Developers Tate Interactive have given a second outing to the rather cute, yellow fellow Kao the Kangaroo, a platform game that should be in the shops ready for the Easter market. For those of you who have not come across Kao before I can explain that as you would expect Kao is no ordinary Roo but in fact a boxing Kangaroo so he gets to bounce and box his way out of all manner of scrapes and difficulties. The blurb on the box clams that despite having an age rating of 3+ it is a "platformer for all ages", I beg to differ and would say that the content and presentation of the game is definitely aimed at the young gaming market, but there is nothing wrong with that as parents can relax and be safe in the knowledge that little Johnny or Jenny wont be exposed to any gratuitous violence or bad language.
This time round the little chap is out to save the world of animals from an evil hunter and his henchmen who have been capturing the locals and keeping them locked in cages. Needless to say it is down to Kao, of course with the help of some of his friends, to return them back to the wild.
The game starts with Kao inside one of the buildings of the harbour. At first you are left to your own devices and are able to explore the area giving you the opportunity to get to grips with the simple control system. Screen prompts also appear to help you with your quest giving advice on various important aspects of the game. By smashing barrels, crates and other inanimate objects in an environment hidden coins can be found, however you may also find that some of these items are booby trapped and contain bombs that explode or enemies that will attack you as you approach. As you explore your environment eventually you will find yourself outside in the docks, this is the hub of the game where you will return after each adventure. Here you will be greeted by a friend the parrot who explains the evil plan of the hunter he also tells you that the Hunter can be found in another part of the docks but the gate to this area is guarded. Parrot also tells you to go and find the beaver (who is nearby asleep on a bench) and he will take you to your first environment the forest to start you off on your adventure.
You are now able to explore this area. Before talking to the beaver it is worth having a look around the dock. If you speak to the guard you will find out that he is happy to make a little profit for himself and he is willing to let you through the gate if you can give him 3000 coins. These coins are dotted throughout each environment and also serve as a direction finder pointing you to areas that you may not have already explored so it is worth exploring each environment thoroughly. Also hidden around are a number of pink crystals. For every 50 of these that are found you are given access to a bonus level at the hub. These are locked doors that have a mat in front of them depicting a number, these are the amount of crystals you will need to have collected to open each door and there are 250 to collect in total. These bonus levels are not essential to completing the game but they do offer a nice little distraction, for example you have the opportunity to "button bash" to make beavers work faster to cut down trees to form bridges so that Kao can cross treacherous obstacles or shoot down enemies in balloons using a catapult as they fire at you. As well as coins and crystals there are also stars to collect. For every fifty of these Kao gets a boost to one of his skills, his tail attack is improved and he can stay in the air longer when he jumps. When you finally have the 3000 coins go back to the guard at the hub and he will gratefully relieve you of your stash and open the gate to the other side of town. Now you can find the hunter finally give him what he deserves.
The game consists of 20 colourful levels spread over 5 different environments ranging from lava filled volcanoes, sun soaked Caribbean islands to the snow covered artic. Kao also gets to control a number of vehicles including a snowboard, a motorboat and riding on the back of a Pelican. As with all platformers the game has its fair share of enemies ranging from spiders that drop from their webs to fire poison at you to puffer fish that explode when you are near and scorpions that will jump you and attack, all this and there are still the usual boss fights at the end of each environment. Most of the enemies in the game are relative easy to defeat, the boss levels may take a little more patience but younger gamers should be able to complete the game with a little practice. At the start of each mission there is generally one of Kao's friends around to tell him of his objectives, also the firefly will appear with some useful hints and tips on completing certain tasks.
Kao the Kangaroo - Round 2 is a nice little game for younger gamers or possibly anyone who has never played a platformer before. More experienced gamers would find it a little too easy but I must say it does make a nice change to play a game that doesn't depend on you being a member of MENSA to work out the plot and the control system. If I have got a criticism it is with some of the voice actors, I am sure they must have had voice coaching from Arnold Schwarzenegger as in parts it is slow, stilted and painful to listen to, but at least you do get the option of skipping these cut scenes after you have heard it the first time.