As a console that has garnered the reputation of being largely “for kids,” the Gamecube isn’t lacking in platform games geared towards a young audience. Enter Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2, a game that fits perfectly into this mold. Although Kao’s debut on the Dreamcast was lackluster at best, the fuzzy kangaroo’s second outing is a pleasant surprise for gamers thirsty for a fun and simple platforming experience. It’s also one of the most easily accessible platformers on the market, making it a perfect pick-up-and-play title, especially for kids.
The first thing many players will notice is that the game is very well paced; there is always something to collect, smash, or traverse in the environment. The game ushers the player along quite well, which is essential when one considers the highly linear nature of the game. As a result, it’s unlikely that players will get lost or stuck playing the game as there is usually a coin trail or an NPC to help guide the way. Kao 2 is one of those games that, if you pick it up to try it out, you’ll likely notice you’ve spent an hour just having fun and progressing through the levels. Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 also features tons of variety. Players will engage in chases, battle royals, snowboarding, scuba diving, and just about every other activity that’s been done in a platform game this generation. While none of the activities are new or shockingly innovative, they are all well executed and keep the game exciting from level to level.
The standout feature of Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 is definitely the gameplay. The controls are tight and responsive; an absolute must in the platform genre. The game features a very solid physics engine that is free of any awkward clipping or glitches. Meanwhile, the sound effects get the job done and create a visceral sensation when crushing the various boxes and baddies that litter the stages. Kao’s primary method of attack lies with his boxing-glove covered fists that allow him to pummel his adversaries. Kao can also pick up boomerangs for some distance attacks, ensuring that players aren’t limited simply to close quarters combat. Players will even be able to upgrade their skills and learn new moves by collecting coins. There isn’t a great amount of depth in this department, but it is a nice addition and serves as a good reward for all the collecting the player will be doing.
The graphics in Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 are also of a respectable caliber. While they won’t wow gamers at any given moment, the level design is solid and the framerate never misses a beat. It would be accurate to say that Kao looks like a very solid Dreamcast game in the graphics department. The stages are standard fare with jungles, volcanic mines, frost covered mountains, and the like. While none of the stage designs are original, they do feature a nice amount of detail that give them personality and create a good sense of atmosphere. The music department is considerably less adequate, with bland generic tunes that are almost instantly forgettable. The voice-acting is equally dull, and the script isn’t terribly well written. It does just enough to string together the levels and push the story onward. However, it’s very likely that most players will simply skip the game’s unappealing cut scenes.
To be honest, there isn’t much more to say about this game, which in itself may be saying something. Many will probably criticize the game as being a very cookie-cutter platformer. Sure, Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 does absolutely nothing to push the genre forward; but it’s hard to deny that the game is a very fun distraction while it lasts. In a few years, gamers will likely forget all about this game and Kao as a character probably won’t garner the fan following of fellow platforming mascots. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to recommend Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 for the 6-12 year old age group. The fact that it’s a budget priced release at $20 should make it even more appealing for parents looking for a wholesome game for their children. Savvy older games, on the other hand, might feel that they can spend the same $20 on a game with considerably more depth.