Kao: Finishing Up

I’m flying out to the east coast shortly to attend Narrascope, an interactive fiction conference. I was hoping that I’d have Kao the Kangaroo off the Stack and out of my brain before that happened, and it looks like I’ve succeeded. I took the final set of levels in a rush. I had accumulated 25 lives, and figured that would be enough. And it was, provided at least that I reloaded instead of accepting a death when it happened very near the start of a level.

The final set of levels, once you’ve beat up the boss alien, seems to be set in Australia. That is, it looks a lot like the tropical parts of the first few levels, but it’s got crocodiles (which function as platforms rather than enemies), and more of those dark-skinned primitives I was complaining about, and some long-legged birds that I took for ostriches when I first encountered one back in the shipboard level but which could just as well be emus. It all ends in a nice little puzzle-boss confrontation with the hunter from the intro cutscene that I didn’t think I’d ever see again. I guess it wouldn’t be a satisfyingly complete story without him, but I honestly wasn’t expecting a satisfyingly complete story. There’s also a nice bit of come-full-circle immediately before that, with a level that’s basically a recapitulation of level 4 in structure, but harder. Why recapitulate level 4 instead of level 1? Probably just because level 4 is more interesting.

Apart from the racism, the game is pretty much what I thought it was before I played all the way through it. It’s certainly not the worst-designed game of its kind — it’s got a decent amount of variety of action, at least, with its vehicle sections and puzzle bosses and maze levels (where the coins act like bread crumbs, showing you the paths you haven’t taken) and switches to side-view and Crash Bandicoot-style running-towards-the-camera-from-a-rolling-boulder bits. But when you’re not running from a boulder or piloting a vehicle, it’s mainly all about being careful and taking things slow. Maybe I’ll actually give Kao 2 a try. It was free, after all. Don’t expect me to post about it here, though, unless it really surprises me in some way.

No Comments

Leave a reply