4.5 out of 5


  • Beautiful pixel art
  • ‘90s nostalgia
  • Retry as many times as you want
  • Responsive controls (mostly)


  • Inconsistent difficulty

Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Action, Adventure, Arcade, Platform
File Size (Minimum)
759 MB
Release Date (NA)
Mar 26, 2021

Kaze and the Wild Masks is a love letter to the ‘90s platformer era and does a superb job bringing that nostalgia to today’s consoles. From pixel art to collecting items, this indie game is a hidden gem that deserves to shine in your gaming library.

A Curse to Break

Kaze and the Wild Masks - Screenshot

The story in Kaze and the Wild Masks isn’t breathtaking and may be forgettable, but it’s straight to the point. You play as a female rabbit named Kaze. You and your friend, Hogo, visit an ancient ruin for an artifact. Before claiming it, a curse is placed upon your furry friend, trapping him inside the artifact. Due to this, a curse has awakened and spread across the islands. Living vegetables rampage across the land, and Kaze will need to place them back into the ground.

Players will journey through over 30 levels, along with over 50 bonus levels. It’s enough for players to dig their teeth into, but expect at least a six-hour playthrough without collecting 100%.

More Lives than a Cat

While playing, you’ll notice that your friend, Hugo, isn’t gone forever. He’ll pop up as a transformed winged sidekick for protection and as an indicator that you can get a free hit on an enemy. In the normal difficulty mode, your own character can only get hit twice before dying. In casual mode, you can stack an extra hit, making it three hits before death. You’ll notice that your sidekick’s color changes when you grab a second heart. In addition, you have more savepoints in casual mode. This is a great mode to begin with until you become accustomed to the game’s level design and mechanics.

The majority of video games give players a set amount of lives before being given a Game Over screen. Kaze and the Wild Masks tosses that out the window. Instead, players have an unlimited number of lives and time to complete each level. Being given this option for bonus levels is a boon for players and saves the hair pulling. However, this doesn’t stop all the hair pulling when it comes to the precise movements you’ll need to make in the game’s levels.

Too Close for Comfort

Kaze and the Wild Masks - Screenshot

Controls play a major role in playability and can either make or break the game. With Kaze and the Wild Masks, controls for your rabbit hero, Kaze, respond mostly well, even with the power-up masks changing the mechanics. In tight spots, when avoiding death, you have to time your movements and be precise with them almost to a T. Players can expect to experience countless deaths in order to cross the finish line, even in the first level. Its difficulty goes up and down, so you’ll never know how challenging a course will be until you start playing. Fans give Donkey Kong Country praise for its gameplay, despite the tough minecart levels. Kaze and the Wild Masks feels like it has too many difficult spots.

Let’s say you have moving platforms, dropping icicles, hovering tomato enemies, and spiky vines all waiting for you at a specific area. Players would have to time their jumps, speed, and accuracy almost perfectly to avoid getting hit or outright death. This is where casual mode comes in. That said, although these obstacles are challenging, when you get past them, it’s rewarding and lifts your spirits back up to keep playing. With this type of gameplay, it’s a great game for Twitch and other streamers to broadcast for their reactions.

Never Enough Options

Kaze and the Wild Masks - Screenshot

Aside from changing the difficulty, the game offers a handful of options. The most interesting ones are the custom skins for both Kaze and Hugo and being able to adjust them separately. This means that Kaze’s colors can be greyscale while Hugo’s can be purple. There are also the usual sound settings, but on the flipside, there is an option to change the button setup. Players who are accustomed to other platformers may want to have consistency with their control layouts. For instance, instead of pushing two commands to do an Air Smash Mode for Kaze, you can change it to a single button command.

Feel the Magic

Kaze and the Wild Masks - Screenshot

Many games have power-up items. Take, for example, Super Mario Bros 3’s super leaf, which changes Mario’s outfit to give him raccoon-like ears and a tail. It gives Mario the ability to wipe out enemies with his tail, to fly for a short period of time, and to float while descending. In Kaze, you can gain special powers from acquiring a mask at a designated area in specific levels.

There are four masks obtainable in the game: tiger, eagle, lizard and shark. Each one is unique and can aid Kaze in tough spots. For example, the shark mask lets Kaze swim easier and attack enemies underwater. The downside is that you can only use them in the level you obtain them. Once you beat the level, you lose the mask.

Following the Best of the Best

16 bit game inspiration

Kaze and the Wild Masks uses familiar formulas from games like Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, and Earthworm Jim. Sometimes, though, it follows these classic games too closely. For example, in the Donkey Kong Country series, you collect letters, puzzle pieces, and tokens in each level. Some collected items let you unlock areas in the game. In Kaze, you’ll need to collect not only letters but also green crystals and purple gems to score that 100% completion per level.

Having bonus levels to win key items is another aspect Kaze shares with classic platformers. In Donkey Kong Country, you are timed to complete the bonus level. In Kaze, however, you can retry the bonus level as many times as needed to win those green crystals. Collect enough green crystals and you’ll unlock an area in each world. It may sound like a knock-off, but if the system isn’t broken, why fix it? Many games have followed a similar path, and it’s one of the reasons why titles like Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, and Earthworm Jim are memorable.

A Vast 16-Bit World

Kaze and the Wild Masks - Screenshot

While Kaze’s gameplay is heavily inspired by the classic ‘90s platformers, its art style is a pixel wonderland. The character and level designs are detailed and colorful. Even on snowy and rainfall levels, the art makes each level feel different than the others. The animations are fluid, too. From Kaze’s movements to the icicles dropping down, it’s smooth and well done.

The game’s soundtrack by Paulo Bohrer pushes more life into each level, even as you are constantly dying. From energetic scores against a boss to a cheerful world map, it’s a fun soundtrack that fits the game’s design very well. Every artistic input in the game makes Kaze and the Wild Masks a unique title.

The Final Mask

Kaze and the Wild Masks is an entertaining indie game that pays tribute to classic ‘90s platformers. Although it pushes players to be precise with their movements and its difficulty is inconsistent, it’s a hidden gem that shouldn’t be forgotten. Mask up, everyone!

A PlayStation 4 review code provided by the publisher for this review and gameplay footage.

Kaze and the Wild Masks - Gameplay Footage (Captured on PS5)

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x