Kao the Kangaroo overview: An obscure, however welcome revival

Kao the Kangaroo

MSRP $29.99

“Kao the Kangaroo is a enjoyable 3D platformer franchise revival with strong platforming and less-than-solid narrative.”

Execs

  • Easy however enjoyable platforming
  • Nicely designed ranges
  • Vibrant visuals

Cons

  • Poor voice performing and story
  • No actual challenges

Tate Multimedia is giving a forgotten-turned-beloved platforming mascot a second probability with the rebooted Kao the Kangaroo. This recent recreation, which shares a reputation with the franchise itself, reveals why now is really the right time to deliver Kao again. These days, there are a plethora of unbiased 3D platformers that don’t need to fear about being drowned out by the massive AAA platformers, like Kao was again when it first emerged.

Whereas Mario, Crash Bandicoot, Rayman, and Spyro the Dragon had been finally the platforming mascots that stood the take a look at of the time the perfect, they’re removed from the one memorable characters to headline 3D platforming video games. Fashionable YouTube video and Twitter hashtags helped deliver this collection again, and the hassle from followers was principally value it. Devilishly easy however surprisingly memorable in most points of its design, this traditional Kao the Kangaroo is an pleasurable platforming romp regardless of some shortcomings.

It might be a straightforward platformer with poor voice performing and a foul story, however Kao the Kangaroo delivers essentially pleasurable gameplay in a vibrant world, displaying how even the much less well-remembered platformers from the style’s heyday have a greater probability at getting the love they deserve now than they did 20+ years in the past.

It’s about time

Through the late 90s and early 2000s particularly, many builders took cute animals, machines, or youngsters and turned them into the star of an thrilling platformer for gamers of all ages. Kao the Kangaroo is considered one of these collection, with the primary three video games within the collection being enjoyable, if unambitious, platformers within the vein of video games like Crash Bandicoot and Rayman 2.

The rebooted Kao the Kangaroo feels so simple as traditional 3D platformers from the N64, PlayStation, and Dreamcast period, however with trendy visuals and design instinct. It’s a level-based platformer the place the participant’s main purpose is to make their solution to the top of the stage whereas getting as many collectibles as attainable. Just like the traditional Kao video games, this reboot isn’t essentially the most authentic idea from a gameplay standpoint however executes this tried and true concept properly.

Kao punches a barrel in Kao the Kangaroo.

Kao the Kangaroo has a vibrant and joyous visible design. Whereas animations clearly aren’t as fluid as AAA video games like Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time or Ratchet & Clank: Rift Aside, Kao the Kangaroo’s visuals are nonetheless filled with allure as Kao takes large strides as he walks and may nonetheless pull off a few of his unsettling visuals strikes — particularly extending his neck underwater or whereas hanging from nets.

The sport’s ranges are unfold throughout 4 hub worlds and match naturally into every space’s design and theme. Each stage feels distinct because of clear visible theming, distinct shade pallets, and distinctive enemies in every hub. Exploring the comparatively protected however jungle-filled Hopalloo Island feels a lot totally different than making my manner via later ranges, like a spa resort positioned on the highest of an icy mountain overtaken by an evil power.

“Kao’s gameplay feels ripped proper out of the early 2000s in a great manner.”

It may not be AAA high quality, but it surely appears to be like and looks like a Kao the Kangaroo recreation ought to. The sport even consists of Kao’s authentic design as a dressing up when you really need to finish that throwback feeling.

The reignited formulation

Kao’s gameplay feels ripped proper out of the early 2000s in a great manner. Kao strikes slower than your typical platformer protagonist and has a comparatively tame transfer set that consists of a double leap, punch, ground-pound, roll, and spin within the air. Whereas it may not be as sophisticated as Tremendous Mario Odyssey, it nonetheless will get the job accomplished because of Kao the Kangaroo’s extra relaxed tempo and stage design that accounts for the sport’s pace and Kao’s strikes fairly properly.

Whereas I’m undecided this might be essentially the most enjoyable platformer to speedrun due to that slower tempo, the mobility continues to be numerous sufficient to allow shortcuts in larger ranges as soon as gamers study find out how to string a few of Kao’s strikes collectively. Whereas fight is fairly easy (you’ll primarily use Kao’s fundamental three-hit combo), fights by no means overstay their welcome. Platforming and fight are additionally spiced up when gamers increase Kao’s gloves with fireplace, ice, and wind, though these upgrades are momentary and level-specific.

