Game Review

The Kore Gang Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jacob Crites

The bore gang

The Kore Gang has been a long time in the making, a fact reflected in the final result. At its best, it’s colourfully innocuous and fun, while at its worst it can be frustrating and infuriating. It’s likely to be divisive as a result, so we’ll do our best to break it down.

You know what everyone likes, though? Good intentions, and boy does The Kore Gang have them. It tries ever so hard to recall the magic of 1990s Rare 3D platformers like Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Nickelodeon cartoons, and it succeeds in carrying over some of the charm. The full title of the game, with that in mind, is The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth, and it opens up with a particularly funny scene in which subterranean aliens interrogate a scientist to get him to spill the beans on which way is ‘up’: it’s funny stuff. Throw in some truly inspired character art and it’s clear that the problem isn’t personality, but execution.

A platformer's success arguably hinges upon two things: controls and level design. In a platformer simply moving the character should be joyful. In Super Mario 64, for example, Mario's little legs shuffled like a hamster on a slick floor, and he had that great "WaHOO!"-shouting long-jump. Movement, after all, is what makes platforming really shine: a perfect, satisfying balance of rise and fall, and the level design should complement and highlight the protagonist's abilities. It seems that nobody told this to The Kore Gang, because you lumber around in a big, clunky robot suit. What's fun about platforming in a robot suit? Cool gadgets, you suggest? Well there really aren't any; instead you just run, jump and punch things, and each of these actions feels as heavy, clunky and emotionless as you would expect a robot suit to feel. This title began development way back in the early days of the original Xbox, but even by last-generation standards this robot suit would have felt rusty.

This is curious considering the game's interesting twist. Instead of merely controlling one character, you control three, and each of them can be toggled with the tap of a button. This isn't a new idea: the LEGO series has been doing it for years and, less notably, Alice in Wonderland on the Wii has done it, too. It’s an idea that hasn't been used often — one that wasn't done at all when the game began development, in fact — and in this sequel-heavy world we live in, that has to count for something. On a technical level this feature actually works well, but since the whole game is built around it you'd expect it to be more interesting. One character jumps better and can latch onto grapple points, one can punch and one can let you run on all fours. And that's it.

So why aren't these things fun? It comes down to a distinct lack of finesse or, to put it one way, pizazz. Disney Epic Mickey had some camera issues, but jumping had a distinct energy to it. Mickey stretched and snapped like a real cartoon character, making every jump feel buoyant, and it looked great — not to mention that it captured the game's cartoon aesthetic and paint-based level design. Mario's spin attack in Super Mario Galaxy could have been a cumbersome action, but the vibrant rings of stars that swirled around him while he did it, coupled with his enthusiastic “Ha!” brought excitement with each shake of the Wii Remote. It’s that sense of energy that we feel is lacking in this title: it expects us to be enthused just by the idea of running, jumping, punching and swinging, but the developers simply haven't given us a reason to be.

In this respect The Kore Gang is constructed in a rather blasé manner. The levels simply don't seem like they make the most out of the character-swap concept and it all feels very repetitive. You'll run around in an enclosed level, collect lots of odds and ends, always find some orange circles to grapple and swing from, some enemies to fight and some projectiles to throw, but none of it's put together in a particularly inventive way. Combat boils down to furiously tapping the B button, while throwing a projectile requires an uncomfortable contortion of the wrist.

Completing these actions is made more difficult by the poor camera. It struggles to give the best view, a problem difficult to fix on the Wii Remote with so few buttons at the developer's disposal, but the problems could have been avoided with some clever Classic Controller implementation. The pointer functionality would be lost, but it's mostly non-essential.

Beyond these gameplay issues, the sound design is also poor, with headache-inducingly harsh and tinny music beats. The visuals are largely nice and colourful, though, with funny enemy design being the highlight. The art design is heavily inspired by Dr. Seuss, which can be appealing and easy on the eye.

Some older gamers may find some sort of charm in the game's rough, unpolished edges and 1990's-drenched nostalgia. If you, like many of us here, spent hours of your childhood playing some of the classic 3D platformers on the Nintendo 64, then you just might find some enjoyment in The Kore Gang. There's something resembling a good game here, but unfortunately it’s buried by a number of issues.


The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth is occasionally a funny, loving tribute to those collect-a-thon games many of us grew up with. Unfortunately, though, most of the time it's struggling with problems left behind in previous console generations.

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User Comments (32)



BlueNintendo11 said:

Kind of sad, really.

This could have been a best-seller with some more effort, but sadly as-is it has no chance.



