Kao the Kangaroo is back in a brand new adventure! Scheduled for this summer, we had the opportunity to test a demo.
What do you mean? You don’t know Kao? Well, we can’t blame you… Born from the imagination of the Polish Tate Multimedia, his first adventure was published 22 years ago.
A mascot who has to save his animal friends from ugly human hunters, levels full of traps and various enemies, escape phases… The influences were already obvious at the time: after all, Crash Bandicoot was on the rise at Sony while Rare had also shown the extent of their talent on N64.
Two sequels followed, Round 2 in 2002 and Mystery of the Volcano in 2005. And each time, the feedback was quite mixed: the console versions were facing the same big names that Kao had inspired and the Windows environment of the 2000s was not the most ideal ecosystem for platform games either.
But Tate Multimedia did not abandon its mascot. Round 2 was ported in a revised form to PSP in 2005, but also as a simple remaster on Steam in 2019; the latter version having been offered several times, chances are it will haunt the recesses of your library.
Convinced that their character had not yet shown its full potential and strong of their small community of fans, the studio therefore embarked on the development of a new adventure for their kangaroo. This time, our hero gets his hands on some boxing gloves that belonged to his father and they turn out to be magical!
The first thing we notice is the graphical aspect: Kao is well and truly in the 2020s. No nostalgic polygonal rendering, the character has nice curves and is nicely animated, all in an efficient cartoon rendering. However, we find the same childish universe that was already present in the previous games.
Its retro heritage is found in its game-design: you have to progress from room to room by jumping on different platforms, avoiding various traps or defeating the enemies who try to get in the way. On the way, it is possible to collect many coins, diamonds and to find hidden objects such as treasure cards, the letters K, A and O or even quarters of hearts. It is also possible to discover access to bonus levels, but these were closed for this demo. So there is obviously plenty to do in order to complete a level at 100%.
With the controller in hand, the kangaroo can be steered with ease. One of the problems with 3D platforms has always been the difficulty to grasp the depth. Here, the jumps respond well (with the presence of a double jump to be able to adjust as needed) and the character’s shadow helps to spot where you are going to land. If needed, the character can always hold on to the ledges. The camera is also effective and always gives a clear view of the action.
But a kangaroo is not only a bug that jumps high; as everyone knows, it is also a formidable boxer (yes, because we tell you). And this is one of Kao’s skills that will be put to use: on several occasions, he will be confronted with several enemies and you will have to test your newly acquired magic gloves on them. And these sequences are also very maneuverable: the animal connects blows with ease and can quickly jump from one opponent to another. If needed, Kao can also deliver a blow that causes area damage with a little slow motion. It’s not Arkham, but these sequences make for a pleasantly varied game.
This new Kao the Kangaroo could break the curse of its elders and finally get its rightful place. The graphic aspect is pleasant, the character is directed with ease: the game adequately marries the current standards with the spirit of the platformers of the time. It remains to be seen how the other levels will exploit these elements in order to offer us an experience that is up to par.