The Studio Ghibli-inspired Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara looks like what would happen if you chucked The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Super Mario 3D World into a blender, and it's no surprise it quickly smashed its Kickstarter goal by 600%.
Developer Chibig says Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is an "action-packed adventure" whose level design is directly inspired by the SNES classic Super Mario World and the 2017 indie darling A Hat in Time, and it's easy to see those influences in the gameplay trailer above. But while Wind Waker isn't specifically listed as an inspiration, it's hard to deny the vibes are similar. I mean:
Its influences aside, Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara exists in the same universe as the 2020 life sim Summer in Mara, although Chibig says "it is a unique adventure with its own story." Gameplay takes place across eight distinct worlds in the Mara archipelago, each one presenting progressively more difficult obstacles and traps leading up to the five most famous pirates of the Mara sea.
Traversal options include the bomb-jump, the jet-jump, the somersault, the ultra-speed, and diving, and as you move through each level you'll collect seashells and exchange them for new items, clothing, and improvements to the main city hub. You'll also make improvements to your ship along the way and unlock new routes to discover the entire map.
Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is absolutely crushing its Kickstarter campaign, sailing right past its initial goal of $33,117 to reach $195,000 at the time of writing. Those extra funds are being used to add stuff like an "Oink-skin outfit" and a "sunken treasure minigame." At $200,000 funded, which I expect the campaign to reach shortly, the developers will add new boat upgrades.
There's an environmentally conscious message at the heart of Koa's latest adventure, educating young players about "respect, responsibility, caring for nature, and the interrelationships among humans and the planet." As such, the developers say they're working with local producers to ship physical rewards to customers in a way that's environmentally responsible.
Koa and the Five Pirates of Mara is tentatively scheduled to launch on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam in September.
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