Platform: Gameboy Advance

Genre: Platformer

Publisher: Titus Software

Developer: Titus Software

ESRB: E (Everyone)

Released: Q4 2001

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Kao the Kangaroo
Score: 6.5/10



- Good graphics
- Vehicle levels break up monotony
- Levels are long




- No storyline to speak of
- Action gets too boringly repetitive
- Not too challenging



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"Unfortunately, due to the been there done that generic game atmosphere and  generally dull lead character, I have to throw the ďRENT ME FIRSTĒ label on Kao the Kangaroo."


There are tons of video games with members of the animal kingdom cast as  platform-action game heroes. Itís become a staple of the video game world. Letís see: Thereís crocodiles (Croc), dragons (Spyro), bears (Banjo), geckos (Gex), monkeys (Donkey Kong); I zooishly could go on and on. So was there any doubt we would eventually see a platform-action game with a kangaroo as the main character? Based on the combination 3D/2D platformer of the same name released last year for the Dreamcast, Kao the Kangaroo for the Game Boy Advance has as its central star the boxing-gloved Kao (K.O. as in knockout-get it?), who happens to bear a close resemblance to the Looney Tunes kangaroo who Sylvester the Cat would always confuse as a giant mouse.


kao-the-kangaroo-1.jpg (5385 bytes)          kao-the-kangaroo-2.jpg (6477 bytes)


This is a true 16-bit 2D-side scrolling-platform game that dominated in the time of the SNES and Genesisí heyday, most noticeably in the form of Mario and Sonic. The gameís goals are simplistic: collect coins (donít ask me why a kangaroo needs some type of monetary objective), parts of a key, bonuses and power-ups, defeat enemies, and progress to the next level. But thatís this gameís biggest problem. Youíve seen this game a dozen times over. There is nothing new here to attract the average gamer. Whatís worse, Kao the Kangaroo isnít remarkably challenging. There is a miniscule storyline (if you can even call it that), which doesnít become a negative issue because it has no bearing whatsoever on the gameplay anyway. Making this a story-driven platformer could have definitely made for a better game. At least you would have some reason to continue with the consistently repetitive gameplay. Your only real objective is to get to the next level, and thatís not even a difficult task. The gameís enemy characters donít really put up much of a challenging fight although the vehicle levels, where you can ride a snowboard, plane, or jet ski depending on which stage you are on, break up the gameís monotony.



Level graphics on the 27 or so stages can get a bit recurring early on as you make your way through the rocky jungle setting. But overall Kao the Kangarooís pleasing and occasionally 3D-appearing 2D graphics are the gameís strong suit. The environmental visuals, like the trees swaying in the background and the falling snow give Kao the Kangaroo a 3D look at various times throughout and make up for the lackluster enemy appearances although the boss characters arenít too bad, especially the first one, the big dragon. Kao himself is well rendered but harmless looking. I mean, really, who besides Sylvester the Cat is afraid of a kangaroo, even a boxing one?

Kaoís basic controls are the 1-2 punch, a tail-whip attack and jumping, and are adequately responsive to the playerís intended purposes. By using the top left button on the GBA, you can scope out a little further down or above or below you on the level you are hopping through, which is very useful on areas that have unseen hidden items or enemies. There is a weapon, the Power Glove, that sporadically pops up which can be used to neutralize bad guys but the tail-whip proves to be the most effective eliminator of evildoers.

The icon-based password feature allows you to easily save your game progress, because I doubt that once you get through a level you would really want to make a return trip. Checkpoint flags you find on levels are helpful too. You can save your progress anywhere on a stage once you unfurl it where you desire, eliminating starting from the very beginning of each particular level.

Unfortunately, due to the been-there-done-that generic game atmosphere and  generally dull lead character, I have to throw the ďRENT ME FIRSTĒ label on Kao the Kangaroo. Itís not a terrible game, but everything about it, from the gameplay on down, has been done a great deal more effectively in a slew of other GBA games with considerably more gameplay muscle. Itís good for a few days of diversionary gameplay that you can get out of a rental, but thatís really about it. Just as long as you donít hold it to the higher quality of much better games from the genre like Sonic Advance, Super Mario Advance, Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2, or Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, big 2D-platform action addicts whoíve already played through the aforementioned games and need another title to pass the time might find that Kao is just okay, not a knockout.

- Lee Cieniawa


(February 20, 2002)


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