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Review: Kao the Kangaroo (Nintendo Switch)By Sandy Wilson At 25.09.2022 06:58

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Older games in the KAO series before this reboot were story-light, with stories made to give a reason for the changing world and areas Kao explores. This time however this weaves a somewhat more involved dialogue centred around a nightmare Kao has at the opening, and him tracking down his sister. In a very… Crash Bandicoot 4 way, Kao now has multidimensional powers thanks to his father's boxing gloves.

Most of the characters have voice acting and the story does have fully in-engine cutscenes that help give life to the characters and momentum to the story. The issue with the story comes with the choice to meme up the writing on occasion leading to some very stilted dialogue with forced references that make little sense in the world these characters inhabit. This is also seen in the voice acting which can be quite flat.

Design-wise this changes up a lot from the previous Kao titles. Gone is the PS1/2-era, googly eyed Kao of the past, and here is the new much more modern, more traditionally shaped, anthropomorphised kangaroo. The designers seem to be aiming for a slightly chunky, more Pixar-esque look and it's really quite a nice clean art style as all the characters look and animate in a pleasing way. Levels and worlds are somewhat verging on generic, but tread the line carefully, and have some great locations in every set of levels. Each set is based on a hub area, and these hubs feature unique denizens and local flora and fauna. Said areas are relatively sparsely decorated but very pleasing to explore with little nooks and crannies as well as interactive objects to punch.

Levels themselves lean heavily on light problem solving, and feature plenty of combat. Unlike in previous entries this time Kao has a pretty decent move set, and combat has a great feeling. There is a life system but during review the fail state was never reached as the difficulty level is set at a good middle ground with only the occasional flare up or down depending on the scenario. Boss fights are well designed and are where the combat and puzzle-solving come into force. It's quite impressive just how well the gameplay styles combine to make these encounters a pleasure to beat.

Kao can access elemental powers as well as activate rift sections of levels. These add to the puzzle-solving aspect, meaning that players will have to find the right element and then use that to unbar routes through levels or get to collectables. Speaking of collectables, each level has a set of KAO letters to collect alongside currency that can be used to accessorise and dress Kao up using the shop feature. This adds an element of replayability which is great considering this is not overly long. There are some nice little flairs in there too like Kao's neck in the old games would stretch when entering deep water to give players an easy indicator of where Kao is standing in the water. This is still happening in this new title and is still pretty cute and funny.

On Switch there are some negatives to make note of. The framerate can be unstable, meaning the controls can suffer from quite some delay in a handful of screens. This also has a run in with the dynamic resolution this employs to help stability. There are a few places where the visuals can get exceedingly blurry. It's at no point unplayable, but obviously this is a problem the game doesn't have this on other platforms.

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Final Score
A great little 3D platformer that does it's best to give players a solid and exciting experience featuring a much more refined and redesigned Kao core experience and story. [i]Kao the Kangaroo[/i] should impress with its solid controls and strong visual design - if players can accept the drops in visual quality on Switch then this is a hearty recommendation to all players of such titles.

8

/10

User Comments
#1 Insanoflex - on 25.09.2022 at 13:57

i miss when games used to look like this

#2 Sandy Wilson - on 25.09.2022 at 16:37

Haha yeah, it's a great one!


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