Kao The Kangaroo Round 2 ReviewCain Dornan
It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find a decent game that is directed at the younger audience. The world of childrens games are overflowing with rushed, poor titles that abuse the use of licensed movie franchises to sell a considerable number of copies with little development effort. With almost every genre taking a more mature approach due to the age of the average gamer slowly rising, finding a solid video game appropriate for the younger audience that is becoming a hard and inconclusive process. JoWood Productions Kao The Kangaroo Round 2 attempts to create a vibrant, interesting and playful world for the younger generation of gamers. Unfortunately, numerous problems and a bland storyline prevent the game from becoming any more than your basic rushed family title.
Kao the Kangaroo Round 2 pits you into the control of, you guessed it, the native Australian marsupial. The whole blandness of the game begins with the lead character himself, offering almost zero points of interest. Large, bulgy eyes atop of his head are further disgraced with goofy shorts, shoes and oversized boxing gloves. It appears that developer Tate Interactive spent little time in creating our little hopping friend, and instead decided to create an unlovable creature that even a three-year-old would struggle to be interested in. Further worsening this is the rather pathetic line-up of characters that you will meet along the way. Characters will often overact various scenes throughout the game, particular when they first spot you, making it a rather embarrassing affair.
The game begins with Kao being informed by his friend Parrot that the evil Hunter is capturing all of the local wildlife and boarding them upon his ship. It is once again up to our unlovable hero to save the incompetent creatures from their ultimate doom.
The use of the various animal friends that you encounter along the way is a welcomed addition, despite the rather poor controls that come packaged with them. In one seaside stage, a pelican becomes handy to travel across large gaps in a wharf, with the aging creature only being able to travel a limited distance. A firefly, whilst not playable, appears regularly throughout the game. Said to be Kaos guardian angel, the firefly helps Kao to access previous inaccessible areas by unlocking doors.
On the opposite end of the scale, Kao 2 is filled with numerous creative enemies. Somewhat more interesting than the friendly creatures, the some twenty-five plus enemies that Kao encounters as he progress through the game offer varied levels of challenge, although, considering that the title is made for the younger gamer, all are defeated with a simple series of punches or whacks with Kaos powerful tail. The numerous boss battles that are encountered offer some interesting concepts, requiring you to do a range of tasks to destroy the evil creature. In one example whilst battling a large mustached-man with some superb evil voice acting, you are required to pound a specific yellow star on the ground at the correct time. Multiple mirrors are then available for the beating, which, in turn, allow you to directly inflict damage on the evil bellowing beast. Whilst far from a unique idea in any terms, it does offer some solid interest points for the younger generation.
To aid in Kaos adventure to save the animals, a number of powerups and objects are available for Kaos use. Everything from hearts containing additional health through to a flying helmet, which as the title suggests, allows Kao to fly for a short period of time, are on offer. Numerous other collectable items, such as the coins and crystals, gives Kao access to new areas and additional bonus games. Collecting Stars allows Kao to upgrade specific moves, such as longer jumps and a more powerful tail swing. Kao 2 also comes packaged with numerous vehicles that allow Kao to travel throughout the relatively large, linear environments. A catapult often becomes handy in destroying large hot air balloons, whilst the motorboat is a useful machine during high-speed races. Some rather enjoyable sections during a snow stage feature some solid snowboarding sections, requiring Kao to avoid large obstacles and avalanches.
Collecting enough crystals on your quests will yield a number of simple mini games, which range from jumping rope through to tapping buttons rapidly to form a safe pathway for Kao. Surprisingly, the controls have been dumbed down significantly, with numerous control problems coming into play that only appear in the mini games. This lowers the enjoyment that the simple, yet enjoyable additional mini games provide.
Although Kao 2 can be completed within a matter of around five hours, Kao travels through a decent number of locations, which range from a North American forest to a white-covered snow world. Each area offers a new range of enemies that fit it appropriately. Amongst the usual platforming elements, a number of chase sequences are also encountered. This involves Kao rapidly hopping away from a huge beast or natural disaster whilst avoiding numerous obstacles and collecting items to keep Kao moving quickly. Although these do get rather repetitive, the fact that Tate Interactive is attempting to vary the gameplay is a welcomed addition.
Kao 2 is far from a visual masterpiece. It does, however, offer a solid, colourful world with simplistic designs that is sure to capture the attention of the younger gamer. Character models are solid, complete with simple cartoon detail. Character animation is rather ordinary, though, with some characters, namely the Kaos friends, moving in jolted motions.
Apart from a specific boss battle that was mentioned earlier, the voice acting in Kao 2 is absolutely terrible. It is clearly evident that little effort was placed into the voice acting aspects of Kao 2. Sound effects are not much better, with thuds and footsteps sounding extremely basic. As a result, even the youngest of gamers rapidly becoming bored with the excessive pointless conversations and boring cinematics.
Kao the Kangaroo Round 2 is far from the worst platforming title aimed at children that we have played, although it is also far from being the best. Boring character designs and appalling voice acting does little to grab the attention of the younger crowd, let alone does the average gameplay. We were hoping to see more from Tate Interactives sequel; however it just clearly isnt evident. If you are sick of the rip-off movie licensed games, Kao 2 is somewhat worthy of a purchase, only if you can pick up the title at a relatively cheap price. Kao 2 is generally suited to a gamer around five years of age or younger, with children slightly older likely becoming bored with the hold-my-hand gameplay.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.