The transition to the new millennium, the 2000s, seems a long way off, but it was a great time for fans of 3D action/platform games. From Rayman to Crash Bandicoot via Jak & Daxter, many licenses emerged or asserted themselves during this period. Under these airs of nostalgic trip, Kao the Kangaroo is a nod to all these leaping heroes. But does he manage to leave his mark?
This may surprise some people, but this Kao The Kangaroo vintage 2022 is actually the fifth episode of the saga. Originally known as “Denis the Kangaroo”, this franchise was born two decades ago on Dreamcast, SEGA’s latest console, and PC (the game was also adapted on Nintendo’s old portable console, the Game Boy Advance). Directed by the Polish studio X-Ray Interactive (now renamed Tate Multimedia), the title features a kangaroo with devastating fists in a series of levels with a cartoon look. Fairly linear with its courses in corridors (a la Donald Couak Attack?*!), this first episode laid the foundations of a saga that has grown in scope.
Its sequel available on PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube offers voiceovers in French, a more impactful scenario, enriched (and much faster) gameplay and richer and more open worlds. The set is technically superior to the original, while offering an artistic direction reminiscent of a work like Rayman 2: The Great Escape and its sequels. Then there was an episode exclusive to the PC, Kao 3: The Mystery Of The Volcano as well as a redesign of the second episode on PSP (the first portable console from Sony).
The Gloves of Revolt
When Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 was released on Steam in 2019, developers at Tate Multimedia were surprised by the enthusiasm of nostalgic fans. Unearthed without great ambition, the title sold well and the studio finally created a new episode. Soberly titled Kao the Kangaroo, the game uses the ingredients of the first two parts while bringing all the flexibility of modern tools. We will quickly go over the scenario (a sister in danger gives rise to an initiatory quest) to focus on the attractions of this to restart – in other words, the reboot of a long dormant series.
After a quick tutorial, the player discovers a large village by the sea. This square, which acts as the main area, gives access to the different levels and everything is based on the ability of the kangaroo to recover ducats (the game currency used to obtain quarters of hearts or additional lives) and especially runes. These purple artifacts are indeed the key to the locked portals and we quickly understand that exploration is at the heart of this new adventure.
The avatar can thus walk everywhere in this open area, wade through the water and explore each of the huts to stock up on coins. To give some semblance of life to this environment, the developers have adjusted various interactions with the natives, with some individuals having a greater role than others. This is particularly the case of Gadget le Pélican, whose boat will be very useful to you in due time.
Once the first runes have been flushed out, we enter the heart of the matter by sinking into the dark forest. Assuming its old-fashioned structure, Kao the Kangaroo recalls great classics like Rayman 2 (sometimes even to the music!). Besides his destructive fist, Kao can double-jump, catch and throw projectiles, swing on the end of a temporary vine, spin and smash the ground with his posterior. Along the way, the macropodid (word to shine in the evening) will even have to combine his gloves with fire, ice, etc.
The game is based on a fairly linear progression in the levels, but wants to be more open in the different main areas. The humor is not lacking and the feeling, controller in hand, is rather effective. The hero moves well, the animation is fluid and the cartoon side works wonderfully! Too bad the fights lack precision and that the enemies (with the exception of the bosses, more worked) only serve as a punching bag.
A cartoon-like family adventure
Despite graphic elements from the Unreal Engine that are a little too recognizable (the 3D engine that was used to create the game), Kao the Kangaroo is a little delight for the retina. Very attractive visually, the game explodes with a thousand colors and makes young and old evolve in an exotic universe of the most pleasant. The various special effects are of high quality and the movements of the characters are well transcribed. A few aspects are more generic than others, but the title leaves a positive impression overall.
We thus spend our time wandering through the levels, smashing chests, enemies and other objects in the environment to recover ducats. The adventure ends fairly quickly, but collectors will be delighted to recover the diamonds, scrolls and letters K, A and O hidden in each level. We grant you, apart from getting 100%, it’s not much use, but it does extend the lifespan. There are also hidden wells giving access to platforming/combat challenges to be completed in record time. In the end, a very cute game and perfectly suited for a family afternoon!
- The cartoon art direction charms the retina
- Accessible and family friendly
- The bucolic musical atmosphere
- Pleasant to handle
- Difficulty suitable for children (adult help for bosses)
- Various decorations
- Limited interest from collectors
- No real reason to go back
- Imprecise and often messy fights
- A voice in English that does not stick to the hero
- No voice in French
- A little too classic in his approach
Kao the Kangaroo does not cheat on merchandise at any time. Fully assuming its heritage, it takes on the outlines of a rather classic platform game, but not uninteresting. Exploration, search for collectibles, confrontations against enemies and bosses… the formula is ultra-known, but the work of Tate Multimedia offers a great adventure thanks to its successful graphics and an immersive cartoon atmosphere. With more precise fights and a slightly more original progression, the title could have rubbed shoulders with the greatest. But as it is, it’s quite nice and Kao the Kangaroo arrives at the right time to accompany you with your family during the summer.
Give your opinion on the game!