Kao Kangaroo Review. Is this the first 3D platformer league?

Nearly 17 years after the premiere of Kao Kangaroo 3, the 3D platformer from original studio Tate Multimedia is back with a new version. Miracles happen, but this time not a miracle on the Vistula River, but the developers’ response to the BRING KAO BACK campaign, which is noisy in social media!

In the wave of popularity to update the popular platformers of the Crash Bandicoot or Spyro series, it is finally time for the return of the Polish marsupials. Will it satisfy millennials craving a nostalgic trip to their youthful days? Or maybe this time Kao emerges from the shadow of the mustachioed plumber, purple dragon and other striped jams and leaves a strong imprint on the minds of foreign players? I hope that happens, because he has the paperwork to do so.

The new Kangurek Kao is not a rework or remake of the first installment, but a complete reboot of the series. Everyone should be pleased with this fact, because we are controlling a little kangaroo going on its first adventure, but there are also many well-known characters from old games, such as Gadget pelican.

As in games of this type, the plot is not very complicated. Kao lives on Hubalu Island with his mother, but he dreams one day that his sister Kaya is in danger. So he decides to go on a trip, during which he also has to find out what happened to his father, who has been missing for many years. However, Kao is not alone and in the fight against the Dark Warrior and his forces, he is accompanied by spiritual guide Walt and the eternal speaking gauntlets, which once belonged to Kao’s father. However, the young man has an unusual relationship with them, thanks to which he can see and interact with objects from the eternal world. This theme is also an important element in expanding Kao’s arsenal of skills and enriching the gameplay. This, in a nutshell, is the outline of the story, during which the kangaroo passes through the lands dominated by dark forces and deals with its chiefs.

Although the plot is simple, it moves forward smoothly, creating a pleasant background to the game. You can see and hear that the creators wanted to cater to players of all ages. The dialogues are simple and a bit childish, pleasing to younger players, but Kao occasionally wink at the mature player, like an immortal – Dark knowledge, dark knowledgeFrom the movie Sexmission. In the end, however, the dialogues don’t bring you to your knees, Kao, though generally sympathetic, is at times annoying, the jokes are as meaningless as a weekly baguette, and references to contemporary phenomena are sometimes a little embarrassing. But perhaps these were the assumptions of the creators, because over time it even became a kind of magic.

However, plot and storytelling are not the main elements in Kao’s Kangaroo and any other 3D platformer. The essence of the genre is the movement between platforms, overcoming obstacles and interestingly designed levels. And these elements in Kao Kangaroo came out to the creators undoubtedly exciting. Jumping and moving is accurate and responsive, the character moves dynamically, and we can only blame ourselves for each of our mistakes. The programmers at Tate Multimedia have managed to keep the spirit of the original, while introducing modern standards control, the highest standards. The combat is also very attractive. Encounters are dynamic and in duels with a wide variety of opponents we can quickly switch between opponents. We have at our disposal a conventional direct hit, a hit on the ground that does little damage in the area and a blow with a jumping tail. In addition, when we perform a sufficiently long series of blows without taking damage, we get the opportunity to make a powerful blow that knocks down even many opponents.

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When it comes to exploration and arcade elements, the developers have not decided to reinvent the wheel. We have a lot of solutions from the first and above all from Kangaroo Kao: Round 2, although there are some novelties as well. So we break all kinds of barrels and chests to collect the legendary ducats, we throw the boomerang, and we can also use our long ears to move. These are well-known themes for fans of the series, although this time around there are many collectibles and mechanics. At each location there are many alternate passages or streets clogged with hidden treasures, precious diamonds, and quarters of hearts that, when brought together, permanently enhance our health, or the letters of our name are scattered around each location, or a whole life. It is worth noting that collecting all items is not an end in itself. Dukat is a method of payment. In the center of each of the four lands available in the game is a shop where we can buy extra lives, a small portion of health boosts and clothing items. The latter can be unlocked, for example, by collecting all the letters that make up the name KAO at a certain point.

However, the main object of the desire, which has a plot justification, are the runes of the eternal world. It’s the right amount of it that allows us to unlock new levels.

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In general, the theme of The Eternal World has a great influence on the gameplay and defines novelties in the gameplay. After all, the gloves that Kao uses to deal with enemies come from this mysterious land. As the game progresses, they get additional powers: fire, ice and wind, which will allow us to reach new places and solve simple environmental puzzles. Another form is the purple crystals, which, when broken with gloves or a boom, allow you to use additional platforms from the Eternal World and hooks to swing on a rope for a limited time.

