December 15, 2022
In a year where indie developers have revitalised 3D platformers with games like Tinykin and Hell Pie, it only seemed fitting to fit one more in before that calendar flips over to 2023. Hopefully next year will be packed with jumping and shiny collectibles too, but until then I’m keeping busy with Kukoos: Lost Pets.
What’s a Kukoo I hear you ask. Well they are the little mascots of this platformer, that I’d describe as a cross between monkeys and Minions. These little idiots aren’t having the best time though, because after their annual meetup all of their pets get scared away by a big robot. Fortunately Gramma has a plan, and has you travel through some magical doors that take you to platforming levels to find the missing furry friends.
Kukoos: Lost Pets is a fairly simple platformer, with jumping and dashing pretty much all your chosen Kukoo can do to get around. What makes things different here though is that the camera angle is fixed, like in the Crash Bandicoot games but with less spinning. This might seem like a small detail but it really does change how you explore the levels and deal with the obstacles in your way.
You’ll need to do a lot of exploring too, because Kukoos: Lost Pets is all about those collectibles. Each level has Fwendly Plants (I promise it hurt me as much to type that as it did for you to read it) to find, as well as giving you star ratings for collecting a shed load of coins and killing enemies. You’ll really have to turn over every stone and check every cranny for collectibles, especially if you want to find those plants. In most stages I only found about half of them, so if anything they’re too well hidden.
A few levels into the game you’ll meet your first pet companion, and can try out its powers. This handy glowing bug will help you navigate dark corridors and activate puzzle elements. It’s admittedly a bit of a dull introduction to the pets, but it doesn’t take long to meet the bird that gives you a double jump and glide or the crab that provides you with armour to defend against projectiles. My favourite though was the Aztec block.
This (admittedly less animal themed) little buddy is tied to you by a rope and can be placed as a platform to help you reach higher places. Not only that but if you place it in the middle of wider gaps you can swing from it and if you call it back to you at the right time you’ll go soaring through the air to the other side. The block really lends itself to some interesting levels, and is by far the highlight of the game.
Unfortunately there are a lot of aspects of Kukoos: Lost Pets that aren’t so positive. There were times where for some reason my jump height was significantly lower than usual and I’d go tumbling into a pit, which was as frustrating as it sounds. I also had some instances of enemies somehow hitting me (with their usual melee attacks) from across the screen. I’m not sure why this happened, but it really soured my experience with the game.
The boss fights are a bit of a slog as well. They take far too long to beat, and are just packed full of all the boss tropes you’ve seen a hundred times before. If I never have to fight a boss that spawns waves of basic enemies every time I hurt it again, I’ll die a happy man. Despite being a little cliche, the main problem is definitely how long the bosses go on for, especially if you die and have to start again.
My last issue with Kukoos probably seems small, but boy did it drive me crazy. Every single time you jump your little Minion-esque character will make a little whooping noise, and you end up hearing this hundreds of times in every short level. I had to turn the sound off to progress further into the game, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Kukoos: Lost Pets isn’t a terrible 3D platformer by any means, but it does have some significant issues. Some of the pet powers are really inventive and fun to use, but you’ll have to get past the annoying noises and platforming issues to find and experience them. In years past when we were starving for platformers Kukooz would probably feel quite refreshing, but in 2022 it’s hard to recommend over its peers.
Fun fixed camera platforming
Some great power ups
Lots to find
Some really bad glitches
Boss fights are a drag
Annoying sound effects
Collectibles are too hidden
Kukoos: Lost Pets has some fun platforming ideas, but gameplay issues, boring boss fights and annoying sound effects make it tough to recommend