Kao The Kangaroo (Xbox Series X)
Ok so way back in 2000, when most 3d platformers were based around animated characters (Crash, Spyro, Ty, etc), we were blessed with the lesser known Kao the Kangaroo series. We ended up with 5 titles between 2000 and 2005, and then as per most games of this ilk, disappeared for years. In steps Kao the Kangaroo (2022), a reboot of the franchise from original developers Tate Multimedia. Tate were last seen with 2018’s middle Steel Rats, can they get the knockout punch with Kao? Let’s check it out.
Please note this is a pre-release version of the game, and any bugs mentioned may be removed upon release.
Kao is an action platformer where our hero Kao is on a usual journey, find his missing sibling, and the secret about his long-lost father, it’s typical kids game story. Nothing too heavy, simple to understand, and nothing we haven’t seen before.
Gameplay is something we’ve seen before, Kao has to get through each level, with some slight puzzle elements and enemies in your way. Platforming is standard affair, though a few little gripes with how the collision detection holds up, I found myself unable to jump fully if I was stood right next to the thing I wanted to jump on, so moving back a little bit would solve this, not ideal but not too painful. Also I found a few issues with collision detection with both enemies and objects in the area, especially fighting a boss in which I couldn’t actually attack, just went right through him, not to mention a few enemies and items that fell through the floor, or the time I was stuck in scenary these will hopefully be patched though upon release.
Combat is very very simple, no real focus has been made into the combat engine, understandably the type of game this is doesn’t need a full complex combat engine, but you’re given a standard attack that can be chained to 3 hits, a heavy attack and a dash attack. You are able to put status effects on Kao’s gloves, and these tie in to each area you can visit (Flame, Ice, Magic). These have different effects on the areas and puzzles you visit, nothing too strenuous here though.
Visually it holds up, character models look nice, bold and fun, each of the 4 worlds you visit are pretty standard affair but again they look serviceable. I did find the further I got into the game the more I enjoyed the worlds, unfortunately by the time I felt I was going through somewhere new, it was one of the last areas (The Circus). The previous areas were pretty standard for the genre, Jungles, Snow levels, Caves and Caverns etc, they were all bold and kept with the visual style of the game.
I do find with platform games is we lack a variety of enemies, and Kao is no different, each world has 3 or 4 different enemies, and they’re pretty standard by the numbers. So you’ll be fighting crabs, variations of Apes, Frogs, Goats and Birds, and these are usually pallet swaps or slight variations. Each world has a boss fight as well, which is again something unique per world you visit.
There was quite a lot to do per world, each level has 3 different sets of collectables, runes (which can be used to unlock levels), diamonds, and scrolls. Each level also has a hidden sub-level, you’ll recognise the format of these from the early crash games, and again some of these can be quite difficult to complete too. But these will give you a reason to come back to Kao.
If you’re like me and you want to be done with a game as soon as possible, Kao doesn’t require to you fully complete everything before you see the credits. Each hub world will give you some runes to get into levels and you’ll find the minimum amount to get to the next levels without much stress.
Audio kept with the style of the game, nothing but upbeat joyful music, however this usually looped after a few minutes or so, again we experience this is most titles now anyway, don’t expect a triple A licensed soundtrack. The game didn’t have a huge amount of audio dialogue but what it did have, was perfectly fine, anyone that didn’t get audio, just had a nice bit of text instead.
Kao is never going to win any awards come end of the year, but it fits well into the landscape offering a B-tier experience much like how it was in previous entries. If you’ve played previous titles or you’re after something your young’n will finish in after a few attempts, Kao will hit the sweet spot for a weekend.
Serviceable budget title fare.
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