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Kao The Kangaroo – Ken Guru

REVIEW – From our friends in Poland, the game is a return to an older franchise, so not everyone may instantly recognize the long-necked (and longer-necked in the past), boxing-gloved kangaroo whose return is one for the fans, but perhaps a larger audience can be addressed by the game that shares the same name as the original (I hate this trend…).

 

 

We’ve come from Titus Interactive (which deservedly sits in the bottomless pit of hell thanks to 2003’s Robocop…) to the Polish developer self-publishing the game.

 

thegeek kao the kangaroo 1

 

Tate-less

 

Let’s recap the franchise’s history: in 2000, the kangaroo was released for PC and Dreamcast, and in 2001, understandably, in a completely different format for Game Boy Advance. In 2003, the sequel, subtitled Round 2, was released by three various publishers for PC, and much later for PS2, Xbox and GameCube (2005/2006, and 2005 saw the release of the non-Polish PC edition…). The action-adventure platformer was published by Cenega domestically, JoWood in Europe and Atari overseas. The third instalment, Mystery of the Volcano, was only released for PC, and it was rather odd that there were two PC games with the kangaroo in 2005, about eight months apart (the publisher here is only relevant for Europe: Cenega, but there were also Russian and Australian releases). Then there’s Kao Challengers (PS2, publisher: Atari, 2005/2006, released in Europe first… yes, _THREE_ Kao games in one year, if you count the localization of part 2), which was a remake of part 2. And that’s it. Mystery of the Volcano was the swansong, but Tate Interactive (which merged with X-Ray Interactive in 2015) brought back the kangaroo this year and did it in a multiplatform form. In addition to the two PlayStation and Xbox generations, the kangaroo announced nearly two years ago also jumped on the Nintendo Switch and PC. His resurrection was made possible by the excellent sales of the first two parts’ Steam/GOG releases. TLDR: a Polish studio has stuck with its creation, despite changing publishers at about every turn.

 

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Can’t spell Kao without KO

 

The recap was all needed for the lead-up, and no, it wasn’t character filler. If I had to describe it, Kao the Kangaroo is a simple 3D platformer that accurately represents the late 90s: collectable items, enemies that can be defeated by simple combat, and a slowly evolving character that gains more abilities over time. Is it old-fashioned? Yes. But it’s intentionally so. The story isn’t highly elaborate either, but the Crash Bandicoot franchise started as it did: our bandicoot breaks free, the experiment gone wrong turns against the creator, gets his girlfriend back, and end of the story. Here, Kao is searching for her sister Kaia and trying to uncover the secret of their long-lost father, Koby. He must defeat the fighting masters ruled by the dark force, and then he must take on the Eternal Warrior, a threat to the world.

The locations are typical (jungles, icy, snowy temples in the mountains, lava caves), but it does so in a way that makes older players feel at home. Collect the letters K, A, and O on each map, but diamonds, coins, and heart pieces are also there. You can unlock the more linear maps from the larger central areas by collecting runes. Our kangaroo has a three punch combo and a more powerful attack that he uses after taking enough damage, but he can dodge roll, double jump, and as befitting a kangaroo, stomp. The audiovisuals are also quite pleasant (I repeat, mostly!). The art style is clean, friendly, and cartoonish enough; the soundtrack fits the game quite well. Our characters are easy to handle, and the controls are suitable. It’s a fun experience because the game’s design leaves no problems. For the most part, it feels as if the game was stuffed into a bottle at sea, and now, a decade and a half later, it has surfaced on the shores.

 

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…but

 

(I’m referring to the end of the fake ending of Doki Doki Yuuenchi: Crazy Land No Daisakusen for Famicom…)

Kao the Kangaroo is not perfect. I thought the game felt a bit buggy here and there. The ledge detection seemed odd; textures often pop up in front of your nose (Unreal Engine 4…), the music sometimes suddenly decides to stop, and the gloves are worth paying attention to whether they’re fiery or icy (this will be important for puzzles). But the other thing I would highlight is the voice acting. I asked a friend regarding the Polish original on purpose. I was told, “it does the job; it could be better, but that’s the norm for Polish dubs in platformers”. And… come to think of it, the English dub is about the same. Not sloppy, but it could have been better. The way the game is written is… eh, not the best, and the animation quality is far from perfect. There were a few odd references (Duke Nukem, srsly?), the camera wasn’t outstandingly good in all places, and the interface feels like it was lifted one-for-one from the mid-2000s. And these don’t sound so entirely negative… and if we were to treat it as a game set in a time capsule, we could gloss over these issues (sometimes less is more: e.g. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy had hardly any speech, right?), but it’s 2022, so Tate Interactive should put wipe the poTateo clean because as soon as we get to the bottom of the second page, we’re ready for the score.

 

 

Kept As Oldschool

 

Kao the Kangaroo wobbled between six and a half and a seven out of ten. Then I had a little chat with my Polish friend, who told me that it was a seven for him. And not being patriotic, he convinced me. The game itself does the job: new part, old flavour. If Lay’s brought back its wavy black pepper chicken chips, I’m sure many consumers wouldn’t like it, but I’d run to the store and get all of the bags immediately. It applies to Kao’s return. For the fans, it’s a treat, and for them, the score is an eight out of ten (and we’ve done the obligatory double scoring with that move). It’s not on the same level as Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time… but Activision Blizzard wasn’t behind this game. It was a veteran Polish studio that still loves its pet two decades after it started…

-V-

Pro:

+ Game design is simple, but mostly great …
+ Audiovisual is pretty good
+ Provides a pleasant experience

Cons:

– Sync, average write quality
– Sometimes buggy and a bit budget …?
– The camera (but thankfully not always …), some textures


Publisher: Tate Interactive

Developer: Tate Interactive

Style: 3D platformer, action adventure

Published: May 27, 2022

REVIEW - From our friends in Poland, the game is a return to an older franchise, so not everyone may instantly recognize the long-necked (and longer-necked in the past), boxing-gloved kangaroo whose return is one for the fans, but perhaps a larger audience can be addressed by the game that shares the same name as the original (I hate this trend...).     We've come from Titus Interactive (which deservedly sits in the bottomless pit of hell thanks to 2003's Robocop...) to the Polish developer self-publishing the game.     Tate-less   Let's recap the franchise's history: in 2000, the…
A passion project, with all its positives and negatives.

Kao The Kangaroo

Gameplay - 7.6
Graphics - 7.4
Story - 5.3
Music/Audio - 7.7
Ambience - 7.5

7.1

GOOD

A passion project, with all its positives and negatives.

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