One of the many playable Xbox 360 games on the floor of TGS this year was Rare’s long awaited Kameo: Elements of Power. We have long been interested in the mechanics behind this title and now it has a heaps of visual flair to back up the gameplay.
The level we experienced began with Kameo climbing the wall of a foreboding castle under siege by dragon-riding orcs. Every stone on the structure was emphasized with the telltale signs of bump mapping. Characters contained high amounts of detail while maintaining a signature Rare look. The backdrop was filled with hundreds of swarming dragons and a focus effect blurred images on the horizon. Even when briefly glancing at the kiosk, there was no doubt that the game was running on a high definition setup.
To climb the castle, the sprightly protagonist begins the level in the form of an ice creature that is able to climb walls by punching his claws though patches of stone. Kameo, the nimble winged creature, is able to transform into three forms, each with a special ability. Besides the Yeti there’s an armadillo type animal that rolls around as a spiked sphere and a walking Venus flytrap who can bat enemies around like Evander Holyfield.
What makes the use of multiple characters successful is the unique control setup. Players switch characters by hitting the face buttons and perform their actions through the use of the L and R triggers. For example the plant’s fists swing into action by rhythmically tapping the triggers. Pulling down both of the buttons sends the plant underground where he can launch a sneak attack. The armadillo is able to perform a hop and a spinning dash that makes messy work of any orc in his way. We actually plowed down an enemy with enough force to have him become stuck to the spiky ball and was taken for a painful ride as we continued through the level.
Kameo is continuously engaging because players have to constantly switch characters to advance through the level. The Yeti was necessary to climb the castle walls, but the plant’s fists were needed to clear the route ahead. After the battle, we were then forced to take the form of the armadillo to roll through a set of sewer pipes leading to the castle interior. On the inside the choices were not always as obvious, but quick thinking and constant swapping proved to be rewarding.
In the depths of the sewer there were ramps that could only be navigated with spike-ball dashes but there were also enemies that hid under hard shells to avoid our pointed attacks. By switching to the plant we were able to sneak under the shells and provide the cowards with a nice uppercut to the face. By linking enough punches together players can also fill a combo meter that sends them into a hyper mode where enemies are move at a crawl and they can continue heaping on the pain as they see fit. More combos keep this meter filled and prolong the bonus.
Our time with Kameo revealed a simple but fun premise. The game was running far smoother than at our previous viewings and looks to be nearing completion. We’ll have more Rare information as it becomes available.