Review by WishingTikal
"KAO the Kangaroo is an OK kids game"
It took well over a year for the game to finally be released in America, with an all new box art which is probably meant to attract older players (gotta love how NA always thinks games need "cooler", uglier box arts to attract people -_-). Still, KAO the Kangaroo remains a game for kids. Whether you're an adult or kid though, Kao is an enjoyable family game, but it's just "okay". Nothing more, nothing less.
Platform games aren't exactly known for introducing good storylines, and KAO being aimed at kids doesn't help either. On one side, we have Hunter Barnaba, the evil despot who wants to capture all the poor innocent animals, and on the other side, KAO, who swears to save his friends from Barnaba. As simple as it gets. And just wait for the ending, it's so generic even kids will facepalm. As a matter of fact, nothing in the game is very original. It's platforming 101: jump, run, collect items. Don't be mislead though; this is no Banjo, Jak, Ratchet or Spyro. If I could compare it to one game, it would be the less known Ty the Tasmanian Tiger. In addition to both being kids friendly games, they both follow a very similar concept. Cartoony look, gameplay without novelty, linearity... and they both have boomerangs! Although KAO is a lot more straightforward than Ty.
In KAO, just as in most platform games, you've got the hub world, from where you can access all the other levels. It's a pretty small hub though, that only connects to five regions (the classic forest world, winter world, underwater world, beach world... and I'll keep the last as a surprise -- ah! although, you probably expect it, since this game offers no surprises). Each world consists of 3 to 4 levels (plus a boss), which makes for a grand total of about 15 levels only. Not a very big game at all, especially since the levels are pretty short and linear. In fact, I was able to finish the whole game in one day (not one sitting, but one day, mind you), while still managing to collect everything at 100%.
The game is also very easy and doesn't offer much challenge for older players. Younger ones may have a bit of difficulty with some of the parts though. Throughout most of the game, you'll be jumping over pits, escaping pursuers, riding down rivers, snowboarding, and other basic platforming galore you've already done in other, better games. It's not badly done though, as KAO the Kangaroo is a pretty fun game, regardless of its simple design. If you like the standard formula "Avoid obstacles, explore for items, reach exit", then KAO is good for that at least, and delivers perfectly what you'd expect from this kind of family platformer. It's just too bad the game doesn't introduce anything new, but it's enjoyable the whole way through. There are quite a lot of collectibles to find, although they are a bit too easy to obtain, and don't really require any skills to find. It's also disappointing that the game doesn't reward you for collecting all of the items, but at least it offers a few mini-games once you're done with the main quest.
Cartoony, cute, colorful. If you're into this kind of graphics, then you'll love KAO's visual style. The art is pretty nice, although rather simplistic. Technically, nothing really groundbreaking, but the final result is very charming and fits the game's mood wonderfully, thanks to little touches that make KAO's vivid and appealing world come to life, like butterflies and fireflies flying around.
That's the main grip I have with the game. The music is calm, slow... which sounds nice, but isn't very entertaining. It's supposed to keep us awake, but sometimes it made me feel like falling asleep while playing. Luckily there still is some entertaining music during action sequences, but the whole soundtrack in general isn't catchy enough, and isn't very fitting for that type of game. And add to this the shameful voice-acting, which is completely ridiculous. Thankfully the sound department is pretty good, no problem on that side.
A short 5 to 8 hour game. A tad too simplistic and easy for older players (unless you're a really big platformer fan like myself), but kids will love it, making it a great family game. It's fun while it lasts, and there's plenty to collect. Just don't expect it to surprise you or bring anything new to the platforming scene.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/16/06, Updated 01/23/15
Game Release: Kao the Kangaroo Round 2 (US, 03/29/06)
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