A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Despite the love that Kao's mother has for her son, she allows him to go on a risky adventure not only because his heart is in the right place, but also because he has friends to accompany him. The game shows how children should be given the freedom to make their own decisions in order to grow, especially if they demonstrate reasoned motives and diligence in preparation before rushing into something. Kao may be sassy and cocky, but he shows a devoted, admirable concern for the safety of his father and sister.
Positive Role Models
Kao has several people that guide him throughout his journey. His father Koby shows a commitment to protecting his people and family, even when it lands him in trouble. His sister Kaia demonstrates courage and initiative by striking out on her own to save Koby, which is the catalyst for Kao to follow in her footsteps. His mentor Walt advices caution in the face of danger, but allows Kao to have the space where needed to fight his own battles.
The game is filled with anthropomorphic characters, but Kao's mother and sister are women of action. In particular, Kao looks up to Kaia, and while she may not be seen for most of the story, her presence is often felt since she paves the way for her brother's success in multiple ways (and doesn't wind up being a damsel in distress).
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Ease of Play
The game has a default difficulty setting with simple combat, puzzles, and exploration with basic yet enjoyable level design. It's a great entry-level 3D platformer for younger kids. There are some minor moments of frustration with the slipperiness of jumping and consistency of the main character grabbing objects, but these are minor inconveniences.
Violence & Scariness
Kao slugs his way through all sorts of fantastical monsters and foes with punches, rolls, and tail swipes. But enemies show no signs of damage beyond falling over and disappearing in cartoony puffs of smoke. Some animals disappear in a brief shower of cartoony green slime, but this isn't graphic in the slightest.
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"Badass" appears once in a line of text for an unlockable story log. No other language is used.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kao the Kangaroo is an action-adventure 3D platformer available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The story follows a restless, optimistic kangaroo named Kao who sets out on a journey to find his sister and save his father from the clutches of a mysterious, shadowy enemy named the Eternal Warrior. With the magical abilities of his father's boxing gloves, he sets off with his mentor to rid other islands of the villain's corrupting presence. The game depicts a lot of punching, but enemies are marked by no damage, either disappearing in puffs of smoke or cartoony bursts of green slime. The word "badass" appears once in a text log.
Is It Any Good?
This platformer is a great resurrection of a kids' video game franchise from the 90s with a modern remake. Kao the Kangaroo has cute and wacky character designs alongside colorful, creative environments that will please players of all ages. While the dialogue and voice acting is subpar, the story and characters are characterized by a lighthearted and amusing spirit that captures the nostalgia of the 3D platformer genre. Indeed, Kao the Kangaroo is a wonderful introduction for younger kids to this kind of game. Combat feels nice with its punches, slides, and ground pounds, yet sticks to the basics with no complex combos. Other elemental abilities are brought in over time, but these are integrated with existing mechanics rather than throwing in new ones, which teaches players how to use familiar moves in different ways. Some players will be disappointed with the overall lack of depth, especially since enemies have little to no distinct weaknesses to exploit or moves to avoid. Some technical issues will also result in some annoying falls, but these are only minor gripes with the controls.
Levels have plenty of treasures and secrets as players jump up ledges and cross chasms aplenty. They can often be well hidden and accompanied by small puzzles that add a dash of optional challenge to the experience, especially with regard to the "Eternal Wells," which are bonus arenas that lightly stress the player's skills. Many classic staples of 3D platformers are present within levels, such as sections where the player dashes toward the camera away from a bulldozing enemy or slides down vines while leaning side to side and jumping to collect items. Minor glitches aside (like music cutting out on occasion or optional items not being breakable), there's very little that's original to Kao the Kangaroo's gameplay; it owes a lot to its inspirations. Even still, it distills the 3D platformer down to an essence with a casual, carefree experience that has some simple fun to offer everyone.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.