There was nothing particularly standout about the Kao The Kangaroo demo, but I enjoyed every second of it and wished I could have played much more. Nostalgia hits me hard for this type of game, so I was happy to get a taste of something so comfortable.

I played the original Kao The Kangaroo (2000) on a friend’s GBA. I have no strong feelings for the franchise, even if I’m aware there are a group of superfans out here for a franchise with just three games under its belt. What I do like, however, is 3D platformers. We don’t get many these days, so any game that can initiate nostalgia for my childhood and the PS2 era of mascot platformers gets my attention. Kao the Kangaroo falls squarely in that territory. A recognisable character and levels that involve platforming, taking on enemies, collectables, secrets and enemies to spin, jump and, in this case, punch. 

The demo was only twenty minutes long, it’s a small taste of the Kao the Kangaroo game that’s released later this year, but I was thrilled with everything that’s here. It all starts with introducing how to double jump and attack enemies. Anyone who’s played the genre before will feel perfectly at home. The combat is easy as Kao punches enemies with magical boxing gloves and builds up a special metre to initiate a sizable AOE attack. It’s satisfying, and I’m okay with combat in these games quick and fast and with little challenge. Save that for the boss fights. 

When jumping between logs and ledges, the platforming feels decent with a little bit of weight to the kangaroo. Kao can grab onto ledges and double jump, so there’s a mix of old school essentials and new mechanics. 

I came across a few different secrets like the letters K, O and A to collect, coins — which I think was to buy stuff later, but I’m not sure — and then crystals. Plus, I found two portals I couldn’t access in the demo, which looked like bonus levels. Checking every knock and cranny, smashing every box, and exploring every direction the level could take you, I fell back into the usual structure of playing 3D platformers. It’s enjoyable to watch my brain process playing Kao like sinking into a nice soft couch.

What I played, and you can too, is a short demo, but I enjoyed my time with Kao The Kangaroo, and I’m excited to get my hands on the whole game later this year.

The demo for Kao The Kangaroo will be playable for everyone during Steam Next Fest (21-28 February).