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KAO The Kangaroo

Preview - ever wondered what to feed the kids?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer


Anyway, pirates. Interstellar ones. Nasty fellows by anyone's reckoning, and causing no end of trouble for a young marsupial called Denis. A Kangaroo by trade, young Denis has been thrust in at the deep end of Titus' latest 3D action adventure title for kids, and it's his job to rid the world of these heartless hinds once and for all. The problem is, they're all over the place! Denis' adventures will take him all over Australia, through the plains, the Tasmanian wilderness, past the Great Barrier Reef and even into space. It looks like his will be quite an adventure too, with plenty of variety to keep the little tykes busy in front of the Dreamcast. Denis skips, swims, snowboards, hang-glides and even pilots jet boats and Martian rocket ships. The style of play mimics that of Crash Bandicoot and occasionally the PlayStation's Pandemonium as well with its quasi-3D platform sections. The graphical engine is superb, with some really impressive visuals. The cartoon element is strong with some rich, glossy textures and cutesy pirates running around all over the shop. The other enemies, some feral, some human, also live up to the billing, and on the whole it's a remarkably enlivening experience to play around with Kao. Denis himself is the bastion of cuddliness.


Denis' fluffy world is made up of nearly thirty sprawling levels that should stretch the average seven year old fairly easily. Denis is obviously out to vanquish the evil pirates from Australia, and does this by running around in classic platform style collecting coins, bonuses and other pirate "booty". And naturally, bumping his oppressors on the head in order to proceed. The challenges are definitely levelled at first time gamers, and as such there isn't going to be much to occupy the mature gamer, but judging from the version we have been playing, it will make a brilliant game for kids. The pace is quite easy going, the difficulty level is just right, give or take, and after a couple more weeks of tweaking the game should be ready for mass-market consumption. I say a bit more tweaking, because in its current state Kao is a little tough to control. The controls are quite easy to understand and get the hang of, but the sluggishness of movement is occasionally quite frustrating. On several occasions I would attempt to leap a sizeable ravine and end up slipping off on the near side because the game took too long to translate my actions.


Still, there's a bit of time left, and with any luck, Kao will develop into the next generation of kids' gaming with a skip in its tail. The whole experience is very family-orientated, and unlike other "younger" games, it misses the whole patronisation boat instead opting for "like what Dad plays but easier". Should be worth keeping an eye on if you have nippers of your own.

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