Kao the Kangaroo

And now, a palate cleanser. A few days ago, Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 suddenly showed up on Steam at a temporary price of free, probably as publicity for some other upcoming game, and it reminded me that I still have the game it’s a sequel to on my Stack.

Kao is a 3D platformer, released simultaneously for PC and Dreamcast in 2000. Like in the classic arcade game Kangaroo, the hero is bright yellow and wears boxing gloves. Enemies include grinning purple spiders, panting venus flytraps, and pigs wearing party hats. Clearly aimed at children, it’s a bit like Crash Bandicoot without the nuance — it’s more polished than Bugdom or Rocko’s Quest, but it still feels like a B-list title, and did back when it was new. I picked it up a copy when it hit the bargain bins, but never got past level 3 (of 30), which makes you hang glide through a lava cave. I’ve already passed that point now just by relaxing my stubborn insistence on perfectionism a little — that is, I’m skipping the optional Challenge levels, but I’m still trying to nab every collectable in the levels I play. Because, as with much of the Stack, a certain measure of bloody-minded stubbornness is necessary to motivate me to play the game at all.

Apparently you’re supposed to pronounce “Kao” as “K.O.”. At least, I’ve just seen this claimed online; I don’t think there’s anything indicating pronunciation in the game itself. Personally, I’ve been mentally pronouncing it to rhyme with “Tao” or “ciao” all this time, and don’t intend to stop. If the discrepancy bothers you, you can always call the hero “Denis” instead. That’s what the developers called him during development, and the readme file on the CD still uses that name. It also uses masculine pronouns for him even though he clearly has a pouch, but I’m willing to accept that. Cartoon kangaroos have as much right to their own pronouns as anyone else.

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