Kao: Conversations with Winnie

The trick for beating the third boss was obscure enough that I wound up resorting to GameFAQs to learn it. Like the first two bosses, the trick was easy to execute once I knew it, but I don’t know how anyone managed to discover it. By dint of having more free time they’re willing to devote to the game than me, I suppose. By now, I’ve gotten to that level that I thought would be set in China, because the icon for it looked like a group of people wearing conical hats, but it turns out to be set on an alien spacecraft instead. What I took for heads and hats were just some sort of fluid tank that seems to be a common component of alien technology. What can I say? The icons are small, and grayscale until they’re unlocked.

One other thing of note about that GameFAQs walkthrough. The game lets you know how many collectables there are on each level — that is, how many coins, boxing glove powerups (missile weapons that you can use to literally “throw a punch” at distant enemies, like Rayman), and extra lives. Thus, the writer of the walkthrough, one “winnie the poop”, knew that there was an extra life on level 3, but was unable to find it, and pleads with the reader “If you found it, PLEASE e-mail me and let me know!” In fact I did know. I’ve mentioned Level 3 before; it’s the hang-glider-in-a-lava-cave level where I had gotten stuck in my first attempts at the game, so I was fairly familiar with it. The extra life is in fact right above the level’s starting point, where you can’t see it unless you jump up the stairs to where the hang glider is and then turn around instead of going hang gliding. I think that my theory back in the day was that in order to reach it I’d have to find a place in the cave that was wide enough to turn the hang glider around and glide all the way back to the beginning. This turns out to be unnecessary; a big leap from atop the pillars flanking the stairs followed by a tail swipe to extend your reach just a little bit is sufficient.

Winnie the poop was a prolific contributor to GameFAQs once upon a time, but this walkthrough was fifteen years old. It seemed unlikely that they were still interested in this information. Nonetheless, I had to try, didn’t I? So I sent an email to the address in the walkthough, and was unsurprised when it bounced back, addressee unknown, a reminder that even the people who once cared about this stuff have largely moved on.

It feels like that happens more and more as I play the older games in the Stack. The more they age, the less relevant they are. It can make me question my motivations, but it also comes with a certain sense of freedom. To me, an essential part of the pleasure of playing videogames is the idea that they’re something you do even though no one wants you to. It took me two months to write a post about Hypnospace Outlaw mainly because I felt like there was a chance that someone would be interested in reading my take on it. Kao, though? No one cares about Kao. That means the pressure’s off.

4 Comments so far

  1. matt w on 13 Jun 2019

    I thought “winnie the poop” and walkthroughs sounded kind of familiar, and it seems as though one winniethepoop2 created walkthroughs for SBURB within Homestuck? And for Problem Sleuth within Problem Sleuth as well? I assume this is a tribute to the original winnie the poop.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 13 Jun 2019

    Oh man, that’s why the name sounded familiar! I assumed I must have read one of their other walkthroughs, but it was Homestuck all along.

    The walkthrough for Kao is dated 2004, three years before Homestuck started. However, the walkthrough itself does not contain the name “winnie the poop”, and is instead signed “Martin Dale-Hench”. So it’s possible that the name originated in Homestuck, and that Martin Dale-Hench changed their GameFAQs profile name in tribute to it afterwards.

  3. matt w on 14 Jun 2019

    “The walkthrough for Kao is dated 2004, three years before Homestuck started.”

    2004 3 = 2007

    2019 – 2007 = 12

    daaaang I’m old. Wait shenanigans! Homestuck started in 2009. I’m pretty amazed that my brain managed to store “winnie the poop” for that long. (I still haven’t finished Homestuck btw; the year-long hiatus took me out, then at some point I started reading it again and liked where it picked up a lot more than I had before, because it went back to the main characters rather than the Beforius trolls. Then there was a part where every character talked to every other character that I never finished.)

    Anyway the MS Paint Adventures wiki says all the depicted walkthroughs are by real people. It also speculates that they were drawn from people who wrote walkthroughs for Metal Gear Solid 4. (This is what led me to catch the chronology glitch, because MGS4 was from 2008 so Hussie couldn’t have got the name from there if Problem Sleuth had ended/Homestuck had started in 2007.)

    Anyway the important thing I had to say is that I really appreciate these entries on old games! I don’t even want to read most of the entries on Baba Is You and Heaven’s Vault because I might want to play them sometime, but I’m never going to hear about Kao the Kangaroo if you don’t write about it.

  4. Carl Muckenhoupt on 14 Jun 2019

    Whoops! Yes, Homestuck started in 2009, so the Kao walkthrough was made five years before, not three.

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