Game: Kao the Kangaroo
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows & macOS) PS4 and Xbox)
Developer|Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US E 10+
Price: US $29.99 | UK £24.99 | EU € 29,99
Release Date: May 27th, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Press Engine.
Kao the Kangaroo returns in a brand new 3D platforming adventure after a long 17-year break. Despite being pretty fond of the platforming genre I didn’t have any experience of the Kao series until this year. Kao had quite the series of games back in the early 2000s spanning multiple consoles and portable devices. It clearly had quite the fan base, but it just didn’t feel like it lived up to some of the heavy hitters at the time such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Sonic the Hedgehog and of course Mario the Plumber (although he’s mostly just called Mario these days).
Now feels like a pretty good opportunity for Kao to make a comeback. Since 3D platforms feel pretty uncommon these days. If you are looking for an enjoyable collectible 3D platform then Kao the Kangaroo is a fun adventure worth adding to your collection physically or digitally.
Wear the Gloves
Kao’s sister and father have gone missing leaving behind a cursed pair of boxing gloves. It’s up to Kao to wear the mitts and seek them out whilst exploring a variety of levels and helping out some folk in need. The story is suitable for all audiences and features full voice acting during the cutscenes. The game makes many jabs at humour but they often don’t land their punchline.
Many times I heard a joke from various animal characters or Kao and all I heard in my head was crickets. Maybe it works better for younger gamers but there wasn’t a lot of emotional pay off to the story. The game feels more like a pretty forgettable Saturday afternoon cartoon at best. For many gamers that will be just fine. Things do vastly improve when we get to the gameplay.
Search and Collect
The template of the game feels very reminiscent of a typical collectable 3D platformer. In order to enter new levels or access new areas you need to collect these rock shards hidden in levels and even in a hub area. Levels are pretty large with plenty of room to explore. Coins can be collected absolutely everywhere, often placing them like a bread trail which will help keep you on track through the course of the levels. There are many moments though where you can veer off the beaten path to just explore and it feels quite satisfying to do this.
I highly enjoyed searching every nook and cranny to find secrets and just take in the level design. Once you have collected enough rocks it’s boss time which usually involves following a pattern before finding the right moment to strike. The formula for this game feels pretty straightforward, not really presenting anything particularly new or groundbreaking to the genre. But it works well and I couldn’t help leaping into another level when multiple times I told myself to stop to do the washing up.
One, Two Punch.
Controls are tight and responsive. Both jumping and movement feel comfortably smooth making navigating the levels easy for gamers of almost all skill levels. Your main attack is to use your boxing gloves. Jab away at enemies and then land a devastating ground pound so send any enemies in the area flying.
Other moves are at your disposal like a tail whip, the ability to slide on tree branches and you can imbue your gloves with elemental effects to use against enemies or in some light puzzle solving. When a new control or move is introduced it is handily displayed by a wooden sign held by a crab, which you’re able to skip if you decide to replay the game for the second run.
Graphics and Performance
Graphics are cute and cuddly matching the feel of a 3D platformer from the good old days only with a smoother lick of paint. Levels are colourful and fun to explore. The feel is very family-friendly so if you’re looking for something to enjoy with the little ones then this certainly fits the bill.
Performance-wise, the game handles OK on Switch. In handheld mode and TV I encountered moments where the game would become increasingly blurry, with textures coming in and out of focus when a lot was happening on screen such as multiple enemies. It was notably distracting but the game didn’t slow down, still managing to plod along at a stable pace. This version is certainly playable on Switch if it’s your preferred option. But if you plan to only play on TV and have access to other consoles or PC you may want to consider those versions.
Collect Them All
The game has a pretty beefy adventure to sink your teeth into. For collectible fans there are plenty of items like letters, diamonds, lore scrolls and heart shards to hunt for. Levels can be revisited at any time to search out what you’ve missed and you can indulge in a few mini-challenge levels to gain more coins and diamonds. You don’t have to do any of this but the game will certainly appeal to those looking to collect absolutely everything. Between levels, you can also buy various cosmetics, lives and heart shards. Though it seems a bit unfortunate the coin currency is used to purchase both of these. I did however like the outfits that featured nods to the older games.
All was hopping along quite well with my experience with Kao when I made significant progress. At 75% in I shut the game down expecting it to auto save, but when I launched the game later my save was wiped and I had to start all over again from the first level. This was pretty devastating for me since up to this point I was really enjoying myself and had spent several hours collecting all the trinkets I could. After a bit of a break I returned to see if the glitch was still present but so far it has not triggered again and the game is successfully auto saving. Hopefully, this is something you won’t encounter.
Kao the Kangaroo gave me the nostalgic feels of 3D platformers back in the day and it feels very refreshing today. It felt like seeing that old friend you haven’t seen since school and you’re a little nervous when you see them again. But after you get chatting you soon realize why you became friends in the first place. Kao is a solid collectable 3D platformer but doesn’t do much to evolve the genre. For most, that’s going to work just fine. Even if you have no experience with the series this game is a good jumping on point. Awful dialogue and some performance issues on Switch hold the title back though. But if you love your 3D platformers this is well worth bouncing on.
Final Verdict: I Like it