Kao (Pronounced K.O) the Kangaroo is the reboot of the 2001 classic series released across multiple platforms in the early 2000s, with the last entry in the series released in 2005. Announced in 2020, Kao the Kangaroo is a modern-day reboot and offers a lot of new bells and whistles for the 16-year-old dormant IP. Will the Kangaroo be able to bounce back? In our Kao The Kangaroo Review, we take a look at that.
Kao the Kangaroo throws a lot at you. At the beginning of the game, you are flooded with information about Kao’s family and are expected to know what’s going on. Kao inherits his father’s gloves that help move the story forward. This sets him on a path to defeating four elemental masters of fighting and defeating the ‘Eternal Warrior’.
You are immediately expected to know about his tie to his sister, his father who vanished, and a lot more details about his past life with no proper introduction or context presented to you.
Just like a lot of other platformers in the genre, Kao travels to other worlds with an elemental theme to it. Along the way, acquires new powers and upgrades to help them in a future world. You will be able to backtrack to a previously inaccessible area in a previous world as well.
This brings us to Walt the Koala, who assists you in training. Throughout the story, he just drops subtle hints and clues about Kao’s father, the power of the gloves, and the corruption they carry because of their connection to reality called ‘the Eternal World’.
You also meet a good cast of characters along the way that help move the story forward. Outside of that though, there is very little they contribute to Kao’s main story.
The voice acting and story are just okay, and perhaps a future sequel can improve on it. There is nothing here that is extraordinary to mention.
It’s a run-of-the-mill platformer that offers your standard platformer tropes. You have your instant kill pools of water, jumping from a higher plane to a higher plane, and dodging a labyrinth of obstacles to beat the level.
There is a heart system, and Kao loses a life upon its depletion. Similar to the mask system in Crash Bandicoot, you can actually track this one fairly easier.
Kao has a good array of abilities that he picks up throughout the game. However, these are just variations of the glove’s powers to fight enemies of different elements. Of course, this further completes the checklist of stereotypes by giving Kao access to a boomerang weapon. Kao uses this to solve puzzles or open a path.
However, my gripe with the gameplay comes with the inconsistency. As early as the hub world, you don’t know which bodies of water are able to instantly kill you. These also relieve you of your diamonds and other collectibles. You start back at the beginning of the level with your collectibles taken away from you.
In the clear water, you are sometimes able to get in the water, and other times, particularly in the first level – the Dark Forest. You are never really sure if you can even go in the water or not.
In addition, while platforming, there are platforms where you need to stand for a second and make your way to the next one. However, these platforms may hold a bear trap or other element that encourages you to be quick. In my playthrough, it was difficult for me to time the jump on these and I would lose a heart on these 2 out of 3 times.
It’s these few inconsistencies in the gaming experience that hampered my experience in an otherwise average platformer experience. There are a few forced jokes in the game. Such as Kao’s mom telling her son to rip and tear before he begins his journey. There are other video game-related jokes but otherwise, this is just your run-of-the-mill stereotype of Australian culture, but the voice actors’ accents don’t really sell it too well.
Aside from the platforming and other mechanics in the game – Kao is a versatile fighter. He has a simple 3 hit combo with a few other combinations of attacks. Other attacks are meant for fighting the enemies in the world and solving puzzles in the world. The enemies are diverse and vary in difficulty with some requiring more effort to beat.
When you hit enemies, Kao is able to do a charged attack that does a lot of damage in an area. Apart from that though, combat is just memorizing a few simple combinations and knowing when to use each.
Graphics and Sound
Even though we played this on the PS4, the graphics and presentation is still very colorful and eye-catching. This is consistent throughout, no matter the world you are in. It reminds me of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy at certain points. Small comparisons aside, with the higher FPS on the next-gen consoles, you will be grasping at straws to find the graphical differences between the console versions of the game.
The ambient sounds and enemy combat is your typical experience, but the voice acting felt awkward at some points. Despite the massive push of Australian culture everywhere, there was very little voice acting to match the setting.
Kao the Kangaroo is a decent offering. While the Kangaroo still has to earn his spot next to the much-beloved Bandicoot or the dwarf dragon in our hearts, the recent revival of Kao, paired with the unlikeliness of us ever getting another Spyro or Crash game in the future makes the marsupial an offering for fans who are looking to scratch that platformer itch.
The forced insertion of associating everything with Australian culture, inconsistent and sometimes infuriating gameplay and the very weak story are only a few of the complaints I have, but if you are a fan of platformer adventure titles, and can turn your brain off at certain parts and just enjoy the game as a videogame, there is some fun to be had here.
Kao the Kangaroo is a humble offering to a dying genre, but if you are looking for a platformer to challenge you, you better pack boxing gloves.
What did you think of our Kao The Kangaroo Review? Share what you think about it in the comments below.
This review is based on the PS4 version of Kao the Kangaroo. The key was provided by Renaissance PR.