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Kao: Tajemnica Wulkanu

PC

Game Description:

Kao the Kangaroo: Mystery of the Volcano is the fourth (and currently, final) game in the Kao series that, undoubtedly, many people haven’t heard of. Released only in a few select places (the states NOT being one of them), you play the titular Kao as he explores a tropical island while collecting artifacts to open a door in order to save his friend from a fiery demise inside a volcano… only this time, instead of dressing like a typical boxer, Kao now looks like Indiana Jones…with boxing gloves.

Those familiar with the series will feel right at home, as not too much has changed since the last installment. Kao can run, jump, double jump, punch, tail whip, stomp, and roll on the ground. Unlike the previous entry, however, Kao can no longer upgrade his abilities (outside of a single example), so the way he starts out is the way you’ll finish the game. Kao can also no longer stretch his neck to survive in deep water, so much like Sonic, getting your knees wet is pretty much instant-death. Not that it matters too much, mind you, as there are no lives and therefore no real penalty when it comes to dying. The worst that can happen is enemies respawning or losing some slight progress. Thankfully, the game does offer the occasional checkpoint, making traveling through the island a less painful experience.

As for the game itself, there are two things you’ll find yourself doing; exploring the island in typical platforming fashion, or playing filler mini-games in-between levels.

The platforming is, in all fairness… forgettable, but harmless. It’s not great, but it’s certainly not the worst thing in the world. Folks who are familiar with games like Spyro the Dragon or Banjo Kazooie will definitely be left wanting more. With that said, if you’re quite good at those then this game will be a walk in the park. Nothing’s too overly challenging, and while you might find yourself in a tricky situation every now and then, a little patience is all you need. At least the game does introduce some interesting gimmicks every now and then, and when using the paraglider (obtained after the first level), I felt it was a decent enough distraction from the norm. Overall, it won’t blow you away, but it might keep you entertained… at least, for a little while, anyway.

The mini-games, on the other hand… well, let me put it this way; if they hadn’t been included, then it would’ve been easy to call this game decent (forgettable, but decent), and easily recommendable to those not too experienced with this genre but are looking for a good starting point. Because they ARE present… they drag down the game and any bit of staying power it might have had. Basically put, they range from mediocre to just flat out terrible.

You start out the game flying an airplane through rings… which is boring, but it’s saving grace is that it’s short. Afterwords, the next mini-game, the “Virtual Race”, is where the game hits a brick wall. Imagine controls that fight you the ENTIRE time. Imagine coming to a complete stop when you bump into ANY obstacle. Imagine getting sent BACKWARDS when you bump into another participant. It’s human misery in video game form, not helped by the fact it’s quite difficult for all the wrong reasons. I spent a half hour on that section alone, just trying to get first place so I could advance the game… and yes, it is mandatory, and you HAVE to do it. At least the next mini-game’s a step up; you drive a boat through beacons as the challenge gets harder and harder. It’s not bad, and you might even find yourself having some fun with it. The final mini-game is flying in the airplane again, though this time you get to shoot things out of the sky now. This might’ve been exciting, had the music not ruined it. Instead of going with something exciting, they instead chose some very sleepy music, as if to make part of the challenge fighting off your own boredom as well. It doesn’t help that enemies can tear through your health very quickly, not to mention they are also hard to hit. At least you have homing missiles… that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. Overall, the mini-games are just unnecessary and not a whole lot of fun. You’ll be wishing most of them were over not even a minute after they start

I suppose one other thing to mention about the main game itself is that, in typical collectathon fashion, there are items to find scattered about the levels. While I don’t know their official name, they are little green orbs that are used to power up the artifacts in order to place them on some ancient door. There are 1,000 of them, and while it’s not necessary to collect all of them, doing so might be fun for those who are competitions. Sadly, there is no reward for collecting all of them… in fact, there’s barely even a reward for finishing the game, itself. Once you defeat the final (and only) boss, the game just kinda… ends. You get sent back to the hub village, and the credits overlay the screen as you walk around and do whatever you want (and funny thing is, you can cancel out the credits if you leave the area or die).

In conclusion, what is there to say about Kao the Kangaroo: Mystery of the Volcano? It’s definitely forgettable, that’s for sure, but there is some fun to be found… a little bit here, and a little bit there, I suppose. While the mini-games are dreadful and could have (and SHOULD have) been left out, the main game itself is at least decent, enough so that it gave me, someone who loves collectathon platformers, a decent enough time to the point I don’t regret checking it out. I think the biggest shame is that, as evident by many areas, the game was clearly not finished, or at least, not in the way the developers intended. Perhaps if they had been able to fulfill their original vision, maybe this could’ve been something worth remembering? Hey, there’s been four Kao the Kangaroo games now, so there has to be something people keep coming back for, right? Sadly (and maybe it’s for the best, who knows), this is undoubtedly the last time we’ll ever see Kao. While not the best way to go out, it could’ve been worse… much, much worse.

Recommendable to platforming fans, so long as they don’t go in with too high of expectations.

Not recommendable to those who’d rather have a bit more umph to their games, as it’s nothing extraordinary.

Content:


1 Translation
TitleCategoryDate
Kao: Tajemnica Wulkanu (EN)Fully Playable15 Dec 2006