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Crazy Kangaroo - 3DS Download Review

Game Info
Crazy Kangaroo

3DS Download | Gamelion | 1 Player | Out Now | $3.99 / £3.60
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9th November 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

As you may recall, several of the many 
Looney Tunes shorts base a running gag off Sylvester and his son contending with an overbearing mouse -- at least, that's what they mistakenly refer to it as. In a misguided display of strength, Sylvester is often shown trying to put his foot down on the disturbance; hard to do when both his feet just so happen to be smaller and weaker than those of the creature he has beef with. Predictably, his foolish ends result in embarrassment, much to the shame of his son, who hoped his father would prevail. In some ways, the performance of Crazy Kangaroo is similar in consequence to the situation just described. Though the intent isn't as futile or as misdirected, this is a game that the majority will have no business with, not because it's fraught with mishaps, but because it's such a flat experience. And with the number of superior games like it in principle, it ultimately means that without anything to endear or drive players forward, Crazy Kangaroo is left to carry on hopping on its own.

    The birth of this restrained concept commences with the introduction of Barney, a kangaroo who, judging from the built-in ranking system, has been conscripted into the military as a special part of their attack force, and is evidently more content with fitting in with his brethren than securing a more intriguing identity for himself. In spite of his rather ordinary appearance (which I must say makes for good cover if he is indeed part of the army), Barney has made some friends in his travels prior to the start of the game, all of whom have as much determination to nab him as someone seeking to return a lost wallet to the fellow up ahead. What he did to deserve this treatment is up to the imagination, but I'm betting they're not upset about him winning the latest long-jump competition. If that were the case, they'd know they'd have little chance of catching up, especially with the pedestrian pace at which they move towards their target.

    Three different worlds await players, wherein your goal is always either to make it to a benchmark or, in the case of Endless Mode, survive for as long as possible. You get around under simple terms: Use the Circle Pad to move left or right as Barney leaps forward automatically, while moving up and down allow you to adjust Barney's speed as you see fit. The idea is to keep him bouncing off platforms and objects -- logs, lily pads, and even other animals -- so he can make ground on the forces sneaking up behind him; forces that remain out of sight until the gap between the two entities is miniscule. Occasionally, there are also short walkways where Barney can catch a bit of a breather by not having to stay in the air so long, but this comes at the risk of falling into pits and rushing into other objects put in place as traps. In all possible situations, you can't see too far ahead of you, and with gameplay taking place from a top-down perspective, this puts some pressure on the player as far as not getting too careless or making too many baby steps. 

    To a lesser extent, g
reed is a part of the equation as well. This stems from the presence of stars that serve as the game's main collectible, albeit the manifestation of this isn't nearly as much of a hook as in other games like this. Stars not only go toward your point totals, but also the purchasing of upgrades; if anything was to serve as a source of motivation in this entire formula, this would be it. Life belts act as one-time protectors against losing a life from falling into the water, rockets move you forward at a faster clip, and magnets attract any nearby stars. The developers have attempted to use these upgradable power-ups to prolong the experience, which first presumes that players will be drawn in by the idea of collecting stars in between the main objective of survival. Offering initial tastes of what these power-ups can do on their weakest level helps to ensure this wasn't a bad prediction on their part, but if I'm being completely honest, they don't do enough to add life to what is, in actuality, a rather dull activity.

    Right away, to help convey that there's more to the game than meets the eye, they've made it so that the three worlds feature multiple levels, with obstacles that change now and again among those belonging to the same environment. This is furthered by the presence of "missions" -- which are really just silly achievements -- that ask you to extend your session across a certain length, go a certain distance with an additional condition imposed upon you, and other things of this nature. Sticking to a rather annoying trend nowadays, some of these questionably reward you for doing the silliest things, like falling into a pit or getting caught by your pursuers, or doing something you're expected to do and really shouldn't be praised for, like jumping on multiple instances of the same object that appear in a row anyway. It's not that this is bad in itself, but it reeks of trying to give weight to a shallow premise, and seeing as these feelings are already sustained without even bringing these into the picture, it's a problem for Crazy Kangaroo that the amusement the developers were gunning for just isn't there in sufficient quantities.

    Getting back to the actual gameplay, though, there are issues to be had as far as gauging distance. The game is quick to dismiss visibly apparent elevation and accept the idea of an inconclusive sense of depth. I find it silly that you can still fall into a pit or get hit by bees coming in from the sides just for aligning your character in its direction, regardless of any current height indicated by the animation of Barney's jump. Throwing this principle out the window flattens the game's design from the point of perspective and vertical-axis relegation, and seeing as the gameplay is already flat in principle, everything about the game seems to take such a limiting context. Then again, perhaps that was just my trying to get more out of the game than is actually allowed for.

Don't ask me where the "crazy" part comes in or from, either, 'cause even though I tried not to read too much into it, I'm just as clueless as you are. Perhaps they felt the presence of power-ups would equate to a level of insanity normally uncharacteristic of the animal, but it's clear that that's not how this actually plays out. Considering that the game is somewhat lacking in the personality department, I wonder if the outcome would've turned out just the same if Crazy Kangaroo was branded as something more in tune with what its nods tend to suggest (which to me would involve replacing Barney with a frog who is either equipped with a jetpack or happens to have abnormally-sized, springy feet). In concept, I think Crazy Kangaroo was an attempt to tie the fun of trampolines together with classic, Frogger-like ideas, but with a less dangerous and more loose shape. Even if you went into this on a high point, it'd be a challenge to find anything deserving of even temporary merit in really anything this game presents.

    Presentation is probably Crazy Kangaroo's strongest suit, which admittedly isn't saying much...but go figure. Aside from a few very minor hiccups here and there, the framerate and its connected animations are fluid enough, and the visuals elements work just fine even without a dramatic impact from the 3D implementation. During play, almost every other second you'll hear Barney mutter a chuckle or rejoice over collecting items and successfully landing on a platform, which is something to be aware of as it may be irritating for some. Less irritating is the music, but it's also really forgettable. I also did notice a slight inconsistency in the movement of the level arrangements, and by that I mean that the same pattern of pacing seen in the jungle stages doesn't seem to be precisely at the same level as the others (i.e., it seems a smidge faster). But I suppose that's not a major thing unless you have a concern about judging distance against Barney's acceleration in the middle of a jump.

    One last point I should note is that with Endless Mode, you only have one life to work with, but you're given more tries when going at it from a stage-by-stage standpoint, which also can be expanded even more under the Upgrades menu. I thought that was odd, and this decision is also why the naming of this mode is a misnomer; with those terms, it should really be called Survival Mode instead.

    This kangaroo can hippety-hop all it wants but few will end up biting; and for the ones that do, it's very doubtful that they'll continue to stick with it in favor of almost any other gameplay experience currently available. Crazy Kangaroo doesn't jive or present enough reason for the average player to engage with what's largely stationary and uneventful. While the game doesn't have a list of bumbling offenses that can be cited against its design, I'm afraid in this situation that being "not bad" isn't enough to be worth exploring. I'd recommend saving your money on experiences much more worthwhile than this.

18/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Execution of the concept works fine but is limited, simple controls, doesn't stick to its guns and can be inconsistent in its design
Presentation 7/10 - A bit lacking in the personality department, fluid animations, relatively appealing visuals, audio aspects can irritate
Enjoyment 2/5 - Mostly dull with little being done to make it a more engaging activity, rather shallow with not a whole lot to commend
Extra Content 3/5 - Fifteen stages across three environments, Endless Mode, upgradable power-ups, ranking system and stats to track progress

Equivalent to a score of 60% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Crazy Kangaroo
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