Mekazoo Preview

Setting the mood.

Mekazoo, pronounced “Mecha-Zoo," is derived from the term Mechanical Zoo, which basically translates to “badass platformer where you get to play as different animals.” Or at least that’s what I got from playing it at GDC 2015.

As a platformer, Mekazoo pushes the boundaries as far as level design, creating ways to make itself more than just a side-scrolling experience. There are instances during various levels where you are able to jump into cannons that will shoot you into a different part of the level or you can utilize the abilities of different characters in certain areas to change the entire angle of the camera as you enter a new dimension of the level.

To start off the game you will only have control of one Mekanimal, the armadillo. You unlock each character by fighting boss versions of them, which will be larger than the character's normal size and have offset colors like black and red. I didn’t have a chance to play through a boss fight, so I cannot speak to what boss tactics, but I do know that defeating minor foes should not be too difficult to get the hang of. Every character has a basic attack that is also associated with their primary form of mobility. Play as the frog and you can destroy enemies by snagging them with your tongue, the wallaby pounces on foes, and the armadillo can kill them Sonic-style by rolling into a ball and speeding into them.
  
After unlocking a Mekanimal, you’ll be able to seamlessly switch between two at a time. The two characters you have to switch between are determined by which section of the level you happen to be going through at the time. You may start a level being able to play as the armadillo and the frog, but after you unlock your third character, it is possible to have the selection change mid-level if a different combination of characters is necessary to proceed. When using two characters, it is possible to switch between them instantly even when you are in mid-air which adds to the variability of how you can bypass obstacles and enemies. There are also floating platforms you can use to progress through each level that respond differently depending on which character you use. The frog can swing on the platforms, the wallaby can use them to assist in bouncing higher, and the armadillo can use them to gain extra speed boosts.


Certain levels will also have forced side-scrolling events built in that will challenge the player to make it through areas quickly by mixing the skill sets of certain character pairs or mastering the unique skills of one character. I had the opportunity to play through one such level and had to outrun the rising lava of a volcano. During this scenario I realized it was possible to switch to the frog and use its tongue to latch onto flying enemies that would lift me up into the air or switch to the wallaby to bounce my way to safety. While I could have used a combination of both methods to escape my doom, I opted to stick to the Wallaby escape method. That’s really the great thing about Mekazoo: It’s challenging at times but you have many options available when trying to figure out the best way to escape a rolling death wave or just explore a level.

Everything’s colorful in Mekazoo, and I couldn’t help tapping my toe to the tunes as I made my way through each level. The artstyle of Mekazoo is just as hypnotizing as the soundtrack. Although it is still in the development process. it is very well-polished and I didn’t encounter anything game-breaking during my playthrough. If you want a fun platformer to play with and well-thought-out puzzles, Mekazoo is definitely a game I would highly recommend. There is no set release date for Mekazoo yet, but when it comes out, it will be a downloadable and available across many platforms including PC, Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4.