The golden period of 3D platformers was an incredible time to be a gamer. Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Mario, Ratchet & Clank, Banjo-Kazooie, Rayman, and Kirby are all renowned names and franchises that will no doubt bring back memories. They certainly do for us. Needless to say, when Tate Multimedia’s Kao the Kangaroo (pronounced Kay-O) appeared on our radar, a game that reintroduces the platforming character after nearly 15 years, We were immediately fascinated.
Kao the Kangaroo 3D platformer, which is set to release this summer, follows a young kangaroo who is entrusted with embarking on a risky and essential mission to save his sister. Because kangaroos are famed for their boxing prowess, this title features the marsupial protagonist wielding magical boxing gloves that assist Kao in punching through the many enemy kinds who intend to cut his quest short. While we don’t know precisely when Kao the Kangaroo will be released this summer, we have got the opportunity to get hands-on with the game ahead of its forthcoming release.
Because Kao the Kangaroo isn’t a AAA effort, it lacks some of the elegance that other outstanding 3D platformers have. It’s rough around the edges at times, the voice acting isn’t fantastic, and the mouse and keyboard controls may be problematic. However, given that this was a preview build, it’s reasonable to expect that some of these issues will be ironed out and improved before the official release.
On the bright side, Kao the Kangaroo does provide a lot to look forward to. It runs really smoothly and appears to be highly optimized. Similarly, the visuals and environments are very impressive and vibrant, and really nail that 3D platforming aesthetic, whether you’re exploring the fiery Lava Caves, the icy Frozen Mountains, the verdant River Track, or any of the hub locations (such as Hoopaloo Island) that define each of the distinct major biomes.
In terms of gameplay, Kao the Kangaroo is a fantastic 3D platformer. Each level is distinct and presents its own set of challenges. There’s classic leaping and bounding across various platforms to attain a goal, all mixed up with combat sequences in which you’ll be forced to hit a variety of animal enemies (be it frogs, monkeys, or flies). We’ll state that the battle isn’t as simple as it is in many platformers, and will demand some strategy and skill if you don’t want to lose too many lives, especially in the early stages when Kao is more prone to death due to fewer available hearts.
To that aim, collectibles and upgrades can be sought and obtained in Kao the Kangaroo. The collectibles are mostly connected to level progression and could involve discovering K, A, and O letters buried throughout each level or snagging numerous gemstones that are strewn about. For the most part, these will lead you off the main path of the mostly linear levels, which means you’ll have to keep a lookout for nooks and crannies that hold surprises or you’ll struggle to complete each level completely.
Upgrades, on the other hand, function similarly but are often less well concealed. You can locate heart parts, and if four of them are collected, Kao will be rewarded with another heart to absorb damage before dying and losing a life. Similarly, life tokens can be collected in specific locations to ensure you have enough safety blankets if a level proves difficult. There are a few other upgrades available in Kao the Kangaroo that are linked to the magical boxing gloves and will infuse them with certain elemental powers, such as fire to burn spiderwebs that are preventing entrance to particular regions. The caveat is that they are typically level-specific and not permanent.
While the gameplay is enjoyable and reminiscent of classic platformers, Kao the Kangaroo does not appear to be a particularly long game. While we can’t discuss the entire game, we have played the first three major regions, and assuming you investigate all on offer and strive for 100% completion, these should take you roughly 60-90 minutes per area. Without giving anything away, don’t expect there to be a lot more places to visit after this to fill out the tale. While we don’t normally focus on game length, it does appear like this platformer is at risk of ending before it ever gets the chance to fly.