TTGlider said:

I was hoping the reviews for this would turn out stronger. The opening comment about it being decisive is true based on reviews which range, if not from good to bad, from mediocre to bad. A part of me thinks this had the potential to be a cult classic but I think between Mushroom Men and Epic Mickey, I have the "good but not great, Wii exclusive platformer" slot covered. At least the publisher had the good judgment to release this at $20 MSRP in the US.



Weskerb said:

I feel a bit sorry for NintendoLife reviewers. They must be counting the days until the Wii U comes out, so they actually have some decent games to review. Though I guess it's not coming out until Feb/March next year. I hope you guys have other games consoles to review games for!



joevox316 said:

Woah. This review came out of nowhere haha I was considering getting this game last year. Had my eye on it throughout 2011. Had so much potential. I feel sorry for the folks cause it took em so many years to finally get it made and out the door. I'll probably think about getting it in the future, 4/10 notwithstanding.



cyrus_zuo said:

I'll probably still pick this up and check it out when it gets ultra-cheap. I did the same with Mushroom Men and wasn't disappointed. I was sad at the things the review pointed out. Many will make the game less fun for me.
It's definitely dropping below Fishing resort on my order of things to get .



Henmii said:

Fi-na-lly! I thought you guys would never review the game!

Anyway, a 4 is pretty low. And yet the game looks good to me. I still think I'll buy it when I see it in a shop!

And about the music: I saw some videos on youtube and there the music was pretty good! Banjo Kazooie-esque music!



kkslider5552000 said:

Wow, I think I remember this game from YEARS ago, and now it's out and it is...not good. That's a shame, as I love some good 3D platformers.



kdognumba1 said:

That's a bit disappointing. This game had been in development for a while, had a good art style, and had some potential.



accc said:

Err no, I ain't the biggest fan of Ape Escape but it's way better than this shovelware crap.



Mok said:

Great review! It's very sad to see lazy developers churning out shovelware on the Wii, hoping for someone to be stupid enough to part with their cash for it.



FonistofCruxis said:

When I first saw the game I assumed it was a tie-in with some kids TV show I'd never heard of as it has a similar art style to some of the crappy kids shows on these days.



joevox316 said:

@Gamesake What's with the constant Ape Escape hate?! Probably not the most phenomenal game ever nowadays but I loved that game when I was younger. Good times.



joevox316 said:

@Mok I wouldn't say these are lazy developers putting out shovelware. This game is probably as old as some of the kids posting on this site! It took them years to get it off the ground and I guess it just didn't pan out like they might have wanted it too. Though, it might have snatched a higher score if it had been released ten years ago when they first started working on it. I would have enjoyed it. I still might.



Raylax said:

That's a shame, it looks quite good. Aesthetically reminds me of Rayman 3.



Gamesake said:

@joevox316 If you're asking me why Ape Escape isn't fun, I guess it boils down to a distinct lack of pizzazz. It expects you to be enthused just by the idea of apes escaping, but the developers simply didn't give you a reason to be. Well that, or Sony just has really bad ideas that translate into worse games.



joevox316 said:

@Gamesake Yeah well I WAS enthused by that and the at-the-time unique controls when I was 9 years old haha So no it's not the best game by today's standards, but I have fond memories of it. I just thought it was funny to see you bagging on a 13 year old game everywhere I looked haha Though it makes me smile when you randomly do that Bought it for my PSP and only played it once. Hasn't aged too well admittedly.



Kingbuilder said:

@Gamesake - Ape Escape was an amazing game. In fact, it's one of my favorite games of all time. I doubt The Kore Gang will get anybody to say something that highly without trying to be a hipster.

Also, you're on a Nintendo fansite complaining because a game's story isn't enthusing? It's about as basic as the story for any of the Mario games and was executed pretty decently if I don't say so myself.



Kid_A said:

It definitely feels like that when you play it. There's a very '90's nicktoon vibe to this game, but...well not as good as actual '90's nicktoons.



bauckster said:

Too bad. The visuals do actually look kinda nice. But as we know, good graphics do not a good game make.



bauckster said:

On second thought, the graphics look pretty dated. This review does seem a little harsh compared to some others I read though. Maybe more of a 5 or 6? (or not, since I haven't actually played it)



MerlinDrazziw said:

4 is a bit low for this game, it really isn't that bad. I've not regretted adding this title to my collection.



joevox316 said:

Yeah 4 seems too low. 4s on NL mean that a game is buggy, broken, and has such flaws in that respect that it devalues the game considerably. I didn't really get that vibe from the review. All I heard was "It isn't flashy enough."



TTGlider said:

About half way through this game on a leisurely play through. It's janky but charming. If you found fun in Mushroom Men or Death Jr on Wii, you'll probably enjoy this. Some really nice art in Kore Gang. And a really bad (completely manual) camera. But eh... still glad I bought it.

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