Kao the Kangaroo – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Tate Multimedia
Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PS5

Kao the Kangaroo – Review

Site Score
6.3
Good: Quality platforming, Fun setting
Bad: Horrible voice acting, A huge amount of bugs
User Score
0
(0 votes)
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All the way back in 2000 the world saw the birth of a new platforming mascot. Kao the Kangaroo saw a very successful release on SEGA’s Dreamcast console. The game was so popular, that it spawned two more sequels after the Dreamcast was discontinued. Sadly, for some reason, the boxing gloves-wearing kangaroo faded to the background, and it felt like the world would never again see a Kao the Kangaroo game. That is, until now. Tate Multimedia has been developing a new Kao the Kangaroo game, for basically all relevant platforms out there. The studio is truly banking on nostalgia, while they hope to deliver a fun old-school platforming experience. We put the game to the test, and while it had a fair few interesting and fun mechanics, it also had many bugs.

Story

Kao the Kangaroo follows Kao who is embarking on a journey to bring his sister home. He expected heavy resistance from his mother when venturing out, as both his father and sister left home and never came back. Luckily she approves of his quest if he promises to return home. He won’t venture out alone, as he has his father’s strange boxing gloves, which apparently are possessed by a weird entity. Together with a few friends he meets along the way, he’ll do his best to seek out his sister, as well as fix a strange corruption that has been spreading across the land.

The story is fairly okay, albeit a bit cliché. You’ll get short cutscenes at regular intervals, and these tell you a bit more about what is going on. We did find the writing to be very cheesy and sometimes just downright awful. We couldn’t exactly figure out if this was a game aimed at children or fans of the original games, as the dialogues often felt too simplistic but they also had a lot of old pop culture references.

Graphics

Graphically the game could look very good if some rough edges are ironed out. We generally loved the character design and the game’s environments. Sadly, this overall nice atmosphere gets dragged down due to very janky animations, very haunting facial expressions of the characters, and a lot of assets that serve no purpose. Everything in the game feels incredibly static, and this is further enhanced by having assets that look like the normal destructible items, only for them to be static non-destructible ones. This means that the game doesn’t have any real recognizable items when exploring, as you never know what is properly programmed to be something you can destroy and what isn’t. Nonetheless, we did enjoy exploring the different biomes of the game, and sometimes the backdrops were very beautiful to look at. Cosmetic upgrades will only work during the gameplay segments, as outfits are not visible during the cutscenes.

Sound

The sound design left us with mixed feelings. The clearly Crash Bandicoot-inspired soundtrack was quite appealing, and we enjoyed the overall backdrop throughout all of the stages. The music is certainly the highlight of the sound design, simply because the voice acting is absolutely horrendous. Kao sounds as if he has a serious cold while also not being able to convey any type of emotion. The latter is true for all the cast members, as they simply sound as if they’re reading some scribbles on a napkin. The audio mixing is also terribly done, with some lines being a lot quieter than others, and sometimes the music randomly kicks in during dialogues at a ridiculously loud volume.

Gameplay

Kao the Kangaroo is an old-school 3D adventure platformer. You’ll be going from stage to stage, to progress the story, while also collecting the necessary runes to unlock the next levels. The offset is very simple, as more than often you just have to make it to the end of the stage, solve a few simple puzzles by using different elements, and fight a boss now and then. The game also has combat portions, where Kao has to use his boxing gloves to best his opponents. There is no real complexity to be found here, and that’s honestly a good thing. The game is very accessible for younger and older players, and the platforming is of high quality. The combat, however, feels a bit bland and less enjoyable. The redeeming quality here is the elemental system, where you have to charge your gloves with different elements to melt ice, freeze lakes, and so on.

The levels in the game are not extremely short, and you’ll spend roughly twenty minutes in each of the stages. This can vary a bit depending on how much you explore. The game rewards exploring, as you may find extra runes to unlock stages or heart pieces that increase your maximum health, but also money, scrolls, and diamonds can be found. The diamonds and scrolls are only for completionists, as they are in no way required for you to progress. We would have liked it if some of the collectibles would also grant a few extra bonuses or cosmetic rewards. Nonetheless, even players that don’t like exploring will amass enough money to buy extra heart pieces and a few outfits for Kao. We particularly loved the original Kao skin, making him look like the 2001 version of Kao.

While Kao the Kangaroo is quite fun, its potential gets further hampered by a metric ton of bugs. The most common ones here are issues with hit detection, button inputs not registering, and just small clipping errors. These you can often live with, even though it’s annoying to get hit by an enemy this isn’t even remotely in range. Things take a turn for the worse when you get stuck in a treasure chest, or in the environment, and the game does not have a reload from the last checkpoint option. If you get stuck during one of the levels, you’ll have to restart the entire level. Also, we had issues when we bought items from the merchant right before turning the game off. Upon rebooting, we lost our items several times (cosmetics), while our money was also gone. These things can turn an otherwise entertaining game into something very frustrating.

Conclusion

Kao the Kangaroo is an enjoyable platformer – if you can look past its many imperfections. The game offers a solid platforming experience, but it fails to deliver when it comes to its combat. We found the mechanic with the different elements quite entertaining, and we truly hope this game will receive many patches to improve its graphical prowess, solve audio mixing issues, and remove many of the hit detection bugs. We were entertained with this new lease on life for the franchise, but it should have stayed in the over for a bit longer.

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Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

1 Comment

  1. […] Multimedia has announced that Kao the Kangaroo will finally be making its return after 20 years. The game has been released on PS5, PS4, Xbox […]

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