Kao The Kangaroo REVIEW (PS5)
Updated: May 29, 2022
THE KANGAROO SONG.
Developed: Tate Multimedia
Published: Tate Multimedia
Genre: 3D Platformer
Release Date: May 27th, 2022
Platforms: PS5/PS4/NSW/XBOX FAMILY/PC
*Review copy provided to me by Renaissance PR*
''A hopping good time''
Kao The Kangaroo is a reboot sequel that continues the franchises long twenty year history in the gaming market. Developed and published by Tate Multimedia, the developers now aim to both improve the franchise up to modern day standards, but also keep together all the core reasons why people became attached to this franchise to begin with. But do they succeed in their attempt or should this bouncy mascot have stayed down under. Only one way to find out, so lets HOP HOP HOP, what do ya say?
Join Kao in an epic story as he searches for his missing father and sister, while also learning about himself along the way. Master ancient elemental powers alongside your magical boxing gloves and help save the world from the evil that has taken over parts of the world.
Kao the Kangaroo is one of the many platforming games in recent years that has gotten its second chance to shine. Much like in the same vein of franchises like Spyro and Crash Bandicoot. Those titles seemingly fell into obscurity after the passing years, but many to our surprise, got resurrected via a couple remasters, with Crash Bandicoot himself actually getting his own sequel. Come on, be honest, you can't tell me you saw that coming. Well that's kind of a lie? I mean remember when Sony teased us at their E3 conference, only for them to be like ''Oh wait? you wanted a Crash sequel? nope, here he is in Skylanders, you're welcome''. That ticked so many people off. I think the only gaming moment that topped that till this day is when Diablos Immortal was announced for Mobile instead of a PC Diablo game, and they just told us all, ''What don't you guys have phones''. OoOo. Yes I have a phone, but you are also about to get my boot to your booty while were at it. Ok ok sorry, were moving on. We need to ACTUALLY get into Kao The Kangaroo now, don't we? So we better get to it before Adam Sandler yells at us to turn off our damn kangaroo show because he wanted to watch Hockey.
Remember when I said this franchise was twenty years old? did you believe me? welp I hope for these poor little crabs sake in this game that you DID believe me, because for every fact I give out in this review that you DONT believe on.. well.. I'm taking it out on them. Starting with YOU. See what you made me do? This is on you guys, NOT Me. Upon starting your game, you're introduced to the main character Kao, who is giving chase to his sister Kaia in a dream like environment. He's trying to catch up to her and as soon as he does, a mysterious evil makes its presence known and kidnaps her before his very eyes. Waking up shocked and in a panic, Kao tells his mom that he thinks his dad and sister are in trouble and he needs to save them. His mom is confused. Heck, I would be too if someone just woke up from a nap and told me they were in a dream world chasing their sister who gets kidnapped by an ancient evil. Bro, have a snickers, you are nuts when you're hungry. But kidding aside, Kao's mom tells him if he's truly worried, then he must seek out Walt, a master of fighting, maybe he has the answers he seeks. Kao thinks this is a great idea and thanks his mom and sets out on his adventure. Now this is when the game truly starts to get going, and just like Anakin Skywalker says, ''This is where the fun begins'' - and he's absolutely 100% correct in that assumption. Don't believe me? what did I literally just tell you like just one minute ago about believing me? Ok that's strike TWO.
Kao The Kangaroo at its very core is a classic 3D platformer in the same category of titles like Banjo, Mario and Crash Bandicoot. But while those platformers rose to stardom and popularity, Kao on the other hand, is the lesser known platformer overall. Why is that? honestly, I'm not really sure. With the exception of the original Kao The Kangaroo game in 2000, the entries that have followed it have been relatively solid. I literally feel like the only person who was legit hyped when this title got announced, which was sort of embarrassing. It's like being the only person to clap in a room full of awkwardness. But history and embarrassment aside, does this game improve on the previous games formula or even the platforming genre itself after all these years? well. Yes and no. It does improve on its own historic roots, absolutely, but does it move the genre of platforming forward to new heights? absolutely not. But it doesn't have to. The basic idea of this game is simple. There are dark gates inhabiting 4-5 sections of the game and in order to rid the evil from that area, you must go inside each gate, complete your objective, take out the main baddie and boom, you're done. Pretty simple right? Oh ya its super simple. But that doesn't mean its just a straight shot to the end and poof you're done. Nope. Previously I said this game was like Banjo, Mario and Crash and yes that much is true, but out of all of those titles, it leans heaviest into the Banjo and Crash influences as far as its hub worlds, areas and overall art direction are concerned. Don't worry, now its time to fully explain all the game mechanics, areas and collectibles. Collectibles? oh yes. This is a collectathon.