This is not all. There are usually two Eternal Wells hidden in every mission. These are additional stages of a different nature, where we have to reach the goal in the shortest possible time, collecting ducats and crystals on the way. So, as you can see, the new Kangaroo Kao has a very diverse gameplay, in which it is impossible to complain about boredom. It is a pity, then, that the game ends after only a few hours, because the variety provided by the creators will be enough for a few more hours of fun. In particular, The Last Land, which I like the most from a technical point of view, gives us the least content and the whole game ends in a hurry.

The difficulty level certainly does not affect the extension of the game time. Kao’s Kangaroo is definitely a less demanding title than the older parts, as the bar was largely raised by a wooden mechanic. At the moment, young players are not used to the demands of platforms, so the new Crash is very popular among players who still remember the scenes from the first PlayStation. New Kao is an accessible game, and the difficulty level reminds me a bit of New Super Lucky’s tale, although the Playful Studios production offered a little longer fun. Even the boss fights, although cleverly designed and multi-stage, with each new land conquered are no more demanding. On the contrary, the first boss caused me the most problems, for which I had to repeat the meeting twice. Each subsequent skirmish, including the last one, did not present much of a challenge to me. However, this does not have much effect on the reception of the game, as the duels are really interesting. It is a pity that the creators decide to throw lifebuoys at us, even in the form of weaker enemies, defeating them rebuilds our health. It’s hard for me to understand why a decision wasn’t made to introduce an additional difficulty level, even though it might be implemented with a future post-release update.

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The graphic design of Kao Kangaroo is the absolute top among platformers and the style is the closest to the updated games of the Spyro series. The design of the world and characters make a very good impression, and thanks to the great animation, the game on the move looks great. Each land is a large open location with transitions to new missions, has a completely new character, while preserving some characteristics of the game world. This means that even for a moment we do not have the impression of a secondary site, and discovering new nooks and crannies gives us great pleasure. Although I have to stick to something. The exploratory nature of the new kangaroo means that we can see passages and hidden places where something interesting can be found literally everywhere. Unfortunately, this curiosity often leads us astray and we run into an invisible wall or lose our lives, because a place that might seem within our reach turns out to be beyond our reach. However, this does not spoil the very positive reception of your presence in the world created by Tate Multimedia and I would definitely like to be able to return to it as soon as possible.

Kao Kangaroo’s great visual layer goes hand in hand with a decent sound setup. It does not stand out with anything special, but it performs its role as a backdrop for dynamic gameplay and complements the atmosphere of the individual lands. Local dubbing is also at a decent level, which, as I mentioned earlier, had to deal with very poor dialogues.

Unfortunately, Kao’s Kangaroo wasn’t in perfect technical shape before the premiere. There were individual bugs or glitches, although they weren’t common enough to spoil the positive vibes that stem from the game. My biggest mistake was at the end of the game, exactly a moment before the last game, when the game crashed into the system, and after restarting it I lost the entire chapter progress and had to start the whole last field all over again. Fortunately, this is the shortest of the four main parts of the game and it took me less than an hour to repeat. Another drawback is the action of the camera. In clashes or during platform splinters, I can’t fault it, it works responsively and doesn’t cause pranks. However, in narrow hallways or in small spaces, it tends to break through walls, and given that Kao’s Kangaroo encourages exploration and looking at every angle, such situations are very common. However, when it comes to liquidity, I have no objection. While playing the Xbox Series X, I didn’t even feel the frame rate drop for a moment.

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Tate Multimedia is a small studio that has managed to create a world-class 3D platform in no time. Kangaroo Cow has nothing to be ashamed of by well-known representatives of this species, and I hope that its premiere will resonate widely not only in Poland. It is a charming game that in a few hours will surprise many of our mechanics and varied gameplay filled with battles with many enemies, dynamic escape, risky descents and jumps that require precision. Although the game is not long, given its price for the first show (less than PLN 150), this fact could not negatively affect the final result. I would gladly pay more for more, because the new Koa is such a careless part of a great platform.

I definitely recommend it. Kao the Kangaroo is a must for every genre lover, regardless of age. And don’t wait for the promotion – the premiere price is very attractive, and I want a new and bigger Kangaroo ASAP.

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