Makazoo is a 2D platformer that’s inspired by the classics of the genre. Featuring five playable characters Armadillo, Frog, Wallaby, Pelican and Panda, each with their own unique abilities, players must choose the correct animal to obstacles and bosses. Does Mekazoo do the platforming genre justice? Read our review to find out..
Mekazoo is the first game by developers The Good Mood Creators, taking it’s inspiration from classics in the genre, of which I can definitely see shades of Psycho Fox and Sonic the Hedgehog. Mekazoo focuses solely on gameplay, there’s no story, you’re just given control of mechanical animals, cleverly called “Mekanimals” which consist of Armadillo, Frog, Wallaby, Pelican and Panda, they all have their own unique abilities. Armadillo can roll at speed, Frog can swing from certain objects and enemies with his tongue, Wallaby can jump high and stomp the ground, Pelican glides through the air and has boosters, while Panda can climb walls and ceilings.
You start out only being able to use Armadillo, and have access to the first area. There’s 5 areas in total, Arboretum, Caverns, Gulch, Metropolis and Plexus. You have to navigate each area to find the ‘pods’ that will launch you into levels. Each level is straight forward platforming, you have to make your way from the start to the end to complete it. In Mekazoo though there’s Gears and Gems to be earned in each level, Gears are awarded for different things, you get at least one for completing the level, then there’s others for things such as destroying all of ‘X’ enemies, completing the level in ‘X’ time and completing the level without dying. These gears are needed to progress through the game as levels only unlock when you have reached certain amounts of Gears collected.
Collecting Gems will grant you new customisation options for your Mekanimals, such as colours and costumes. Each area features a boss fight, which are all pretty much the same. learn the bosses attack pattern and drop bombs on it until you knock it out. Once a boss is defeated it then becomes a playable character, of which you can only have two at a time, and are given no choice as to which you have, until later in the game when you have a few unlocked you can find hidden switchers that switch the two animals you have to another set, something you will have to do if you want to complete the game 100 percent, as you will need to revisit levels and find the switchers to reach areas not accessible by the ‘normal characters’ for that level.
A nice touch that does add some replay value to what is an already lengthy game, as not to be fooled by its cuteness Mekazoo does get quite challenging later on, and you’ll have to learn how to switch between your characters mid jump and prepare to perform their actions to quickly get through certain sections. there’s one section in particular that comes to mind, early in the game where you’re being chased by lava and have to switch between Wallaby and Frog to traverse a cavern horizontally then vertically before you’re engulfed.
The gameplay does flow really nice, although I did find that occasionally some characters would act a little buggy, especially Panda when climbing on ceilings. Though when nailed (especially on a speed run for the time gears) it feels very rewarding, a factor in this is the simplicity of the controls, you move your character with the left stick, switch characters with the X button and perform their ability with the A button. It is quite easy to get to grips with, and falls into the catchphrase of “Easy to learn difficult to master”.
Couch co-op is also available in Mekazoo, with each player taking control of one animal in a level, but there’s a twist. Only one player is on the screen at a time and it’s up to the other player to switch themselves into the game, meaning lots of co-ordination is needed, there’ll probably be a few arguments too if things don’t go as planned. It’s a neat idea though and I thoroughly enjoyed playing co-op with the kids, which is another point to the game it is quite family friendly. (as of writing this review it is still awaiting PEGI rating, but it does have an ESRB rating of E.)
The game’s 3D world is used to great effect, as levels at times will turn corners either along the main path, or by using the many launchers and vacuum tubes. There’s often a couple of different ways to get through a level, which again depends on coming back with different characters to reach areas not accessible by others. The level design is really well done and coupled with its bright neon Tron-like visuals, it is quite appealing, although the occasional screen tearing does detract a little from this. The audio is very well done too, lots of environmental and character noises that again fit into its classic inspired gameplay, although there were a couple of occasions where I encountered a sound bug, namely whilst in the customisation pods the noise of my character entering the pod would constantly loop. The background music also has that nostalgic vibe while being quite modern and fits with the games overall style perfectly.