The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth review
There was a time when 3D platformers were some of the coolest games around. Titles such as Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and Rayman 2: The Great Escape provided wonderfully diverse environments that just begged to be explored. Collectible trinkets were strewn across the lands, inviting players to seek out each and every one of them. We don't get too many 3D platformers these days, and it's a shame that the trend that really took off as a result of the success of Super Mario 64 hasn't continued in the current generation of consoles.
Still, we sporadically get 3D platformers here and there. The Super Mario Galaxy titles are two prime examples of the genre still having plenty of appeal. And not too long ago, a WiiWare game titled Jett Rocket really delivered an enjoyable 3D platforming experience that harked back to the golden days of the genre. Now we have The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth on the Wii, a 3D platformer that features some cool ideas and has a proverbial heart of gold, but also fails to deliver on the very concept it seemingly attempts to revive.
You start out as a girl named Pixie who happens to find a giant robotic suit with special abilities. It is up to you to stop all hell from breaking loose when the evil Krank brothers, who live at the center of the earth, attempt to invade the rest of the planet. You eventually run into a young kid named Madboy and his dog Rex. You must guide the three heroes through 32 stages as you try to save the world.
At first glance, The Kore Gang looks a lot like an old school 3D platformer. The game has bright visuals and a few charming worlds. The colorful aesthetic is definitely good, but it's hard to bestow a ton of praise on the game's visuals when taking into account just how drab the whole experience is. Yes, The Kore Gang looks pretty good, but it is in no way a good game.
The most glaring issue I had with The Kore Gang was the abysmal camera. Back in the days of the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation, we had a number of 3D platformers that suffered from camera issues. Some of my favorite titles from that generation were no strangers to pesky camera angles and odd wall-sticking. The Kore Gang somehow manages to provide a camera that's ridiculously unstable. And the camera controls--which are mapped to the D-pad on the Wii remote and can alternatively be used by holding down the Z button and moving the onscreen pointer--aren't all that helpful, especially when the camera gets locked at a certain angle. Considering The Kore Gang was in development for quite some time, there's just no excuse for this level of unpolished game design.
Unfortunately, the issues don't end with the camera and its hideous control. For a game that attempts to deliver a great 3D platforming romp akin to Nintendo 64 classics such as the legendary Super Mario 64, The Kore Gang falls horribly, horribly flat. The three characters control decently, but even that aspect of the game is marred with questionable design choices. Pixie's double jump is most certainly useful, and Rex's quick running ability is a godsend. The issue here is that every level is hampered by odd platform placement. If you mistime a jump, you may land all the way at the bottom of a stage, which results in frustratingly mundane backtracking. And because a lot of the levels are completely devoid of landmarks and unique features, it can be easy to get disoriented.
Every level has different objectives that you need to fulfill to move on. Whether you're searching for key-like items or collecting specific objects (such as metal bananas for a giant robotic monkey), you'll always have to fulfill a mandatory set of prerequisite actions before you can progress. That's fine, but it's the boring nature of a lot of these objectives and the monotonous layout of most of the levels that keeps The Kore Gang from ever being interesting. Even despite the fact that each character has unique abilities such as Pixie's grappling hook which is used to access high platforms, Madboy's different punch attacks, and Rex's eavesdropping technique, the game never fully develops into something special that makes you care about these varied abilities.
If there's one thing aside from the cheery visual style of The Kore Gang that I kind of enjoyed, it's the game's humor. The whole thing is geared for the kiddies, but every so often the game manages to enter adult territory, delivering witty one-liners that parents playing with their children are sure to get and chuckle at. One of the final scenes, in particular, almost made playing through this hideously bad game worthwhile. What can I say? I'm a sucker for bleeped out censoring. And before you call me out on being a spoiler-revealing jerk, just know that you're probably not going to play this game anyway.
Ultimately, I couldn't stand The Kore Gang. Yes, the visuals were charming for the most part, and yes, the game had a few funny moments, but even then, I would never recommend this game to anyone. For the minor good qualities it has, The Kore Gang is full of bad gameplay elements and terrible mechanics. Its appeal designed for kids still isn't enough for me to say that you should go out and buy this title for the little ones in your family, unless of course your goal is to shield them from actual good games. The Kore Gang attempts to provide a good 3D platforming experience, and while it's obvious that the game was made with good intentions, it's impossible to deny the fact that this depressing 3D platformer fails on almost every conceivable level.