When adventuring your way through Kao The Kangaroo, much like other collectathons in the past, you will be tasked to go through 4 different hub words and each of those four hub worlds, minus the last hub world of the game, having 3 different levels to play through, well four if you include the boss fight that takes place in each of them. These hub worlds are Hopalloo Island, which is an extremely beautiful tropical beach village where Kao and his people live. In Hopaloo Island, this is where you see the art direction really shine and where you can see the Crash 4 inspiration unmask itself. Both Kao and Crash 4 use a very similar art style, toon like with some amazing colors. It fits Kao the Kangaroo perfectly. I literally spent like a half hour just exploring the first hub area because its actually pretty big and I was pleasantly surprised all the way. Just being able to stand and look out into the ocean is really great and being able to hang out by the fire with your crab buddy is just as fun and.. wait a second. I thought I told you to get the dang firewood, you stupid crab! what's wrong with you!. I'm sorry. Where was I? oh yes, the areas. Aside from Hopalloo, you also have The Hungry Jungle that's filled with large trees, plants and even monkeys. Oh no. Monkeys? I still haven't got over my PTSD from fighting Kong in Call Of Duty Warzone and now you throw monkey's at me?. Ok just breathe. In and out. Ok were good. This is also an extremely amazing looking area that makes you just want to stand around and enjoy the sights. Are you noticing the trend here? Beach, Jungle and what's next? that's right, Frozen mountains. If you've played enough platformers throughout your life time, then you know there's always a sat pattern of levels each game goes through, beach, jungles, ice levels, fire, caves, etc and that does not change here. But were getting ahead of ourselves. We'll circle around to that after we dip into the games mechanics and its characters.
The core gameplay for Kao is not exactly complex. As you plow through each level looking for Runes to collect in order to unlock new areas locked behind dark gates, some gates that take anywhere from 5 Runes to even 48 Runes in order to unlock, you will be given your basic fundamental attacks and ways to move about your environment. Using Square to melee, you can pull off a quick three hit combo and when your gloves from punching are charged up enough, which is usually after five to six punches, you can unleash your special ground pound attack using Triangle. This is extremely helpful should you be in a fight versus a multitude of enemies at once or to give yourself time to make a quick get away. Alongside your basic melee attacking you'll have the tried and true double jumping, which can be mixed in conjunction with circle to unleash a powerful ground pound that can destroy boxes or even stun your opponents for a limited amount of time should you need to use it. I know what you're thinking. ''That sounds pretty boring''. I mean, it is basic yes, but its definitely not boring. Especially when obtaining glove powers. Not power glove awesome powers like Freddy in Nightmare On Elm street used, no, but just as cool. As you progress through the game even further, you'll come across different elements to use for your gloves such as Fire, Ice and Wind and each of these elements allowing you to interact with the world itself, puzzles and opening up secret paths that lead to hidden treasures and other collectibles along the way. If there's one thing this game is not lacking, its content and variety, that's for sure. There's WAY MORE to it than meets the eye and we haven't even begun to cover the games overall creative nature with its individual levels. Hang on, don't worry, were getting to it. But first I want to get into more of the characters and other aspects of this title that may get overlooked that give this game a HUGE amount of charm.
Beside the visuals of the game, which are superb, a lot of credit towards the games charm has to go to the in game characters and enemy types that you encounter throughout your roughly 7-8 hour journey. When you begin your journey, you meet Walt, who is basically this games Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda. Walt makes you go through training and endurance fights to prove you have what it takes to save the world. Fight hard to prove to him that you're worthy. I think I did pretty good, whatcha think master? a 4? not bad, out of 10? Ok never mind, he's a freaking jerk. Aside from Walt showing you the ropes and Kao watching him kick complete butt, you meet other awesome characters like Kao's mom who literally pulls out a ''arrow in the knee'' joke. She's totally played Skyrim, I mean, she would kind of have to right? its literally on every single console in known existence at this point. After visiting Kao's mom, you can then find a lady in a house at the top of the village who has some really great paintings along her wall and some ummm, very questionable ones. Yeah. she's a total pervert. You can also meet a new friend named Gadget who is a pelican that specializes in creating new and exciting inventions to help you on your journey, such as letting you use his airship to get you from hub world to hub world. He's pretty cool, but it always feels like he's... hiding something. It always makes you want to tell him ''hey bro what's that on your back?'' cause he's always being very sneaky about his work. But probably the weirdest character of all is Kao himself. Why? well because he's the happy go lucky really cringe main character. Don't get me wrong, I think he's great, but some of his lines are really really corny. Like when he's pumping himself up to take on the challenges ahead and he's just all like ''I'm here to kick butt and chew bubble gum and I'm all out of bubblegum'' and I'm just like like ''Oh god Kao. No. You're fired''. All the characters I just named are just from the first few hub sections too, this doesn't even count the dozens more characters like barrel rolling monkeys, goats in the frozen mountains and other proceeding areas. But with you now knowing the basic collecting method, how to complete each area, some characters that inhabit them. What of the ACTUAL enemies? you know that's kind of important for a game, ESEPCIALLY platformers. Well I'm happy to say that enemy types are actually pretty good and they mostly fit in directly with the overall worlds theme they're apart of.
