Kung Fu Strike – The Warrior’s Rise Review (XBLA)

Game Review: Kung Fu Strike – The Warrior’s Rise
Release: September 5, 2012
Genre: Action
Developer: Qooc Soft
Available Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1-2 Players
MSRP: 800 MSP ($10)
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Website: 7sixty

There is a certain beauty in striking the right balance between simplicity and depth in a videogame. On its surface, Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise can almost be played as a two button masher that hearkens back to the old school beat em up games from the early 90’s. But the flare that comes from just those two buttons feels like a well choreographed wire work Kung Fu movie that is a feast to watch. For those looking for a little more challenge, Kung Fu Strike has a slew of counters, evasions, AI troops, and power moves to help you face the onslaught of enemies

Kung Fu Strike’s presentation is just as simple as its fighting system, but it cuts to the chase when it comes to getting you into the heart of the action. The game is made up of fighting arenas that usually put you up against a few waves of enemies before taking you to a comic panel style cut scene that bridges the gap between the enemies you just defeated and your next set of foes. While not incredibly deep or surprising, the story does help give some depth to what would otherwise be just a string of nonsensical fights. But this sleek barebones presentation neatly hides the loading as well as allows you to skip ahead once the next level has loaded.

Fights in Kung Fu Strike had me amazed at the ease of ass kicking in the early stages and pleasantly surprised at the first stages that forced me to utilized what I had learned to better overtake the more difficult combatants. With each level, Kung Fu Strike makes it a point to add very specific enemies that are meant to beat into your head a specific button’s function. By the fifth set of levels I was an absolute killing machine with a cast of hooligans poised to challenge how well I knew my arsenal. The added ability to unlock new moves, equipment, and health/chi upgrades allowed me to better create a character that fit my play style. From the outset, it may look like this game is simple cakewalk but I can assure you that the game continued to change up it’s enemy routines in ways that always kept me on my toes.

This constant layering of game concepts is what really had me excited through the first few hours of the game. Rather than bog me down with all of the game’s specific controls upfront, Kung Fu Strike guided me in a way that had me feeling like a badass almost as soon as I pressed start. The simple but deep fighting system mixed with the black calligraphy swashes behind some strikes, reminded me a lot of Street Fighter 4. But where a lot of the moves seem stilted in SF4, Kung Fu Strike’s animations are so fluid that it enhances the cinematic quality of most of the fights. The game also has a couch co-op mode that splits up into a red guy/blue guy type set up that reminded me a lot of Double Dragon. But it also made me think how much I’d love to see an Avatar: The Last Air Bender  game featuring this fighting engine with 4 or so of the characters from the show, all with their own unique fighting styles.

In a way, that last part is what I really feel is a problem with this game, I just wish there was more here to keep me interested on anything outside of the fighting. While fun to fight through and watch, the fights are over fairly quickly and only have two basic shapes: arena or circular side-scrolling ring. Yes, I can replay levels to help bolster my character’s move set, but there’s just so much you can be pressing at one time so this unlocking process reaches the end game very quickly. The ramp-up in difficulty also seems to fight against any of the slow process of learning that the early game takes its time to walk you through. Later levels had me feeling like I was playing a fighting game like Mortal Kombat, but instead of just one enemy, I had an arena filled of them all ready to kick the living crap out of me if I forgot to block at the right time.

Kung Fu Strike’s real success is in the animations that get pulled off with just a few button presses, I cannot stress more how badass it feels to flow between a crowd a guys tossing out punches quicker than Jet Li in his prime. Regardless of my qualms with the game, you get a package that includes hours of martial arts action that also allows a friend to come along for the ride, could you ask more from a downloadable title?

+Fluid animations that showcase a superb fighting system
+Couch Co-Op, badass in its own right
-AI gets cheap and are numerous in later levels
-Not much depth past the first few hours

Final Score: 7 Out Of 10

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