"Our only hope is the Dragon Warrior." -Shifu
Kung Fu Panda
Release Date: June 03, 2008
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
At times my reviews can get a bit long. This happens when there is so much good stuff to talk about that a couple paragraphs will not suffice. Other times my reviews can be quite short, mostly when the game being reviewed as so bad that there is nothing good to write about. This review will be on the short side, not because the game is horrible but because the game is simple and to the point, so will be my review.
Kung Fu Panda is a movie tie-in. There I said it. Normally readers would now sit back to have a good chuckle as I rip the game to shreds. Sorry to disappoint, but I cannot do that this time, because believe it or not Kung Fu Panda is a good game and it very fun.
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When playing Kung Fu Panda, I felt right at home. It was like I had played this game before (I am not talking about the demo either). I was familiar with this game because Kung Fu Panda is nothing more than a God of War clone, but a good God of War clone. Everything that made God of War so fun (or annoying) is present in this game. For those that have not played a God of War game, the concept is simple, beat up on weak minions, then take on a big boss followed by more minions and then ever bigger bosses. Between minions and bosses players can complete quests and side-quests. The same is true to Kung Fu Panda, but the levels are shorter (most likely caused by the fact it's primarily targeted towards kids).
During most of the game, players take on the role of Po the Panda as he battle the forces of evil in the most awesome way he know how, with pure blinding awesomeness. The controls are very simple and responsive. Equally so, the combat system is very simple. To fight players need only press the X or Y button to cause an weak or strong attack. Pressing specific combinations of X and Y buttons will cause combo attacks and/or special attacks. Also available to assist in his battle are the triggers and bumpers used to block and strafe. But other than on a few special occasions (training for example), gamers can simply button mash the X button through the entire game. Now before you write this game off as too easy, the above statement is only true if you play on easy, a setting made for younger players I am sure. The developers have included a difficulty setting that will allow more experienced players to test their mettle. On the harder setting, players will be required to use combos, blocking and strafing to beat the game. At the end of each level, Po can spend the coins he collected to upgrade his various skills and special attacks. On easier difficulty, this is not all that important or required, but when playing the game on the hard difficulty, ensure all of Po's skills and special attacks are maxed or be prepared to suffer.
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My one complaint with Kung Fu Panda is the “Simon Says” style mini-game that happens way to much in this game. All major battles are fought using the match the on screen prompt method that was made famous in “God of War”. The screen will display a series of buttons that must press whiting a second of the visual cue. This process can go on for several series of button presses, and missing any of them, forces the player to start over. The good news is that the button sequence do not vary from one attempt to another, so the goal is simply to memorize the required button sequence (or write it down), until the entire sequence has been noted and can the player can finally get passed this annoying mini-game. The button matching sequences do not add fun or excitement to the game, but only serves to slow down the action.
Once the main quest has been completed, the fun is not yet done. Kung Fu Panda also has several mini-games built-in too keep gamers occupied for hours of multiplayer fun. Again there is nothing new here, just tried and proven game styles such as a Super Smash Bros style fighting game or target practice games.
Kung Fu Panda is a movie tie-in, sure, but what sets this game apart from other movie tie-ins is that this game would still be enjoyable even without a movie to boost it’s sales. The game is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed by children and adults alike (thanks to the adjustable difficulty settings) and should not be missed by anyone.