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Kao the Kangaroo review for Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Developer: Tate Multimedia
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

I don’t think I understand why Kao the Kangaroo exists.

I mean, I’m sure someone, somewhere – most likely in Poland, given the franchise’s relative popularity there – is really happy that this game is out. Whoever and wherever this person is, they probably have fond memories of playing the original games back at the turn of the century, were pleased when the second game got a Steam re-release in 2019, and feel vindicated for their longtime fandom now that the series has been rebooted.

But judging from the contemporary reviews of those original games, none of them were anything to write home about. And just as they seem to have been the definition of “middling 3D platformer”, so, too, is the latest entry in the series.

Some of this comes down to performance. Kao the Kangaroo really can’t handle when more than one or two things are moving on the screen at any given time. The titular hero looks just fine as he’s bouncing through the game’s world, but the moment an enemy appears on the screen, or he collects a bunch of coins, or even when a checkpoint bell rings, everything slows down and gets really blurry. Seeing as we’re hardly talking about a graphically intensive game, that’s pretty bad. It never reaches the point where the game is totally broken, to be sure, but it also always feels like you’re one extra enemy away from smoke streaming out the sides of your Switch.

My other issue with Kao the Kangaroo is that it features some of the worst voice-acting I’ve ever heard. Couple that with the fact that the eponymous marsupial is full of late ‘90s/early ‘00s attitude, and it means he sounds ridiculous every time he opens his mouth. I get that the game is very much a love letter to those earlier days of 3D platforming, but in this case it just makes the game feel dated, rather than making it feel like a homage.

That said, if you’re after a game that captures the general vibe of that era’s 3D platformers, Kao the Kangaroo does an okay job. Every level gives you plenty of coins and baubles and collectibles to discover, which means that if you’re the type of person who wants to collect everything you can in one of these games, there’s plenty for you to do. Likewise, the levels are all pretty good sizes, so it feels like there’s a lot to explore, even if the levels are generally pretty linear.

But these things are only enough to make Kao the Kangaroo feel like an average 3D platformer, not anything special. While that may hearken back to the series’ early days – and it makes this game a perfect continuation of what the series did back when it was a thing – it’s certainly not enough to make Kao the Kangaroo a game you need to play in 2022.

Tate Multimedia provided us with a Kao the Kangaroo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-