Petty Platforming Pet Problems
HIGH Solid, enjoyable, kid-friendly platforming.
LOW Long loading times after a defeat.
WTF These Kukoos have a weird obsession with their pets.
Whenever I’m asked where newcomers should begin their gaming journey, I always recommend a 3D platformer. The best of the genre feature simple-yet-intuitive controls, minimal combat, and plenty of feedback as they master the content. Kukoos: Lost Pets aims to create an approachable, kid-friendly platformer echoing a Saturday morning cartoon, and while it checks most of the boxes it aims to, some rough edges prevent it from being a rewarding experience for all ages.
As with most platformers, the story is simple but serviceable. On a distant planet, the creatures known as Kukoos run an experiment to make their pets more obedient. But after going haywire, the Kukoos must travel to a variety of worlds to calm their pets and return harmony to their land. Don’t worry — no actual pets were harmed in the making of this game.
Kukoos sees players moving through linear levels from a mostly top-down fixed camera with the goal of reaching the end of the level. Playing similarly to a Super Mario 3D World or Crash Bandicoot with a hint of Fall Guys, Kukoos is an approachable, low difficulty platformer that allows younger or new gamers to focus solely on their jumps and rolls without having to fuss with the camera. Luckily, the camera angles switch frequently enough to create new and interesting platforming scenarios to keep the player engaged.
Each area of the adventure features a lost pet that ultimately provides the player a new tool to progress. Whether it’s a pet that turns lights on and off to immobilize certain enemies and solve puzzles, or one that creates a platform the Kukoos can swing from to bridge long gaps, each new pet is enjoyable to use and keeps gameplay fresh. However, these pets usually have a button to turn them ‘on’ and another to actually use the ability — a process that is frustrating to learn and should have been streamlined.
Each level has three collectables — coins, hidden flowers, and enemy souls (which are obtained upon vanquishing foes). At the conclusion of each section, the player is given a rank for each collectible depending on how many are acquired, with awards ranging from “meh” to “perfect.” Though this does add some replay value, there is no tangible benefit for acquiring “perfect” rankings — even something basic like different skins for the Kukoos would have been appreciated. This lack of reward unfortunately diminished my want to explore, and I soon found myself plowing towards each level’s end.
Along the way, each level has checkpoints where players respawn should they fall to their death or get whacked by baddies. These points are frequent enough to create a forgiving experience, but the player will be punished with a cruelly-long loading screen every time. Even on my PS5, these loading screens could last up to ten seconds before respawning, making challenging sections frustrating to the point of wanting to turn the game off because of the delay before being able to try again.
It’s worth noting that Kukoos features a multiplayer mode which allows up to four players to progress through levels together. Though I did not get to extensively experiment with friends, this seems like a great way to experience the content. Whether joined by players spreading out to search every corner of the screen for collectibles, or by a parent or friend who’s supporting a less-experienced player’s progress, it’s a nice touch that gives Kukoos a bit more identity.
While Kukoos is certainly suitable for new or young gamers, I wouldn’t recommend it for seasoned or even casual players since the gameplay and level design don’t do enough to make it stand out from an already-strong field of 3D platformers, regardless of platform.
Kukoos: Lost Pets is a decent option for a parent introducing their child to the world of gaming in a low-stakes, cartoonish environment but it doesn’t offer much else besides the lamentable loading times. It’s cute, but there are other games that fill a similar introductory role much better than this one.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Petit Fabrik, and published by Modus Games. It is currently available on Switch, PS4/5, XBX/S, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PS5. Approximately 4 hours of play were spent playing the game, and the game was completed. Approximately 30 minutes were spent in multiplayer.
Parents: This game is rated E and contains Mild Fantasy Violence. From the ESRB: “This is an adventure platformer in which players control oceanic characters through various worlds. From sideways and overhead perspectives, players traverse whimsical platforms and use power-ups to defeat enemy pets that emit cries of pain and disappear into puffs of smoke when struck/jumped on. Boss battles depict more protracted violence (e.g., shooting a giant crab with a cannon; deflecting large bullets fired from a cartoony machine-gun turret).“
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: In-game text is not resizable. Audio cues are helpful for hearing upcoming enemies and obstacles, but they are not accompanied by visual cues, making this game not fully accessible.
Remappable controls: No, controls are not remappable.