Kukoos: Lost Pets by Petit Fabrik is a 3D action platform game starring a cast of sea monkeys. Their home is being bombarded by a giant mechanical frog, and mind control devices placed on the local wildlife. Players will take control and navigate through gorgeous detailed environments that are linear in design, but packed with things to play around with.
You start on a large tree with a series of doors leading to the game’s levels. Completing a set of levels and their corresponding boss fight unlocks the next doorway. The jungle world throws clever platforming moments and engaging puzzles at you right out the gate, and from then onward, the game keeps the ideas fresh, including new environments like a city world.
The game’s pride and joy is the pets. Kukoos: Lost Pets uses one pet per world, and builds off of the unique ability it carries. The lightbug pet in the forest world uses its light to blind enemies for a time. Later, you use it constantly as you explore to go through dark caverns in search of hiding purple flowers called the Fwendly plants. Then the game flips the mechanic on its head, forcing you to extinguish that light and walk in darkness to avoid vines that activate in the light.
I was very impressed by everything. Even the controls. Though not as flexible as Mario, they are way less stiff than Croc. The Kukoos turn pretty quickly, and can jump, perform a quick dash in the air, and roll to attack.
The boss battle I encountered was the standard first time boss level of challenge. There was still enough mix up to keep the three-hit-ko from being a complete throwaway. Also, the design and character of the boss kept me entertained, much like Mario’s minibosses in 3D World.
Speaking of inspiration, I loved the linear levels, because they reminded me of Crash 4: It’s About Time. I was more impressed by them than even the Bandicoot, because of how the levels were opened up at times. There was a little chance to explore here and there—sometimes a trash can to look behind in the big city, or my favorite, the lily pads to jump on in the forest. I reset often just wanting to bounce on all of them at once. And there were ledges, and tiny pathways, and side paths leading to lots of coins off the main road. I had to eventually stop so I could keep seeing the rest of the game.
I’m impressed by how much this game has to offer in just the Beta stage, but I’m not without my critiques. For starters, the Fall Guys-esque design for the sea monkeys works for a game that I want to run and play and test, but the game would benefit from a more standout, unique design. A better-designed character, when paired with the excellent gameplay, could stand next to Hat Kid, Hollow Knight, and Isaac on the indie stage—and I don’t say that lightly.
And there’s only one critique left: the music. The one track heard over and over again got old. That being said, it is still a catchy tune that fits the tone and feel of the game. Admittedly, I’m still whistling that tune; get it out of my head!