 5 for review
An excuse to become a hero
Kao the Kangaroo is not a direct sequel to the previous games, as we prefer to talk about the reboot. Some elements of the series are still there, but we start the adventure with Kao who has a former dream, while he sees his sister Kaia in danger when she goes to save their father. It is enough for our furry hero to go get his father’s gloves to save his family. Walt would not listen to his mentor in this way and would give him a professional training in his dojo, which would be an opportunity for the player to discover the way to handle the character, as well as the range of moves available to him.
Aesthetically, the game isn’t much reinvented and is unabashedly inspired by the latest trendy platform games that have hit our screens in recent years. So we stay very cartoonish, and even if it doesn’t stand out from the competition, Kao the Kangaroo is still a lot of fun to watch and especially to browse. The animation of our hero and the rather crazy appearance of the enemies make us willingly forgive the general aspect of the environments. With only four worlds to cross, the themes used are far from very diverse and nothing really special.
It’s all about exploration
The progression is rather simple, each world is represented by a central HUB, through which one can move to different levels, with an ultimate main goal. All you have to do is explore and collect the runes which will then be used as currency to unlock the famous levels. Thus, the platform is omnipresent in these exploration stages, but the places to visit are very big and there are a lot of little secrets to be found, in order to collect jewels and money. They are then used to buy costumes or pieces of the heart for our character. The set again is really classic, but it clearly works. Exploration is more than fun and the collections are full of little details to keep an eye on. This makes the game world cohesive and we really enjoy trying to find all the hidden little things.
Unsurprisingly, collecting 100% is an integral part of the adventure, with levels where you have to collect all the gems, scrolls to boost our encyclopedia, but above all the three letters to form the word KAO. A must-have for a platform game that clearly harks back to the 2000s. This adds several layers to exploration. The average player will be able to enjoy browsing the game at their own pace and find some secrets here and there, while the experienced user will be able to get a field day if they intend to collect all the rewards hidden on their way.
Even more motivating, the levels are not exactly linear. There is of course a central route to follow, but it’s easy to find junctions or alternative routes that are a little more difficult, with a key to a treasure chest or something to retrieve. Curiosity is often rewarded and the few puzzles that we have to solve are not too difficult, but it will still be possible to meet a little resistance in the “eternal wells”, which can be related to the bonus areas that are hidden in the levels.
lack of diversity
Very quickly, the hero of our service will be able to use his gloves to make his way among his enemies. However, we should not expect a highly developed combat system, where we will have a series of strikes, a ground attack and a special strike that we can detonate when the energy bar is filled. It works on paper, but we do the same thing all the time. Nor would it be better in terms of the elementary charges of fire, water, and wind that we can capture and that give strength to our gloves. Except it’s only used for simplified puzzles, such as burning a spider’s web or activating a boomerang, which must then be thrown at a target often right next to it.
It’s more or less the same observation for pallet stages, because they often move trays or collapse under our own weight. The only peculiarity comes from the crystals that have to be activated to make the platforms appear from a parallel distance. Even if it’s on the merits, these are platforms that are still on their way to disappearing. However, this lack of originality is compensated for by a well-thought-out level structure that does not constantly use the same mechanisms. There are sometimes moments of vertical chase, slides, or even bosses and it’s certainly easy, but it brings a bit of variety at the same time.
Kao the Kangaroo isn’t a game that basically succeeds in standing out, but it’s still authentic for being. I have to say I had a really nice ten hours. We sometimes encounter some technical issues, like coin barrels that don’t disappear, but nothing really hinders our adventure. If you, like me, are a fan of platform games from the 2000s, you should be easily satisfied. We will not remember it and it will not be one of the classics to give to our grandchildren, but it is a good playmate for a few evenings.
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