In the world of Australian marketing there are animals that lend themselves better to games than others. Paranoid Possum, Kleptomaniac Koala and Super Sloth are perhaps three games that will never be made, but when it comes to almost alliterative Antipodean mammals, then it’s all about Crazy Kangaroo.
Here is a game that sounds like it started off as a title and then a game was built around it, but here we are with a top-down game that sees you playing as the titular unhinged marsupial, trying to escape from natives or other down under foes whilst jumping across large bodies of water using giant lily pads, beaches, mud piles and crocodiles amongst other platforms, whilst also collecting coins. No, I’ve not gone crazy myself, that is actually the game.
Playing like a riff on Frogger with a similar look and style and, at times, focus on avoidance, the game is split into two types: stages and endless, which really speak for themselves. In endless, the game of hopping goes on until you die, in the former there are objectives to complete.
In each stage you get three missions which, upon completion, give you coins. You get points for every successful landing you make and there are helpful items scattered along the way such as a life ring which gives you an extra hit when you land in the water or a slice of cake that speeds you up, which is useful to get away from the natives who are chasing you. Later stages bring other power-ups which I won’t spoil here.
Each stage mixes things up with different style and sizes of platforms and as you progress even the people chasing you vary. The change in enemies, power-ups and styles of platforms – in the last level of world one you get hippos you can jump on, but only when their mouths are not open else you take a hit – add a little variety to the game.
Graphically the cell-shading style doesn’t really test the 3DS but its bright colours and neat style will attract the younger audience that the game is aimed at, as it’s not particularly challenging. Each stage employs a final crossing point upon which you unlock the next of the fifteen levels but return plays of the stage lets you continue racking up points, stars and coins until you land in the water, hit rocks or spike yourself on cacti too much and die. Or pass out. Or whatever actually happens to your kangaroo.
With the 3D slider up you get a nice sense of depth with some high-up trees jutting above the main action but it doesn’t really help or hinder the actual gameplay, with the controls tricky to get used to but particularly straight forward, at least with the circle pad where you move your character left or right to time its automatic hop with a safe landing spot. You can switch to motion sensor to move left and right or back and forth with the actual console, which is a neat and effective control method but, naturally, not as precise, as it requires some correct angling of the screen so you can see where you’re landing. Just don’t try it on 3D mode or you’ll do your eyes a mischief. It’s a welcome use of an underused 3DS feature but not the ideal method of controlling your mentally challenged marsupial.
Whereas the top screen is your top down view of the course and an indicator of how far you are away from the finish line, the bottom screen doesn’t have much to do other than displaying the three missions you can complete whilst playing, with these missions varying on each play through.
Musically it’s very much in the repetitive electronic category but it doesn’t get too irritating as you play. Games tend to be short and sharp unless you’re playing the endless mode so there isn’t the chance to really upset you with the music. The sound effects are firmly in the cartoon camp and compliment the style and target age group perfectly.
On endless mode it’s one hit you’re out, still chased by the bad guys, but it’s your chance to rack up points in locations based around the jungle, swamps or city, but only the former is unlocked initially with the other two appearing as you complete each block of five stages based around that location.
The levels do start to throw more at you as you progress through them, from insects hovering across the screen which injure you, to thinner, trickier platforms to land on, which keeps things fresh.
Outside of the stages there are other elements to Crazy Kangaroo. You can use the coins you collect from doing well to buy upgrades, which include extra life rafts or a magnet to collect stars as you pass further from them, to the ability to use two power-ups at once and more, but it’s not too much of a challenge to get enough coins for these, though there are three levels for each of the eight upgrades which increase their power. You can view a statistics screen that shows how many stars you’ve collected, your best score and longest run in endless mode, among others, plus your current rank (up to mad mammal, which surely should be marsupial?) and a menu that shows how many of the sixty-eight missions you have completed so there’s plenty to keep you going.
I wouldn’t say Crazy Kangaroo is the most challenging game ever, with a lot of the challenge and deaths coming from misjudging where your kangaroo is due to land with no shadow to guide you down. The game is clearly aimed at younger players and with its cartoony cell-shaded style and funny sound effects, plus a constant variety in items and objects and slight tweaks in obstacles as you progress it will please them. There are plenty of unlockables to help you rack up the big scores and, though there isn’t a pouch-load of levels the endless option and unlockables will keep players going for a while, and at a cheap price there is plenty of good value in the game. And even for older players like me it’s not a bad way to wile away a few minutes with the number of missions to tick off attractive to the completionist inside all of us.
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