When meleeing and jumping your kangaroo booty through lava caves and dodging fire hazards, talking to your eternal gloves about what to do next, finding bells for check points just incase you suck and die, solving puzzles such as using lasers and mirrors to blow up a machine to get a special wrench for Gadget, using your fire power to make platforms move by stomping or burning down spider webs, ice powers to freeze blocks so they can slide to a new section, using wind powers to pull objects towards you - while you're doing ALL THAT, you will be fighting for your life versus a great amount of baddies. These baddies range from miniature crabs that rush you and bike your ankles, Stinkers who fly above you to attack and literally fart as they do so, which... may or may not have made me laugh do to my immaturity, goats who have machine gun cannons that shoot sheep at you.. wait what? Hang on. Ok yeah I had that correct, that is accurate, literal goats shooting sheep, I've seen it all now. You will also run into flying monkey's in the sub-levels of The Hungry Jungle that will throw coconuts at you, but luckily by using your jump and tail attack with X and Square, when timed right, you can send their projectile right back at them into their stupid ugly hairy faces. It feels great to do. Get out of here monkey!. But my personal favorite enemies in the game, besides the boss fights like TERROR in Hopalloo Village who shoots tornados at you, Jayabaya in the Hungry Jungle who uses his strength to try to overpower you or Oldie in the Frozen Mountains who uses her power of duplication to fool you - even out of all of those bosses and enemies, my favorite has to be the baddies located in The Dark Forest. I have to admit, I didn't expect it when I started playing, but as I searched the forest, I heard music in the distance and when I finally got there, I couldn't believe my eyes, It was the Battletoads. Holy crap. I'm a huge fan. They were throwing a killer concert. But sorry boys, I'm on a schedule. So I killed them and all their froggy friends. Good stuff.
Now I still have a few more things I need to talk about before we wrap this up that relates to the extra in game content, but that will be in my usual Extra Stuff section that follows this one. However before I get to that, I think I need to air some of my grievances. I don't have many and they aren't that huge, but I like to be as transparent as possible when giving my opinion on things. There is always good and bad in anything, no question. Wait? are you questioning me again? you remember what happened last time don't you? That's right. That's what I thought. So anyways. The first of my gripes has to do with the jumping. Let me say it first before it gets twisted though, this games platforming feels SO damn good, everything is responsive, fluid and it feels just as great as a Crash game or even Mario. However where it lacks in that department is the characters jump momentum. You see in other platformers on the market, when you jump, the momentum will carry you forward, but here in Kao when you jump its like all momentum stops half way through the jump and it takes some getting used to. Another gripe I have is sometimes the games hit boxes and sky box detection can feel a tad bit wonky. There were times where I would jump with nothing in front of me, clear sky or open roof and I'd hit an invisible wall above me with no object blocking my way and this caused me to die several times. Its a very weird bug that doesn't happen often, but when it does, it gives you a bad time. My last gripe relates to the boss fights like Jayabaya. The fight itself is fine, sure, but every now and then when he switches phases of attack, he sends enemies at you, but a lot of the time the enemy A.I. completely shuts off and they stand there motionless like they're Kanye West trying to show they have no emotion. Even when attacking them its like ''Come on! Do something!''. Its annoying, but not game breaking.
When you've kicked the main games butt and saw all its variety that it offers you, like sliding on rails like you're sonic, using your big ol ears to shimmy across platforms, using your eternal rope power to swing from one platform to another - you can then take part in collecting everything there is in the game, which can boost your 8 hour game time to roughly 10 or 11 hours of additional fun. Take part in Eternal Wells that are hidden throughout the game which are small endurance stages that tests your wits and combat ability, collect kaopedia scrolls that give you information about all the treasure in the game you collect, collect all 50 Runes in the game just to have them all, find and obtain all K.A.O. letters hidden behind secret paths and entrances, sort of like Donkey Kong or Bart versus the Space Mutants where you have to spell out Maggie, purchase extra lives, heart pieces and styling clothes for Kao to wear, including a skin of his Retro model from 2000, which looks super funky ,but really awesome. You can also talk to Walt about collecting all the Blue Crystals in the game that you find in each mini game Eternal Well or even across each section of every level. You know its rather ironic. This masters name is Walt and collecting involves Blue Crystals. I better not hear one word of him telling me ''ITS TIME TO COOK'' or I'm out of here.
At the end of the day, Kao The Kangaroo lived up to my own expectations. But kind of in a way, exceeded them. I expected going into this title to at least get somewhat of an enjoyment out of it. But I didn't think I would have this much fun with it if I can be honest here. While not being perfect, sure, with the enemies freezing, sky hit box being broken sometimes, jumping momentum not always working with the player properly - this game still leaves you with a good feeling inside from start to finish. Its funny, its charming, the design of its characters, enemies and world feels thought out and realized, the music is fantastic and reminiscent of classic platformers form the 90's and early 2000s, its platforming feels fun alongside the creative environments, hazards and puzzles. Everything just looks and screams fun to me. At this point in time I can easily say this is my favorite collectathon of 2022 at this current stage of the year and if you're a fan of classic platformers and just feel like having a good time. I cannot recommend this one enough. I think you're in for a real treat personally. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear. GameNChick says BUY NOW.