Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 8

Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara take a break from all the farming of the previous game and instead presents players with a 3D platforming adventure. It sees Koa traveling to different islands where she must take part in platforming trials to find map pieces leading to her next destination. Along with all the platforming the game also features some collectibles to find as well as a few mini-games and races. The entire game is very wholesome and lighthearted while the platforming is easy enough that most players should be able to have fun without getting frustrated.

Gameplay: Some of the control elements, such as having to hold down a button to run, takes some getting used to but overall the game is fun and varied.

Graphics: The visuals are bright and colorful while the levels are varied enough that exploring them won’t feel repetitive.

Sound: Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara lacks any type of voice acting, but there are plenty of sound effects along with a very upbeat and catchy soundtrack

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Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara

Developer: Chibig, Talpa Games, Undercoders | Publisher: Chibig | Release Date: 2023 | Genre: Casual / Adventure / Indie | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam

After her adventures in Summer in Mara, Koa is back in a brand new game, and this time she has swapped her farming tools for a more action-packed 3D platforming escapade. The game opens with Koa receiving a cryptic message from her friend Mayo asking for assistance dealing with some thieving pirates. However, after rushing off to help, Koa gets roped into a series of pirate trials that involve clearing obstacle courses. While set in the same world, it’s a complete shift from the relaxing farming and crafting in Summer of Mara.

Players take control of Koa and must clear eight different worlds to restore the town of Qalis that pirates have ransacked. After their rampage, the pirates have all scattered to different islands, which Koa must clear to retrieve map pieces that will lead her to the next island. Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is a 3D platform adventure that harkens back to classics of the genre, such as Crash Bandicoot, Klonoa, and Pandemonium. Each island has its own theme and is filled with traps and obstacles to overcome. The goal is simply to reach the exit as quickly as possible, which means most levels can be completed in a matter of minutes. However, along the way, there are also some optional collectibles to find for players who want a greater challenge. These collectibles take the form of pearls, fabric, and plastic, which unlocks town expansions, new outfits, and new backpacks, respectively. None of these are essential to completing the game, but are a neat incentive for taking a bit more time exploring each level.

Although Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is a very casual game, it does cater to players who enjoy speedrunning. Each level has its own time trial leaderboards and players can earn bronze, silver, or gold medals depending on how well they do. We typically took our time exploring each level the first time we played them in order to find the collectibles and familiarize ourselves with all the traps. This was then followed by a speed-running attempt to try and earn a gold medal. The levels lack enemies or any type of combat, so most of the challenge stems from platforming as well as dodging the obstacles such as lava, water, spikes, and lasers. Some levels also have additional challenges, such as disappearing platforms, trampolines, or keys that need to be hunted down to open doors. Nevertheless, the levels are mostly very linear and it’s impossible to get lost or wander too far off the path. Despite being relatively short, each level also has a midway checkpoint. Players can even opt for the “relaxing” mode, which offers additional checkpoints. In addition, the game provides players with unlimited lives and continues, but Koa can only take three hits before she is returned to the last checkpoint. However, if this happens too many times on the “Normal” mode, the game will present players with the option to switch to “Relaxed” mode for the rest of the game or just for the level that is giving them a problem.

Along with the platforming levels Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara also has a few other elements to keep players entertained. At the end of each island, players will find a boss battle, which either involves learning some easy patterns to beat or a race to the finish line. Between levels Koa can also sail around between the islands and visit Qalis, to purchase new unlocks. The boat she uses to do so can be upgraded by finding gears to enhance its speed, make it jump, allow it to sail through whirlpools, and more. Occasionally Koa also has to complete underwater levels, which offers a break from all the platforming and focuses more on dodging enemies and traps from a side-on perspective. In addition, Napopo, Koa’s little friend who rides along in her backpack, gets a chance to shine in the diving mini-game. Lastly, completing each island opens up a race where Koa must compete with three other characters to reach the exit first. These are optional but reward players with additional map pieces that unlock new locations and challenges. All things considered, there’s plenty to keep players busy, but the game is still relatively short, and completing everything it had to offer took us less than ten hours.

Visually, Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is a bright and colorful game with a charming art style. There’s nothing cutting-edge on display, but the levels are varied and cover all the usual platforming tropes such as laval levels, ice levels, ancient temples, caves, and so on. The game also features a wacky cast of characters, each with their own 3D models as well as hand-drawn portraits when talking to them. The soundtrack is decent too with plenty of upbeat songs to accompany the action. Unfortunately, the game does not feature any voice acting, which is a pity as there are plenty of characters and dialogue.

As it is a 3D platformer we found a controller to be the best way to play, but having to hold down a button to make Koa run takes some getting used to. Koa can jump and stomp on things like buttons or crates, but we sorely missed the ability to double-jump. However, pressing the run button just as Koa lands after a jump causes her to roll, which when timed correctly can make her go faster and perform a longer jump afterward. It’s entirely possible to complete the game without using this feature, but it makes it easier to attain more competitive-level times. We also really liked the turbo pads found on some levels as they boost Koa’s speed even more and make for some exhilarating sections. The game automatically switches camera angles, so players don’t have to fiddle with the camera and this worked well for the most part. Some things, such as slippery ground on the ice levels can be annoying, but there’s nothing that’s really rage-inducing.

Overall, we enjoyed our time with Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara even though the difficulty skewed more towards younger players or those who are inexperienced with platformers. The story is very lighthearted, but once again something that younger players or those familiar with the previous game will enjoy more. The whole game is very wholesome and even the “thieving pirates” spend more time encouraging Koa than acting villainous, which might be a little too saccharine for some players. While there’s nothing drastically new or different in this game it’s a competent entry for the genre and fans of Koa and her friends will enjoy seeing all the familiar faces. Just don’t expect the gameplay to be the same as it was in Summer in Mara.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Celeron G1820 / AMD Athlon II X3 455
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 430/ AMD Radeon R5 240
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 / AMD Radeon HD 7850
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

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