Kao the Kangaroo hopped its way into my heart at PAX East

If you're looking for a nostalgic platformer that can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages, Kao the Kangaroo is definitely one to check out.


During my time at PAX East, I had the delightful opportunity to check out Kao the Kangaroo at the Limited Run Games booth. Right off the bat, I noticed that Kao the Kangaroo feels like it was designed with gamers of all ages in mind given its level of approachability. This is something I was particularly stoked about as I could easily see the game being one that I watch my four-year-old son play while cheering him on, which is something I love to do and often keep in mind when testing out games.

If you’re like me and are also looking for games to enjoy both solo and with your kids, Kao the Kangaroo is one I highly recommend checking out. Adding to this, it was even mentioned to me as I was asking questions about the game that a number of families had stopped by the booth to see what Kao the Kangaroo is all about, and reportedly had a lot of fun doing so. I had a ton of fun as well playing the demo at PAX East.

Kao the Kangaroo features fun platforming elements with puzzle-solving mixed in for good measure.

The platforming elements in particular are fantastic and feel like callbacks to the myriad of retro platformers I grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. Not only is it fun to jump from one spot to the next while avoiding death in boiling hot lava, I loved the incorporation of Kao’s special moves to activate things like moving platforms as well. It ensures you utilize Kao’s abilities to the fullest.

Elaborating on this, these special moves are centered around Kao’s magic boxing gloves which allow him to deal out things like fiery punches or icy punches as needed. Admittedly, it took me a while to master some of these punching powers due to the way they’re incorporated in puzzle-solving and strategy, along with the fact that the game doesn’t do much in the way of holding your hand.

For example, not knowing I needed to punch a boomerang with Kao’s fiery gloves to set it on fire first before throwing it at a nearby furnace that needed to be stoked. I felt a little dumb once I realized what the answer to that puzzle was, but in a good, amused way where I wondered why I didn’t think of that sooner before chuckling at my ineptitude and moving on.

It's a blast to use Kao's magical boxing gloves to take out foes and solve platforming puzzles.

Once I got the hang of things, I was fully locked in when it came to getting through the demo, while also taking the time to seek out collectibles and coins. None of the collectible hunting I did while playing the demo is required of course, but it feels so natural that I couldn't help but want to do it. It never felt like I had to go too far out of my way for a collectible.

Something else that was interesting to me was learning about the series’ origins in Poland, and how the game has been enjoyed for years in Europe. In Poland, the game was primarily active in the early 2000s as the Polish title Kangurek Kao, but had a lengthy lull period up until recently where nothing was really happening with the series.

For the sake of perspective, the latest Kao the Kangaroo entry is the first to be released after the last one in the series, Kao the Kangaroo: Mystery of the Volcano, back in 2005. With this in mind, it has to be exciting for fans to see the game not only back in action, but also garnering attention from gamers outside of Europe.

And speaking of getting the game back in action, I was told the game is largely a result of persistent fan requests, so on that note I feel like fans will be happy with the end result. At least based on what I played. A lot of love clearly went into making this game.

Visually, the game looks lovely and vibrant, the controls are responsive, the puzzles aren’t too easy, but aren’t too frustratingly hard either, the boxing glove mechanics are well-incorporated in both combat and puzzle-solving, and honestly, Kao is just so charming you can’t help but want to spend time with him. If you loved games like Crash Bandicoot growing up, you’re sure to love Kao the Kangaroo.

Similarly, if you’re looking for a game for your kids to play, Kao the Kangaroo is one that’s worth considering.

For more on Kao the Kangaroo, check out the game’s official website, and be sure to check back here at Shacknews as we’ll undoubtedly have additional coverage of Kao the Kangaroo once the game is released on May 27 for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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