PAX 2015: Hands-On Mekazoo

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For my third appointment, I got a chance to play Mekazoo, which is a really cool 2D platformer set in a 3D environment. One of the unique things about this one, besides the beautiful graphics, is that you play as different characters and can switch between them on the fly. Each character you play is a really neat-looking robot animal with glowing lines—similar to Tron.

In my Q&A session with the developer, I learned that there’s no explicit story or reason for the characters to look like they do, other than the fact that it looks cool (with which I totally agree). By creating a game with an open-ended story allows you to kind of use your imagination to create your own ideas about the characters and what their purpose is.

 
In each level, you will need to find the boss version of the character and defeat it to rescue another playable character, and from there you will have access to that character and its abilities from that point forward. It was mentioned that you can then return to the levels with the new abilities to get to places you could not get to before. One other cool feature is there will be a way to unlock the boss skins, using collectibles in the levels, to play as the boss on the level (although this is only for aesthetic purposes).

There is also local multi-player, that was not originally planned but added recently, which is pretty unique. Each person playing locally can control one animal, so if one person plays as the frog character, he would control the frog until they hit the switch button, then the other player would take over and play the other character.

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Other gameplay aspects that I saw was there were little orbs throughout the level which have multiple uses. The first use of the orbs is to act like a breadcrumb trail that indicates where you are supposed to go, and the second use is that if you gain enough of them, your character will get a temporary shield. You also get a metal for finding all the orbs, but I’m not sure if they are linked to an actual trophy or not.

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The game also features certain achievements for completing a section that is clearly meant to be played with one specific character, but you’ll get a metal for completing it with a different character. The section I played had lots of ramps and loops, similar to Sonic the Hedgehog, where you use the armadillo character to roll into a ball to be able to complete the level. There was also a frog character that has a long tongue that can be used both to attack enemies and also to act as a grappling hook where you can swing on things to propel you to higher points in the level.

Right now, Mekazoo is targeting Q2 2016 for a simultaneous release on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Steam and then eventually on mobile and handhelds including the PS Vita. It sounded like there were many more features that are in the full game, or planned for the full release, so I’m definitely looking forward to playing the full game.

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