Kao the Kangaroo review: Knock yourself out

Kao the Kangaroo (2022) from Tate Multimedia is a colourful revival of the Kao the Kangaroo franchise. The last game in the series was released way back in 2005 and a new entry has clearly been long overdue.

This iteration is a faithful homage to the saccharine platformers of yesteryear, and by “yesteryear” we mean more than 2 decades ago. This is a title that draws heavy inspiration from an era of video gaming which was filled with platforming legends such as Crash Bandicoot, Gex, Super Mario, Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet and Clank.

Heroes saving the day and all that jazz. You can immediately see it when booting up the game since everything about this title screams peak 2000’s platforming mania.

here your adventure kicks off with players taking on the role of the titular marsupial. Kao’s having a nightmare and dons some cursed boxing gloves to defend himself and save his sister from some ghastly enemies.

Unfortunately for him though, he’s defeated and suddenly wakes up from his nightmare. Our young kangaroo hero sees this nightmare as a message from his sister and immediately sets off to find her. His mother doesn’t even attempt to stop him and instead tells him to prepare himself for what’s to come.

Kao quickly finds his dad’s boxing gloves buried within a chest during the tutorial area and soon enough our hero is ready for an adventure of a lifetime. A boxing kangaroo isn’t exactly groundbreakingly novel stuff but we’ll roll with the punches here.

The formula here doesn’t drift too far from the tried and trusted platforming tropes established by games in its genre. Players will have to run, jump, climb and defeat enemies while traversing a level to reach their goal.

Kao has access to boxing gloves and can punch his enemies to oblivion. Punch enough enemies and you’ll charge up his special attack meter. Once this is full, you can let loose an area of effect special attack which is quite devastating when used at the right moment. You can also attack enemies with an aerial tail spin and can ground slam.

Later on in the game, Kao will be able to infuse his boxing gloves with elemental energy. This will then allow him to reach previously inaccessible areas by assisting in solving puzzles.

The environmental puzzles here are quite straightforward and both younger gamers and older alike will be able to get through the entirety of the game without much hassle.

There are plenty of collectible items in each level and exploration is encouraged. Thankfully the game world is visually pleasing to look at. You’ll want to explore every nook and cranny trying to find the collectibles since solving puzzles while exploring feels rewarding.

Picking up coins also lets you spend them on items back at the shop in the hub area. Extra lives and hearts can be purchased and Kao can also buy some cosmetic items to equip which alters his appearance. These items are unlocked by progressing through the game and meeting the prerequisite requirements.

Each of the areas in the game follows a specific theme. There’s a fire area, ice area, tropical area and more along with plenty of enemies to defeat. Progressing further involves collecting enough Runes to open up previously locked away areas.

The game features boss battles too and these can be quite challenging. Thankfully, their attack patterns are fairly discernible and these battles aren’t frustrating but rather enjoyable.

Kao the Kangaroo is legitimately a truly fun platformer. Sure it follows the formulaic nature of platformers we’ve seen over the years but there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. It’s still good, clean, enjoyable fun but may feel a tad lacking for more modern gamers.

The game’s only major downside that we’ve encountered is that the save system is seemingly bugged right now. There are times where you will lose progress and be thrown far back, away from where you last were, when you load up your save. This needs to be patched as soon as possible since it significantly affects the game and your enjoyment of it.

Graphically this game is extremely visually pleasing. The artistic direction and cartoony aesthetic with bright saturated colours is great and so too are the attack effects used in the game.

The voice acting, while not terrible, could have been a bit better but we’re willing to let this one slide since the game is clearly aimed at a younger audience. On that same note, some of the game’s jokes and references are good while others will definitely have you rolling your eyes while cringing at them.

On Nintendo Switch there are some additional minor issues with regards to its frame rate at times. There are some extremely noticeable drops when opening chests and collecting coins throughout the game. This is quite off-putting to see happening so often and opening chests will have you bracing yourself for the performance knock instead of feeling the satisfaction of collecting a tonne of coins. Hopefully this is patched in the near future along with the saving bug.

The soundtrack is filled with some really fantastic tracks. Hopalloo Island’s theme in particular is really catchy and gives off a fun tropical vibe. It’s great to turn up the volume and soak up the music in each area while searching for collectibles.

Overall, Kao the Kangaroo (2022) does a lot right. Its gameplay mechanics are easy to grasp and work incredibly well throughout. The graphics and soundtrack are great and it’s a satisfying platformer to dive into into in both handheld and docked mode on Nintendo Switch. The performance issues and the saving system bug will hopefully be ironed out in the near future. We can therefore recommend picking this game up if you want an old-school style platformer to enjoy.


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