STAFF REVIEW of Kung-Fu for Kinect (Xbox One)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Kung-Fu for Kinect Box art It’s no secret, it seems as though major support for Kinect has died down over the years. At one point it seemed almost every Xbox 360 game was “Better with Kinect”, even if it was simple integration, but these days I can’t even think of the last non-dance game I played that had full Kinect support on the Xbox One. I still use mine every day for voice commands, but it looks as though I’m in the minority as the new Xbox One S doesn’t even have a dedicated Kinect port and the decision to end support for Xbox Fitness has been a blow to Kinect adopters.

Deja-vu is a funny thing. I don’t hide that I’ve been a Kinect supporter from the beginning, so when Kung-Fu for Kinect arrived to review I was all over it, as the list of Kinect only games these days are virtually nil. So I started playing and after a very sweaty hour or so it finally dawned on me why this felt so familiar, because I played this game already, back on Xbox 360 with the original Kinect.

Kung-Fu for Kinect is a repackage of the 2011 Xbox 360 game Kung-Fu High Impact, though be to fair, with a new engine and other improvements, including the much better Xbox One Kinect sensor required to play. This repackage has enough improvements to justify trying to release it once again. I remember having many issues with the movement tracking with the original game, though luckily it seems Kinect 2.0’s power and tech has fixed many of these issues. If you were a fan of the original you can look forward to ragdoll physics, more game modes, more enemies on screen, and of course, better body tracking.

While most games give you a preset character, or allow you to create your own, Kung-Fu for Kinect actually makes you the star, literally. The Kinect tracks you and places you in the game in real time, so the many moves you perform are transferred into the game itself, as if you were working with a green screen behind you. Sure, at first it seems gimmicky, but you’ll laugh and realize it has some charm. The campaign is laid out in a comic book style, asking you to pose in certain ways, then places the pictures that the Kinect takes of you into the comic strips to tell the story.

The plot itself is paper thin, but it’s silly and suits the comic book storytelling method, adding to its charm, never taking itself too seriously. Sure, the voice acting could be vastly improved, but again, it’s not taking itself too seriously either, nor should you. You’ll feel silly posing in the positions the game asks you to for the story sections, but these are some of the most hilarious moments when you see the results. My 3 year old daughter was laughing so hard once she saw me inside of the comic book doing all of these crazy moves.

As I mentioned above, it seemed as though the original Kinect didn’t fair to well reading your movements unless it was a dance game. In general, I always approach a Kinect game without many expectations, and with Kung-Fu for Kinect it was the same; however, I was pleasantly surprised as every move registers and everything seems to finally be working as intended, thanks to Kinect 2.0 and the work Virtual Air Guitar has done with the updated game.

At its core, Kung-Fu for Kinect is a side scrolling brawler that places you in the middle of the action, fighting off waves of enemies with your punches, kicks, and other kung-fu moves. If you want to attack the enemy to your left, you’re going to need to throw a punch or kick in that direction. Every time you attack in a speific direction, your virtual self will slide slightly in that direction too, allowing you to traverse the somewhat confined levels. This of course makes traversing the levels themselves somewhat a chore, though the majority of enemies will rush to you if you are stationary.

As you progress through the campaign you will also learn new special moves, such as a dash punch, somersault, a lightning strike that would make Raiden proud, and more. These offer up some variety to the simple punch and kick spam that will make up the bulk of your move set. To be honest, the first night I started up the game I was unable to get any special move like the dash or somersault to work, not even once. I reached out via email for some tips because I didn’t want to hold it against the game if I was simply doing something wrong. Nevertheless, I played the next day and by some form of magic, I was somersaulting and dashing anywhere I wanted to without hesitation. I assume it was simply a ‘bad night’ for the Kinect, as I was playing late with barely any lights on, but I’ve not had a single control issue since then.

The enemies that you be fight are very stereotypical, with ninjas, mummies, and more, each with their own attacks and strategies to fight against. In the later levels, when you become surrounded by numerous types of enemies, it’s quite entertaining to simply punch your way through a dozen or so opponents at once, especially if you’re holding something in your hand as a prop to really get into the comic setting. The enemies that shoot projectiles will be the bane of your existence until you master how to dash and somersault on command, but after that point it's child’s play to maneuver around on a whim. Scattered throughout the levels are power-ups and health refills, so learn how to traverse quickly early on if you want to survive the harder difficulty levels (which can be switched at any point if any stages are giving you troubles).

Once you complete the over twenty levels of the campaign, there’s no real reason to go back and replay them unless you want to level up your skills further. This is where the handful of extra modes come in. You can do time trials, survival, and even a one punch mode, allowing you to showcase a special finishing move where the enemy only takes one hit to defeat. Needless to say, my daughter absolutely loved this mode. All of these are nice to have but most likely won’t keep you around playing for long periods of time unless it’s for the kids.

What Kung-Fu for Kinect does better than most games is make you sweat. Seriously, 10 minutes in and you’ll be needing a drink and a towel. It’s a very physical game, and swimming punches and kicking repeatedly can become quite tiring. I made the mistake of loading up the game for the first time after a long day of work, regretting that decision quite quickly afterwards. That being said, it’s a fun way to get some exercise in and be physical without becoming bored.

To be completely honest, I was going to score the game a little lower than I did, but that was before I got my 3 year old daughter to play. While I’m a grown man, trying to dissect the game for what it does and doesn’t do, seeing the joy my daughter got from playing proved something else; that being it is a fun game regardless of its flaws. Sure, to me and you it may be a shallow experience without much longevity, but if you have kids they won’t care about that. They get to punch and kick some bad guys all while having fun doing so. The amount of fun she has with Kung-Fu for Kinect every time I load it up is amazing, and she is now asking if she can play the “hi-yah!” game daily. Kids will have a blast with it, and that’s who this is really for. It will amuse them for hours, tuckering them out in the process. That alone for parents is worth the price of admission, along with taking a video of them kicking some bad guys butts to share with family and friends.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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