Prepare to be transported back to the late-80’s and early-90’s. Modern platformers, outside of a few rare releases like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, have failed to capture the magic and joy that platformers used to carry with them. I can honestly remember sitting around the SNES and Sega Genesis, wasting hours upon hours with games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario World, and Donkey Kong Country. My dad and I lost in a gaming session as the snow piled up outside. Memories like that are why I cherish being a gamer, and Mekazoo definitely brings some of those feelings pouring forward once again. Read on for our full review of Mekazoo.
Publisher: Good Mood Creators
Developer: Good Mood Creators
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Copy provided by the Publisher for the sake of this review
Mekazoo feels very familiar to anyone that has been playing games since the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis era. Immediately after starting the game, it became apparent to me that it is heavily inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog and various other 2D Platformers from that era. This feels so much like an old-school Sonic title with a modern aesthetic to it, that it even has a character the resembles the little blue hedgehog. Its art design and colorful palette will also jump out at you, and is definitely one of the talking pieces for the game. It certainly has a nice charm behind it, and kept me wanting to play instead of wanting to put the controller down. You’ll get lost in the visuals while playing, and sometimes that may work against you as you get hit by an enemy you may not have noticed.
The premise behind Mekazoo is simple. You are a cast of mechanical animals, each with unique abilities and ways to traverse across the levels. Starting out, you’ll be controlling a mechanical armadillo, which was the perfect choice for a starting animal. As mentioned, the armadillo has abilities and feels very much like Sonic, so newcomers to the genre, as well as fans that have been around for decades, will instantly know how and what to do. In total, there are five different playable animals that will allow players to overcome anything the game has to offer. Throughout the course of the game, you’ll unlock the remaining four animals. There’s a frog that uses his long tongue to lash out at enemies and swing around off of dedicated points. A wallaby that is able to bounce around, hopping over obstacles and jump on enemies in typical Mario fashion. A panda, which uses its strength to break through walls and floors, and can climb up surfaces with ease. And finally, a pelican that can fly.
One of the best things that can be said about Mekazoo is that it is just pure, simple fun down to the core level. Moving about the various stages, avoiding or taking out the small enemies along the way, collecting the orbs, it’s all quite enjoyable to run through. Switching between the two different animals currently available at your disposal also offers many ways to engage the levels and ultimately complete them. It’s a sigh of relief to see a platformer really succeed and do well in today’s gaming landscape, when so many others have failed. This gives us high amounts of hope for games like Yooka-Laylee, which is set to release in 2017.
Mekazoo follows a typical platformer flow, starting players out in an introduction area and only one animal available to control, the armadillo. There are five different worlds to explore, each based off of a different theme. After progressing through a set number of levels, there will be a boss fight that, you guessed it, takes three hits to defeat. It’s very much a basic platformer that doesn’t deviate too much from the norm. The most unique thing it has going for it are the different animals and some of the level designs. But that clearly is not a bad thing, as Mekazoo nails everything about the genre.
Because I was having such a good time playing through the game, I was sorely disappointed when I started to come across problems that it has. Most every game has certain things wrong with it, but Mekazoo’s issues were happening often enough that they need to be addressed, and certainly hold the game back some. Animations from the animals will get stuck from time to time, which is even more frustrating on some of the difficult levels later in the game. A handful of graphical issues were present, and the game would crash and force close back to the PlayStation 4 dashboard. These things weren’t happening all the time, but again they were often enough that it needs to be addressed through a patch at some point.
Other than that, my only other gripe with Mekazoo is that there isn’t much in the way of a story linking everything together. Some of my favorite platformers of all time, Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie come to mind, had an overall story tying many aspects of the worlds and things together. While it is true that a platforming game, or almost any game in general, doesn’t necessarily need a story to make it good or even better, I just think this one in particular would have benefited from a bit of storytelling throughout. It could have easily taken it from being good to being great.
Mekazoo does a lot of things right with the platforming genre, and fans should absolutely give it a try. While we can’t say it is among the best of the best, it certainly is a good game. And in a time period where a lot of games feel very similar, we wish more studios would take a chance with games like Mekazoo. Developer Good Mood Creators has a nice foundation built, and we would love to see what they can do with future releases.