Kao the Kangaroo might not be held as dearly in the hearts of gamers as much as other 3D platforming icons, but I still couldn’t resist giving this rebooted adventure a try. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a 3D platforming adventure, whilst the early gameplay videos I saw of this ticked plenty of the right boxes for me, even if it did look a little rough around the edges.
And you know what? That applies to the actual game too. Kao the Kangaroo is a game that I had a lot of fun playing, but there’s no denying that it’s a ‘little rough around the edges’ – especially on the Nintendo Switch where some performance issues creep in too.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Kao the Kangaroo puts you in the role of the titular marsupial as he heads on an adventure to save his missing father and sister, with a magical pair of boxing gloves known as the Eternal Gloves giving him the strength to battle through the trials and tribulations in his way. The journey is a dangerous one that spans across four different environments as Kao beat up baddies, takes on platforming challenges, and finds out the secret behind the peculiar crystals that are making the good guys go a little bit cranky.
The narrative of Kao the Kangaroo was very corny and lame, but it’s also kind of endearing in that ‘old-school platformer’ kinda way. It keeps things simple, safe, and predictable, but it also had its moments where it’d make me smile with one of its silly jokes. The voice acting, though? It made me cringe from start to end and I never want to hear it again.
Thankfully, the gameplay delivers, with Kao the Kangaroo offering an array of charming levels that bring with them rewarding platforming segments and some surprisingly satisfying combat. Kao has all the typical tricks you’d expect of a platforming hero, with him able to jump, double jump, climb, swing, and so forth, whilst he’s also able to dish out a few different attacks including some standard light attacks, a jumping tail whip, and a butt slam that’ll hurt any enemies beneath him. If you hit enough attacks in quick succession, he’ll also be able to unload a more powerful finisher move that deals damage to any enemies in his immediate vicinity. It’s your typical button-mashing stuff really, but it brings with it a bit more depth than some other 3D platformers offer. There’s a decent selection of enemies to face off against too, with some proving especially challenging if you don’t keep out of the way of their attacks.
“There’s even room for a few set pieces in levels, whether that’s running down a river from a pursuing guard (in the vein of the old boulder running levels from Crash Bandicoot) or having a speedy race down an icy mountain.”
The level design of the game is really good, with plenty of variety to be found within the fun platforming challenges to ensure you’re always doing something a little bit different. Whilst there’s nothing too difficult on offer in the game, there’s enough precision required to ensure that you won’t breeze through levels without a care in the world, but will actually have to carefully time your jumps and attacks to make sure you survive. You’ll have to use fire, ice, and wind powers to get through some puzzles in levels too, with plenty of little side areas to explore if you want to find all of the collectibles hidden within them.
There’s even room for a few set pieces in levels, whether that’s running down a river from a pursuing guard (in the vein of the old boulder running levels from Crash Bandicoot) or having a speedy race down an icy mountain. They’re simple concepts, sure, but they’re fun little endeavours that add a bit more variety to the experience. The boss battles are cool too, with the exception of the last boss – it’s one of the EASIEST and SIMPLEST final encounters I’ve had in any game, with it lacking the quality found in the other encounters of Kao the Kangaroo.
Kao the Kangaroo isn’t a particularly long game, with my playthrough lasting around six hours – I even managed to grab the vast majority of the collectibles in that time, with just a few Diamonds and collectible K-A-O letters left behind. It didn’t feel too short that players will feel short-changed by the game, but it would have been nice to have a few more levels to play through.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Visually, Kao the Kangaroo looks pretty good, with some really charming locales on offer that change things up on a regular basis. I played through the entire game on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode and the resolution held up well for the most part, though there were a few instances in combat where I’d notice the action could get a little blurry. It was mostly fine though and the likes of the icy mountains, bustling jungles, and lava-filled caverns were full of pretty sights.
The overall performance on the other hand was a little bit inconsistent. Now for the most part it’d be fine, and I didn’t have any big issues playing through the adventure – however, if there were a lot of enemies on the screen at once or a lot of coins appeared, I’d notice quite a bit of frame stuttering. There was even one instance where the gameplay came to a complete halt for a second to catch up, which was a little jarring when playing. Fortunately, these issues weren’t frequent enough for them to feel like a real game-breaking problem, but they’re definitely noticeable.
I encountered other little technical oddities too, with things like ‘Quest Name’ showing up on the screen instead of the quest, the magic HUD displaying the wrong element being equipped, certain objects not showing up in the last boss battle (which required a re-load of my save to appear), and the game not recognising that I collected Diamonds in one of the hub areas. They’re little problems, but again, they show that Kao the Kangaroo is a bit rough around the edges.
Kao the Kangaroo Review
Whilst it does have some issues, I had a whole lot of fun playing through the whimsical platforming adventure of Kao the Kangaroo. The level design is neat and brings plenty of variety, the world is full of colour and charming sights, the combat is slick and brings with it some neat moves… it surprised me just how much the game offered and, if I’m being honest, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.
There’s no doubting that it’s rough around the edges though, with the performance on the Nintendo Switch a little inconsistent and plenty of little technical issues popping up that could be a nuisance. There’s nothing game-breaking and for the most part they’re forgivable, but they could definitely do with ironing out to make the game more enjoyable for players. And don’t get me started on that voice acting…
Fortunately, there’s a lot more good than bad in Kao the Kangaroo and it genuinely stood out as an enjoyable 3D platforming adventure. It might not hit the heights of some of its contemporaries, but all fans of the genre should check out this rebooted adventure.
Developer: Tate Multimedia
Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC