Rakoo & Friends is a strong case for the allure of beautiful presentation. From a gameplay standpoint there's nothing really special about this one, but the fact that it's a joy to watch adds greatly to the overall package.
Rakoo & Friends tells the story of the eponymous critter and his quest to find true love. The game consists of 64 auto-scrolling side-scrolling levels in which you must steer Rakoo clear of obstacles and enemies while collecting flowers to deliver to your lady love. Each stage can be cleared in about two minutes or so, making it last only around two or so hours.
As you play Rakoo will unlock the ability to call on support from his pets, of which there are four. You can choose to control each of these four with the four face buttons on the Wii U GamePad, or have four friends with Wii remotes take control of them. Each pet has a unique use, with three dedicated to eliminating enemies in various ways and one able to restore Rakoo's hearts. Speaking of hearts, Rakoo starts with three, though that amount lowers depending on how many pets you take along with you. Two pets will remove one heart, while taking all four will remove two, leaving you with just one heart with which to complete the level.
Each level contains three Rakoo coins, as well as a bonus for meeting a flower target. The coins seem to have no function, other than possibly unlocking achievements, each of which awards a Miiverse stamp. In addition to Miiverse stamps you can also use flowers collected during Rakoo's quest to purchase a number of silly hats. The hats don't do anything, but they're a fun bit of flair to add to your character.
Over the course of Rakoo's adventure you'll encounter various enemies, none of which pose much of a threat. Like many games of its ilk Rakoo & Friends features a number of power-ups, each of which has its own unique abilities and features, though many are standard for the runner genre. Rakoo can use a hot pepper that temporarily makes him breathe fire while running at high speed, destroying everything in his path, or a magnet to suck up flowers, among other things. Perhaps the most unique of Rakoo's powerups is the "lure" which sees him mount a huge beast and use it to barrel through the level; the twist is that this one can last indefinitely, as your meter is refilled by destroying obstacles and bowling over enemies.
Rakoo & Friends tends to skew a bit on the easy side in terms of difficulty. Opening levels are almost too easy, leaving room for a number of errors as the player learns the ropes. That's not entirely bad, either. Rakoo's bosses aren't particularly challenging either, as each of the game's bosses serve only to introduce further obstacles as opposed to needing to actually be defeated. In later levels Rakoo & Friends turns up the difficulty, and it feels like it finally reaches the sweet spot, albeit a bit late.
Where Rakoo & Friends truly shines, however, is in its presentation. At the beginning of the game you're greeted with a gorgeous, well-animated cutscene. The rest of the game, fortunately, lives up to the quality of that scene. Rakoo is expressive, fun and fluid. Enemies pop into plumes of smoke, rocks shatter into small dust clouds. Rakoo's various hats all animate uniquely when he receives a powerup that makes him sing; all of this is backed by a soundtrack that makes you feel like you're taking part in a classic American cartoon.
Rakoo & Friends is a fairly average game with above average presentation; its gorgeous graphics and fun soundtrack add to the experience in a big way. Miiverse stamp integration adds a bit of replay value, and the soundtrack fits the feel perfectly. The gameplay is okay, but ultimately it's the beautiful animation that's ultimately memorable - it's certainly not for everyone, but you could also do a lot worse on the eShop.