reviewed on PC
Mario, Luigi? Is that you?
I grew up with a Nintendo Wii, and one of my favourite games to play was New Super Mario Bros, as it allowed me to play cooperatively with my parents and sisters. Kukoos: Lost Pets has a similar feeling as you can either play alone or with up to three friends in this 3D platformer.
The game begins with a cut-scene that shows the Kukoos and their pets involved in a gameshow before a tutorial begins showing players all the controls required for the game. Once the tutorial is done, players jump into another cutscene that shows all the Kukoos beloved pets being brainwashed by mechanical headpieces that had been placed on them. Gramma Kukoo hands you a potion made of Fwendly plants and players enter a door that leads to the first world and the start of the gameplay.
What is the object of the game?
The goal for each level is to release the pets from the mind control that has them captive. Once you come across the captive pets, they act as enemies, and so players need to jump on their heads, dash into them or smash blocks over them. This then frees the pets from the mind control and they are free to run off. Levels are also full of coins that can be collected and special flowers known as Fwendly plants.
Why do you need these Fwendly plants?
As well as the main goal of saving the pets, throughout the levels players will collect Fwendly plants. As well as being one of the secondary goals, these Fwendly plants can be used for things like getting new characters. These new characters do not have any new skills or abilities, but it is a nice opportunity to have a different avatar running around - especially as some of them are rather cute.
However, the Fwendly plants are not always easy to find. Although some are simply on the main path to the exit, some have been hidden in areas that are well away from the easy route. Luckily, the Fwendly plants make a chime sound whenever there is one reasonably nearby, so it pays to listen out for it.
The controls are relatively easy to begin with, as most of the important aspects are shown in the tutorial. Players move around with the thumbstick and jump around with the 'A' button and dashing with the 'X' button. Characters also have control of a special pet (one that isn’t under mind control) and these can be accessed with the right bumper. The pet’s ability can then be activated using the right trigger. Once each world is completed, the Kukoos then have access to a different pet, one with a new set of abilities. This help to keep the game interesting on each new world.
Bright and cheerful
There is a reason that Kukoos: Lost Pets immediately had me thinking of games such as Super Mario Galaxy and Crash Bandicoot, and that is the vibrant colours. Kukoos is full of colour, from the Fall Guys looking characters and their pets, through to the 3D settings. There are certainly levels that have darker areas and night-time scenarios, but these too are lit up when the action is taking place.
Unfortunately, as your characters move around, the camera angles can be annoying sometimes. The camera constantly changes positions as you move, and if you make the wrong move as the camera angle changes, this can cause you to fall to your death, or bump into an enemy character, causing you to lose one of your three lives.
There are checkpoints scattered among each level, depicted by a flag similar to one you would see on a golf course. Reaching these gives players the opportunity to have a respawn point should they lose their three lives, or fall to their deaths. Unfortunately, some of these are positioned in some unhelpful locations. On too many occasions, we had worked our way through some lengthy tough sections only to slip up shortly after in one of the areas where the camera can be an issue. We then had to complete the whole section again, only for two flags to be rather close to each other after that. More regular checkpoints would certainly have relieved some of the frustration.
Although Kukoos: Lost Pets does have some frustrations, namely the camera angles and the irregular checkpoints, is it a fun game to play, especially with friends or family. It has a familiar feel for gamers who grew up with 3D platformers such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon or Super Mario Galaxy, with bright fun colours (for the most part) and cute characters. That nostalgia goes a long way to making Kukoos fun, but the platforming and level design nail it. Each world is distinct from the last and with new pet abilities to play with in each, Kukoos: Lost Pets never becomes stale.
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Bright and colourful, nice level design
Camera angles can be frustrating, irregularly placed checkpoints