On paper, the combat system is an ecliptic mixture of combo meters, Pokémon-style elemental creature matchups, and bullet time. If you read about it you may think that Rare Studios simply copied popular ideas from a handful of games, but when you actually experience combat in Kameo you're not thinking, "Oh, they copied Max Payne's bullet time here" or "and here's God of War's combo system."
Part of what helps elevate combat in Kameo above those it borrows from is the ease of switching from one elemental form to another. It's rather like pulling out new Pokémon, but the process is instantaneous. You can go from jabbing trolls with Pummel Weed to stabbing them with ice spears with a simple press of the X button. In fact this is where Kameo goes far off the beaten path: actions are performed using the shoulder buttons; leaving the four face buttons for changing into different elemental warriors.
Lookout he has a thought in his hand
However, I have issues with Kameo's elemental warriors and their use in the game. Only two elemental forms have ranged attacks, and both of these warriors drop out of targeting mode when hit. So with these limitations you figure that Rare would have kept situations where you would have to stand still and target distant foes while under fire to a minimum right? Nope. At times I wished at least one elemental form had an attack that auto-targeted with a ranged attack.
Though trying to hit a distant archer while under fire is nothing compared to how downright un-fun some of the boss fights can be. The idea that you have to switch it up between different elemental forms is a fine one, but some of the warrior forms don't control so well under calm conditions and under fire they quickly become nightmares. An early boss fight against a water demon cost Kameo a full star because of how needlessly difficult it was.
Imagine trying to line up a charge attack to knock a bomb Marble Madness-style up a ramp, out into the air, and smack dab against the side of a boss while under fire. Now imagine that after you hit said boss you have to run over, switch to a water elemental form that controls completely different than all other forms, head underwater and hit four moving targets all while in a short time period. Did I mention that the bombs respawn on their own time table?
Thankfully, such issues only surmount to become prickly annoyances instead of game-ending situations because Rare packed Kameo with checkpoints. Tons of checkpoints. Even a truly lousy gamer will be able to finish this game just by playing five-to-ten minuet increments across the levels. Like Halo 2 this is a title that will rope you in and pull you along to the ending. There are few down periods, and unless you want to you'll never have to wander aimlessly.