Just like the world’s slowest boomerang, Kao the Kangaroo has returned to PlayStation after almost 20 years. The sequence made its arrival in the course of the early noughties, again when everybody needed a slice of the mascot platformer pie. This kangaroo with boxing gloves and a stretchy neck did not fairly attain the identical heights as his style stablemates, however the video games have a cult following all the identical, and this contemporary sequel is clearly for the followers.
We are saying that as a result of, in nearly each approach doable, this appears like a long-lost PS2 title from 2004. That is each and a nasty factor.
At its core, Kao the Kangaroo is an entertaining, easy 3D platformer. It is all about exploring ranges looking for collectables, beating up enemies with primary fight, and slowly unlocking new talents as you progress. When it comes to construction and gameplay, it is enjoyably easy, and evocative of these mid-2000s favourites. It is simply enjoyable barrelling by every stage in flip, making an attempt to finish every one 100 per cent. One might argue its design is archaic, and that is roughly true, however it undeniably carries a sure allure.
Kao’s seek for his lacking members of the family leads him by vibrant jungles, lava-filled caves, and icy mountain temples — it is all fairly textbook, however in a sort-of comforting approach. It is predictable, and that is really fairly nostalgic. As you run and hop by every stage, you are looking out for letters spelling “KAO”, gems, coronary heart items, and all of the cash you may seize. Linear ranges department out from comparatively massive hub areas, unlocked by gathering Runes. Kao has a three-hit combo, a extra highly effective strike after dealing sufficient injury, a dodge roll, double bounce, butt stomp — it is so by-the-numbers, you will marvel in case you’ve travelled again in time.
Nevertheless, whereas its old-school sensibilities are fulfilling, some points really feel dated in a much less fascinating approach. For instance, the writing, voice performing, and animation work are all questionable. The script is long-winded and stuffed with outdated references (Duke Nukem and Skyrim, anybody?), the voice actors sound uncertain about the entire thing, and cutscenes really feel stilted.
Past that, there are additionally fairly a couple of small annoyances that construct up. Sure mechanics simply really feel a bit sloppy. Kao’s gloves could be imbued with powers like fireplace or ice, which you should utilize to open up pathways and clear up primary puzzles. It is a respectable sufficient concept, however typically the gloves shall be fiery once they’re meant to be icy, for instance. Different small bugs and points come to the floor too; detection on ledge-grabbing is inconsistent, it may be exhausting to inform which our bodies of water are protected to stroll by, some obstacles are exhausting to see, there’s common texture pop-in, music would possibly lower out, and so forth. None of these items are notably egregious on their very own, however sadly the sport’s tough edges current themselves usually, in a method or one other.
Redeeming Kao the Kangaroo considerably are its visuals and music. The artwork model is shiny, clear, and cartoonish, not one million miles away from Spyro: Reignited Trilogy. Except for some aforementioned iffy animation, the sport seems beautiful, and it runs at a near-constant 60 frames-per-second. Mixed with a lovely soundtrack that units the tone properly, you’ve a recreation that appears and sounds fairly good. It is a disgrace that the general presentation is ropey, although — issues like awkward scene transitions, often jerky digital camera actions, and bland UI make the sport really feel a bit undercooked.
The factor is, despite the fact that it falls a bit brief in quite a few areas, we did nonetheless take pleasure in taking part in. Kao the Kangaroo is doing one thing proper, as a result of beneath all the issues, it is essentially respectable. Throwing punches is satisfying, discovering collectables is enjoyable, and Kao himself is a responsive character to manage. As if the final 15 years by no means occurred, Tate Multimedia presents an actual time capsule of a recreation, for higher and worse.
Kao the Kangaroo makes his massive return in 2022, however the recreation feels prefer it’s leapt straight out of PS2’s again catalogue. Regardless of many tough edges and old school design rules, it finally succeeds in delivering a enjoyable, breezy 3D platformer for followers of the sequence. It manages to evoke emotions of nostalgia regardless of being a model new title with its easy gameplay and vibrant worlds. It does collapse underneath trendy scrutiny, however it nearly will get away with it, due to its harmlessly old-school strategy.