Kung Fu Chaos has all of the elements of a sleeper hit going for it. There’s only one problem: there’s no way in hell this should be a ‘sleeper’ because everyone should know about this game.
The original description of the game involved a 70s Kung Fu movie premise. It sounded good, but let’s face it – games like Stuntman, Chase
and even Loons
have already covered some sort of ‘movie set’ type of game, all with mixed results. Needless to say, I had mixed feelings about firing up Kung Fu Chaos for the Xbox. Would Microsoft and Just Add Monsters make this game as fun as was promised in the fact sheet? Boy, did they ever.
We received reviewable code for this game earlier this week, and it was rather strange receiving it a little over a month early – it’s not that often we receive reviewable code so far in advance – unless a company knows they have a winner on their hands. Enough hyperbole – let’s get to the game.
First—let’s go over the game’s premise: you are an actor and you’re going to be appearing in a Kung Fu movie. In the beginning you have to meet with the director and he’ll give you the scene; you’ll have to perform well to earn a star rating – you’re in effect given a review of 1 to 5 stars and you’ll be told what rating you have to get up front in order to continue.
Firing up the game, you’ll get a title screen and a voice saying “Kung Fu Chaos.” Next thing you know the initial bars of Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” (whoa-hoo-hoo-hooo is the best approximation I can give) will chime in. While the song is playing you’ll be treated to what looks like a movie theater preview of the game – the company that presents the film, the director, film artifacts (hairs in the projector), goofy slow-mo and credits that reveal the actors in the film; guys like “Chop Styx,” “Ninja Fu Hiya,” and of course the African-American woman with the afro – Lucy Cannon. The intro was pretty darn cool.
Going to the main screen you are presented the following options: Ninja Challenge, Battle Game, Championship, Miniseries, Freestyle, Rehearsal, Special Features, and game options.
For the single player aspect, you’ll probably be spending most of your time in the Ninja Challenge section (subtitle: One Will Fight Evil Ninja Clan of Darkness). Ninja Challenge is the heart of the game. You’ll assume the persona as one of nine actors (three are locked at the start of the game) and you work with a director to complete various challenges that are presented as different movie scenes, but in effect they are a type of mini-game. Mind you this isn’t some lame kid’s mini game – they are challenging mini games and usually involve some sort of (what else?) Kung Fu Chaos!
Each “scene” has a pretty hilarious title: “Legend of the Drunken Bastards,” “Four Poles and a Princess,” and my personal favorite: “Gigantic Crack” which involves clearing Ninjas off a ship called the Gigantic as it cracks in two. Of course, you have to avoid the debris falling down (people, pianos, icebergs, etc) and try to keep from falling into the ocean yourself. Like I said, it is a challenge and if you are any sort of movie fan you are going to love some of these scenes.
Objectives in the scenes range from “knocking off the ninjas into the frigid ocean” to “use the princess as a weapon in a fun game of dodge ball.” Of course there are also plenty of scenes that require nothing but clearing areas full of evil ninjas. You have some pretty decent attacks of your own – but you can also pick up pretty much everything on the set – in fact you are encouraged to do so.
I'm here to fight your brother!
The scenes are so diverse and so much fun, you don’t realize too often that you’re only playing minigames from time to time. Don’t get me wrong – there are also levels that require skill (fighting, jumping and of course bosses) and you’ll also have time constraints – you see the director only has a limited amount of film, after all.
At the end of every level you’ll be presented a rating a various stats from that level. Some levels can unlock additional features such as costumes, characters or new levels. Thankfully, you don’t need to read a FAQ to find out what does what – the game tells you ahead of time what you need to do and what you’ll get if you complete that goal, a very welcome feature.
Controls in the game are very easy to handle: you have a ‘counter’ attack button, a standard attack button, a jump button, as well as a block and taunt button. Finally there’s a grab/throw button. The taunt button is very important as you earn points when you taunt an opponent to the ground enabling you to perform a super attack which has to be seen to be enjoyed.
The game itself has so many little added touches, it gives you a real appreciation as to the detail the developers gave the game – from the goofy subtitles to the director yelling at you if you don’t choose an option quickly enough in the menu, there’s such a great sense of humor in the game – however you’ll get it or you don’t and if you don’t this game probably isn’t for you.
Graphics are well done in the game – there is a sense of ‘cartoon’ in the game but everything (tables, bird cages, etc) are all nicely rendered and look better when thrown and broken up. As you can imagine levels with water look great as always on the Xbox. You’ll be seeing a lot of water in this game (as you’ll be on some very rickety boats), and when you have a chance to appreciate the environment around you, it is amazing.
Sound is well done in the game – if you like 70s Kung Fu movies….you’ll swear you are hearing the wah wah pedals. The game comes complete with that goofy music, but if you prefer you can use custom soundtracks. Director’s comments are well done and add to the flavor of the game during the ‘scene’.
The depth of this game is enormous – I can see a lot of replay value in the single player and the multiplayer modes (especially the multiplayer modes) as up to four people can go at it in battle mode. Every scene has options that you can choose (i.e. number of rounds you need to win, whether or not power ups are available, etc).
Another bonus feature of the battle mode is that you can save your ‘scene’ to disk and replay it in the ‘final cut’ part of the menu. Instead of seeing just a goofy one shot replay – you get so much more. First off it actually looks like a movie complete with super slo mo action and special effects as well as the artifacts that you might see in a real film—you know streaks in the print, or what not. Secondly you’ll see the scene from multiple camera angles. The best part is the special director’s commentary during the scene. Yes, just like a DVD bonus feature the director will be commenting on the battle scene you just took part in.
When you purchase this game, be sure and check EVERY option. It wouldn’t be fair to ruin every surprise but some of the on screen comments are laugh out loud funny. For example, Freestyle mode says “Do whatever the hell you like.” This is some funny funny stuff that makes this game all the better.
Prepare to face NINJA DEATH!
All in all, if you are a fan of the genre, like to laugh and enjoy some mini games combined with some platform fighting, this game is for you. It’s a bummer the game doesn’t have Xbox Live support but overall the FANTASTICAL NEWNESS (yes that phrase is used in the game) will just win you over. It’s a breath of fresh air in a tired genre and highly recommended.