Mekazoo is a weird name, which is fitting because it is also a weird game. Looking at screenshots doesn’t even come close to conveying what kind of game this is, and even after the tutorial level I was still a bit perplexed as to what exactly it was trying to accomplish. Pushing on though it finally revealed itself, and turns out to be a clever platformer with some switch mechanics and a truly unique art style. It isn’t without its problems though, and when combined with its safe platforming Mekazoo quickly fades into the forgettable category in an already busy time for releases.
The concept is simple. Players gain access to five different characters throughout the game called Mekanimals. Each one has its own unique platforming style, and the game allows for switching between two at a time as they are slowly unlocked. As one would imagine, each Mekanimal has their own abilities, and they fit the character. The armadillo rolls akin to a Sonic game, while the frog latches its tongue onto objects to swing.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC, Wii U
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
Mekazoo is all about momentum, which is both a good and bad thing. Switching between Mekanimals throughout levels is difficult at first, but once I got used to it, it became second nature. Levels are designed with their powers in mind, and switching is imperative. There is also a co-op mode that allows two players to take on the role of a single animal, working in tandem to solve the platforming. It is fun and challenging, and really adds to the overall experience.
Speaking of the levels, they are both chaotic and interesting in their design. The 2.5D perspective allows for some cool transitions, but they are also extremely busy. I lost my character in the madness at times, which led to some frustrating deaths. I did love that each level felt different though. Blasting through these while pulling off the timing felt good, which is the sign of any good platformer.
Where things went wrong though, was in performance. I played the game on Xbox One, and it struggled to maintain a clean frame rate. Normally this doesn’t bother me as much as others, but this game suffers because of it. Precision timing is broken and levels feel like they are chugging due to the visual design. It is disappointing because I feel this is another victim of the Unity engine and its performance on consoles. Hopefully a patch comes along to clean it up.
To compliment the visuals, the soundtrack is also amazing. The work of M.J. Quigley is both catchy and dynamic. The score really took me back to the time of 16-bit platformers with its whimsical melodies. Very few games have me looking up composers to hear more of their work, but this game definitely had me rooting around to find more. Presentation is truly the highlight of Mekazoo.
While it won’t set the world on fire, Mekazoo is one of those games I could see taking off down the road when it hits a sale and word of mouth spreads. The performance issues will hopefully be cleaned up by then, and players will get to experience the joy the developers have crafted here.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.