What if Dixie Kong got her own spin-off game in which she’s a rabbit? Kaze and the Wild Masks makes that happen
As a gamer, I have a soft spot for 2D platformers. They were the genre that got me into gaming in the first place. I grew up playing games like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and of course, Donkey Kong Country. When I learned that Kaze and The Wild Masks is heavily inspired by those games, then I put it on my radar. As soon as it was released, I jumped at the chance to play it. Here are some design lessons I learned from it.
Familiar control scheme: The game’s control scheme is similar to that of Donkey Kong Country, specifically DK Country 2 since Kaze plays very similar to Dixie Kong, which makes it easy for players to get into the game and feel familiar with the mechanics. The game designers obviously knew what made the Donkey Kong Country games so great and made sure to replicate those elements. By using a familiar control scheme, they’re able to make the game accessible to both veterans of the genre and newcomers.
Animal masks: One of the standout features of Kaze and the Wild Masks is the animal masks that Kaze can collect. These masks add variety to the gameplay and provide new abilities that help with level traversal, making for a more dynamic and interesting experience. They appear to be like a power-up, similar to Super Mario Bros., but you keep the animal masks for entire segments of a level and you can’t lose the power up. Basically, like riding a mine-cart in Donkey Kong Country, it’s not optional, it’s part of the actual level. Each animal mask has its own unique abilities that add new layers to the gameplay, and they’re integrated seamlessly into the levels.
Bonus levels: Unlike Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, which had interchangeable and repeat bonus levels, the ones in Kaze are all unique and test the player’s skill. There are hidden bonus levels throughout each level, and they’re well worth finding. They’re challenging, but they provide a nice break from the regular gameplay. They’re also a good way to collect the green gems, which unlock the bonus stages, providing players with more content.
Good variety: Like Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, each level not only focuses on a different set of gimmicks and level mechanics but also changes up the mechanics each time they come back. These alterations to the same mechanics provide variety and prevent the game from becoming stale. This keeps the player engaged and interested in what’s coming next.
Varied boss battles: The boss battles at the end of each world are challenging and fun, with different mechanics and obstacles to overcome. Each boss was more difficult than the previous one, and the last boss was especially challenging, being a multi-tiered boss stage. This is a good example of how to design boss battles that are both challenging and fun.
Challenging but fair difficulty: The game is challenging but fair, with a two-hit maximum and checkpoints spread throughout each level, making it challenging but not frustrating. The game doesn’t punish players for failure, instead, it encourages them to keep going. This is an important lesson for game designers, as players don’t want to be punished for failing. They want to feel like they’re making progress, even if they’re not succeeding at every turn.
During my playthrough of Kaze and the Wild Masks, I was surprised to find that my toddler was scared by the intro of the game. The game’s overall aesthetic appears kid-friendly with its colorful and cute graphics, but there are several dark moments that could be frightening for young children. While I was able to enjoy the game, it’s worth noting that parents should use caution when introducing this game to their very young kids.
Kaze and the Wild Masks is a love letter to Donkey Kong Country fans, with its challenging but fair difficulty, unique animal masks, and varied levels and boss battles. It’s obvious that the game designers had a lot of respect for the source material and wanted to create something that paid homage to those classic games while also providing a new and unique experience. However, the game’s darker moments make it slightly less kid-friendly than it appears.
If you enjoyed Kaze and The Wild Masks, then you’ll definitely want to check out Beware, a 2D platformer that takes place in a futuristic cyber world. Inspired by classic platformers like Donkey Kong Country, Beware is a challenging game that will keep you on your toes. If you’re interested in checking out Beware, be sure to add it to your Steam wishlist today. You’ll be the first to know when the game is released and you’ll also receive updates on any special promotions or discounts.