Tate Multimediaâ€™s Kao the Kangaroo didnâ€™t exactly set the world on fire when it was released on Dreamcast in 2000. The multiformat Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 fared better in 2003 as a cheaper alternative to full-price platformers, but still fell short of becoming a commercial hit.
It’s a little-known fact that Kao wasnâ€™t Tateâ€™s only platforming mascot. 2003 also saw the release of Pingwinek Kelvin (Penguin Kelvin/Kelvin the Penguin) on PC. A very similar-looking 3D platformer to Kao, appearing to reuse a lot of assets, it saw the titular flightless bird traverse six snow-covered worlds to prevent a twisted scientist from melting the ice caps.
While it could be said that itâ€™s a semi-sequel of sorts to Kao, or even a lost sister title, all signs point to it being a quick turnaround project that wasnâ€™t intended to be part of the same universe. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that Tate isn’t too proud of this one. A project they took on begrudgingly, perhaps.
It was released as a budget title via Polish outfit Play Publishing and never made it outside of Eastern Europe. Specifically, Poland, Netherlands, Hungary, Russia, and Germany. An English language version wasnâ€™t discovered until 2018 – some fifteen years on from its original release – discovered as an option in the incredibly rare Hungarian version.
Details are surprisingly scarce online. Itâ€™s the only game developed by Tate that doesnâ€™t have a Wikipedia page, and we couldnâ€™t find coverage on long-running sites such as IGN and GameSpot either. A few YouTube gameplay clips, an entry on MobyGames, and links to dubious-looking â€œabandonwareâ€ sites were about as much as we could find.
That gameplay footage reveals a typical 3D platformer thatâ€™s seemingly average at best and bland at worst. Very much derivative of examples from that era. Despite this. comments suggest some people have fond memories of it â€“ even though many had forgotten what it was actually called.
It seems fair to say that we wonâ€™t be seeing Kelvin in HD any time soon. Whereas older Kao games are available on Steam or GOG, Pingwinek Kelvin has been left to linger in obscurity, yet to gain a digital re-release. This appears to have pushed up the price of the physical version over the years, with copies selling for as much as Â£50 on auction sites.
Tate hasn’t entirely forgotten about Pingwinek Kelvin, though – on April Fool’s Day the official Kao the Kangaroo Twitter account joked that Penguin Kelvin EXTREME is coming soon to the Nokia N-Gage. Groan.