The late 90s and early ‘00s were a special time in video game history. Platformers, along with the rest of video games, were just starting to transition to 3D. Games like Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot—among others–created gameplay standards that are still being followed today. It’s sometimes hard to say if a game developer is trying to make a game nostalgic, or if they stumble into it by using platformer genre conventions. Kukoos: Lost Pets has so many throwbacks there’s no way developer Petit Fabrik didn’t intend them.
Kukoos: Lost Pets is a 1-4 player isometric platformer. It’s set in a colorful, whimsical world populated by creatures that look Minions crossed with monkeys called Kukoos. These Kukoos recently developed a collar to better control their pets, but it ends up Robotniking the whole lot, causing a whole lot of chaos. So your Kukoo of choice (and up to three friends) have to platform your way across several worlds, using several different types of power-ups to succeed. While Kukoos: Lost Pets obviously takes heavy inspiration from the Mario and Crash Bandicoot series, it never quite matches the quality in gameplay as you might expect from those games.
For a platformer to be good, it has to feel good to play. If jumping doesn’t feel fun or precise, it’s going to mar the entire experience. While Kukoos: Lost Pets doesn’t feel bad to play, it feels like it isn’t quite on par with what I would expect from a solid platformer. Movement feels a tad sluggish, and while the jumping feels precise, there’s a miniscule feeling of floating at the end of a jump that makes it feel just slightly off. Additionally, characters feel weightless. Some great platformers make building and maintaining momentum integral to gameplay, but that’s not the case here.I eventually got used to playing Kukoos: Lost Pets, but when I went to get some couch co-op gameplay in, all of my guests mentioned the same thing.
Playing co-op in Kukoos: Lost Pets can be frustrating, too. Often, platformers choose the lead character—the one who is navigating the obstacles the easiest—as the focal point for the camera. In Kukoos: Lost Pets, it seems that whoever is behind gets the focus on them. This can lead to some frustration as players who aren’t as skilled can feel like they’re dragging down the entire group. It would have been cool for them to include different co-op camera and difficulty settings, especially if you wanted to play with a young kid—which Kukoos: Lost Pets is great for.
Kukoos: Lost Pets is definitely not a bad game. It has some interesting ideas, but the entire experience is bogged down by character movement that is just a bit too floaty and weightless. And despite its bright and colorful world, the decision to have the camera chase the furthest back player can make it hard to play with the young kids that might be most attracted to this game.
Kukoos: Lost Pets is available now on Steam and will be coming soon to Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.
A PlayStation 4 key was provided to us for the purpose of this review.