Kao the Kangaroo punches frogs.

Whereas Kao isn’t essentially the most bold platformer when it comes to gameplay, it focuses on the basics and will get them proper. Kao the Kangaroo is enjoyable to play, and even essentially the most informal of avid gamers ought to have the option to select the sport up and luxuriate in it.

Due to that, the sport by no means will get that difficult. I solely died a number of instances all through the journey and had extra lives than I knew what to do with by the top of the expertise. That’s disappointing for these of us who like a great problem from our platformers, however fortunately exploring each nook and cranny of every stage for collectibles is simply as rewarding as a tricky stage can be. In the end, Kao the Kangaroo looks like a throwback to when 3D platformer may simply be pure, easy enjoyable and never need to fear about redefining the style or sporting AAA animation and visuals.

That’s why it’s irritating when the sport stops the participant of their tracks to emphasise the story.

Cease for storytime

Bear in mind that your first time via Kao the Kangaroo, you’ll always need to endure a lackluster story. Although Tate Multimedia builders admitted in an interview with Digital Tendencies that the narrative wasn’t a spot they might compete with AAA video games, there’s nonetheless a surprisingly vital deal with it right here that does extra hurt than good.

The plot revolves round Kao’s makes an attempt to seek out his lacking father and sister and his struggle towards an evil Everlasting Warrior and a darkish spirit inside his gloves. It’s a reasonably generic “save the household and the world” story you’ve seen earlier than, and the twist villain is clear from a mile away. It’s an unnecessarily bold story for a franchise whose first recreation was about Kao rescuing his associates from an evil hunter.

“The story simply finally ends up feeling like one thing you want to sit via.”

Nonetheless, this plot may’ve been salvaged if it labored as a enjoyable Saturday morning cartoon. Sadly, weak voice performing and writing imply that it doesn’t hit these highs. Particularly, Kao’s voice actor sadly by no means looks like he delivers his traces fairly proper. as he constantly places the emotional emphasis on the fallacious phrases. It’s laborious to attach with something happening when the sport’s protagonist is so annoying. Different characters, like Kao’s mentor Walt, additionally simply sound stilted of their line supply, making many of the voice performances on this recreation really feel very amateurish.

The dialogue itself delves into cliché, and its humor boils all the way down to meme references to the sport’s determinant. An trade the place Kao’s mom references Skyrim’s “arrow to the knee” meme and Doom’s “rip and tear” mantra left me notably baffled. Kao the Kangaroo by no means wanted deep narrative or frequent voice performing to be nice, and Tate’s try to deliver these in hurts the standard of the expertise. Fortunately, you possibly can skip all of the cutscenes, though miss out on vital context for every stage.

Kao the Kangroo looks over a vast level from a rooftop.

In the end, the story simply finally ends up feeling like one thing you want to sit via so this collection can reestablish its narrative identification earlier than getting you to the subsequent dose of enjoyable platforming. Fortunately, that platforming feels enjoyable and rewarding, if not notably difficult. Tate Multimedia is aware of find out how to make an pleasurable 3D platformer, so I hope this isn’t the final we see of this 22-year-old Kangaroo. Extra of those obscure however beloved collection need to get trendy follow-ups, not only the massive guys like Mario and Crash Bandicoot.

Our take

Kao the Kangaroo may not be essentially the most progressive, troublesome, or narratively satisfying platformer on the market, however this recreation nonetheless nails the fundamentals. As such, any fan of recent 3D platformers will discover so much to take pleasure in with this reboot of Kao the Kangaroo and possibly even be impressed to examine out the forgotten classics Kao starred in.

Is there a greater different?

The closest trendy comparisons are titles like SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Backside — Rehydrated and Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. If these 3D platformers had been your cup of tea, then you definately’ll dig the brand new Kao the Kangaroo.

How lengthy will it final?

Kao the Kangaroo isn’t an enormous recreation, so most gamers ought to see and accumulate the whole lot the sport gives inside 8 to 10 hours. For those who aren’t attempting to be a completionist, it’s going to be a lot shorter than that.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. This isn’t the subsequent traditional 3D platformer, but it surely’s a welcome revival of a traditional platformer mascot that by no means actually obtained the adore it deserved.

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