Coming from an Italian studio by the name of Caracal Games, OkunoKA Madness is an update of a title from way back in 2018, when they released OkunoKA on the Nintendo Switch. Now with added Madness, OkunoKA Madness is going to be released on Xbox One, as well as Steam and PS4, and I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on the game in order to run a little bit of a preview piece on it.
Now, as you probably know, here at TheXboxHub, a preview is exactly that: a largely fact-based scribble about an upcoming game, with little to no personal opinion inserted, this being saved for the review. So, with that caveat firmly in mind, here we go!
In OkunoKA Madness you play a little blue creature by the name of KA. We may be a tadpole, or possibly a large-headed snake with legs, I’m not entirely sure. What KA is though is fast, and that’s lucky given what he’s about to go through. Basically, it transpires that KA’s mortal enemy, called Os, has invaded the world of souls and now KA has to free the land from his evil clutches. So, with the story all nailed on, let’s look at how the game plays, shall we?
The game plays out as a series of screens, with the objective of each to get KA from where he starts, generally in the bottom left of the screen, to where a black blob is in the level. Sadly, not only are there natural obstacles in the way, such as gaps in the floor and vertical walls, but there are also enemies in the levels too, and touching any of these is a sure-fire way of getting access to a one way ticket to respawnsville. Now, just to add that little bit of spice, each level is timed, and based on the amount of time it takes you to get from point A to point B, this is how your performance on the level is scored. These scores range from S all the way through to E; the better the score the bigger your bragging rights on the in-game leaderboards.
The first few levels ease you in gently, with hints about what to do, but after that you are on your own. Luckily, KA comes out of the box with a very handy wall jump feature, that can not only see him bounce between walls like every platform character ever, but he also has a nifty line in jumping up a single wall – bounding upwards like gravity is something that happens to other people. Along with a dash move that allows him to clear large gaps with the greatest of ease, this makes KA a blue blur in action, bounding and rebounding in his attempts to reach the black blobby thing. Upon reaching it, he eats it, and the level is over, and then on the score screen we are “treated” to a scene of KA excreting the black blob, now transformed into a golden blob by a trip through his digestive system.
As KA goes, he does gain new powers, with the power of ice being the first, followed shortly by the power of fire. These powers make platforms of either element appear or disappear, and learning to not only flip between the powers, but then to activate the correct power at the correct time, makes things a little trickier. As an example, a level in the first world sees KA stuck on a platform at the top of the screen, with the blob on the other side, and a large ring of ice in the middle. The trick is to deactivate the ice while KA is in the air so he can pass through it, reactivate it before he lands on the spikes at the bottom of the screen, then get a run up and deactivate it again so he can jump to the other side. Simple, no? Well, for this aged speedrunner these prove pretty challenging, so make of that what you will. Later levels require fire and ice, and these caused my fingers to have a nervous breakdown!
Graphically the game looks great, with charming characters in the shape of KA, and the baddies being a weird kind of steampunk-inspired collection of beasties. Things are all very slick when moving as well, even in these preview days, and the controls are as tight and responsive as you’d hope. Mastering them is another matter, as I have touched on above.
All in all, OkunoKA Madness on Xbox One is shaping up to be a very challenging game to keep an eye on, and with other modes promised in the full release like Time Attack and a promised “Madness” mode, there should be a lot of content to go at, in addition to the time-chasing fun of the main story mode.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and spray some WD40 on my finger joints.
Huge thanks go out to the team at Caracal Games for providing us access to OkunoKA Madness on Xbox One ahead of full release. OkunoKA Madness will release on September 8th 2020 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam and Nintendo Switch. Owners of the original OkunoKA on Nintendo Switch will receive a free upgrade to OkunoKA Madness!