Review: Kao the Kangaroo (Nintendo Switch)
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Kao the Kangaroo takes me back a few console generations. There was a period of time in the late ‘90s to mid 2000s where every game console got a dozen or more 3D platformers. They featured all sorts of mascots and their quality ranged from top-tier to semi-broken and unplayable. Kao the Kangaroo fell into the middle ground – not great, but definitely not bad.
The original Kao first came out on the Sega Dreamcast. While this version didn’t quite stick for me, 20 years later the developers behind the franchise decided to give it a full reboot. It may not be perfect or truly reminiscent of that era of 3D platformers, but Kao the Kangaroo does enough to be a fun recommendation.
The first thing that pops out when you play Kao the Kangaroo is its art style. This game does not try to hide its inspiration at all. If you play the newest game in the Crash Bandicoot series, then everything about the visuals of this game will look familiar. That’s not a bad thing, as the art style really does a great job at not only making the game feel modern but also fresh. Not many games have used this art style since Crash Bandicoot 4, so it’s nice to see another 3D platformer use it.
Another thing about Kao the Kangaroo is that it’s simple. Unlike the previously mentioned Crash Bandicoot series, which prides itself on tough challenges and even tougher platforming, Kao the Kangaroo takes an easier approach. No 3D platforming section feels impossible or even that hard. I managed to play through a large section of the game, including multiple bosses, before ever dying (and that was only because I wasn’t paying attention during a particular section of the game). It’s a somewhat refreshing change; I don’t need every 3D platformer to try to be the next Dark Souls.
Overall, what you get out of Kao the Kangaroo is a quite lengthy and fun experience. I did not 100% the game, however I managed to complete the main story in about 10 hours. Each of the different worlds you visit has unique scenery that changes things up and stops the game from feeling dull.
That said, Kao the Kangaroo does have a couple of issues. Like I mentioned above, Kao the Kangaroo is not hard. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however it will impact replayability. It’s easy to see and collect every single thing on offer during your first play through, meaning that once you complete the game there’s no reason for you to go back and play it again. It also means you’ll never feel truly challenged while playing. It’s not a huge negative, it’s just something that might impact your overall feeling of the title.
Another issue has to do with the overall quality. As I mentioned, Kao the Kangaroo harkens back to the glory days of platforming. Those games could be a lot of fun but most likely the quality and polish you were looking for wasn’t there. This version of Kao the Kangaroo has that same issue. For example, it’s not uncommon for enemies, once they’ve been killed, to simply fall down and pop out of existence like there’s animations that are missing. It’s also not uncommon for you to punch a crate full of coins and that crate does not open. It’s not game-breaking by any means, but it’s these details that separate it from other better titles. Plus don’t get me started on the voice acting in this game. It’s really, really, really bad and yet I can’t tell if that was intentional or accidental.
One last thing that has to be mentioned is the completely broken save system. In short, the game never saves. Despite boasting an autosave feature, there seems to be a glitch that prevents the game from ever saving once you reach the first area. This means that no matter how far you progress or what you do, if you exit the game you lose all of your progress. The developer said that this was an unintended issue and would be fixed in a patch, however that patch has yet to come and the developers haven’t provided an update on its arrival.
Remarkably this issue didn’t affect me but only because I put my game in sleep mode while playing it through for review. After my review was done, I closed the game and went to revisit it a few days later only to find all my saved progress had been lost. Ultimately, this issue will affect you if you choose to quit while playing, so be prepared for that issue.
In the end, Kao the Kangaroo is a fun reboot that should get your attention. The save-system bug aside, Kao the Kangaroo is a simple and fun 3D platformer that anyone can enjoy. Yes, it doesn’t provide much of a challenge and once you’ve played through you will have seen everything on offer. You’re not getting the next Mario Odyssey-like game in terms of quality; it’s clearly a developer trying to punch higher than it can really go. That said, the game itself is a lot of fun and a refreshingly easy take on the genre. If you’re looking for your next easygoing platformer or just something that anyone in the family can enjoy, you should check out Kao the Kangaroo.