bhlaab's Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 (PC) review

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  • bhlaab has written a total of 87 reviews. The last one was for Hedon

Below Mediocre

Kao Round 2 is a Polish 3D platformer from the PS2 era. The character is a little kangaroo man with boxing gloves, which isn't exactly inspired but whatever. It "borrows" a lot of stuff from Rayman 2 and a little bit from Crash Bandicoot. Kao isn't the bottom of the mascot barrel, but he's decidedly below average.

The plot has Kao rescuing his animal friends, who have all been captured by The Hunter because he's mean and likes to do that. You do spend plenty of time rescuing animals, but you're also attacked by acid spitting spiders and giant fish. Are these guys in league with The Hunter? Why doesn't he want to capture them? You might say I'm thinking about this too much, but the boss of the underwater world is specifically name-checked as a collaborator. Also, for some reason a lot of The Hunter's thugs seem to be dwarves and I don't know why.

Dwarf
Dwarf

Where Kao 2 really falls apart are the controls. They aren't tragically bad like in a Bubsy 3D, but his turning radius and responsiveness are very poor. You'd think a game about a kangaroo with boxing gloves would focus on punching things, but combat is the worst. Punching kills Kao's momentum and collision detection for all attacks is unforgiving. The stop-and-start tempo makes even the reliably enjoyable id act of smashing a bunch of crates to collect money feel like a chore. Your best option for all combat is the ranged boomerang throw, but boomerang ammunition is limited and only provided when the level designers allow it.

Game design decorum is broken quite often. Enemy attacks and things like crumbling platforms are very poorly telegraphed. Crash-style 'run towards the camera' levels move too fast for you to be able to react to oncoming obstacles in time, requiring a ton of trial and error. Overall readability is not well done. For one example, some bodies of water will kill Kao instantly upon contact, while some he can walk through just fine even though they are visually indistinct. The method for fighting the boss of the first world is so poorly conveyed that I had to look up a guide. Fortunately, failure is usually very forgiving. Kao has a long health bar, infinite lives, and frequent checkpoints. However, this doesn't mitigate the frustration of being killed over and over again by blind 'gotcha' traps.

Kao 2 is very short. I beat it in two sittings, with a total 3 hour playtime. I think it goes for about $1.79 usd on your average Steam sale, which I'd say is the right price.

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