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Review: Kung Fu 2
With the current generation of consoles well into their life-spans and the likes of the PS2 and XBox gathering dust in people's lofts, there's not much use for my old PS2 joypad lately. In fact i only use this on my PC, rather than use my 360 joypad, because i have all the connecters to hand and it's easy enough to just use this. And the PS2 joypad as a thing of beauty, to be fair.
But i digress.
To play Kung Fu 2 i decided to use my trusty PS2 peripheral. And not just because i love my joypads either. For you see the default keyboard controls make for a fairly frustrating game, for this reviewer at least. However, switching to the measurably better option of using a joypad instantly turns this game from a frustrating challenge to a wonderous experience. An experience all must have, as Kung Fu 2 is one of the best examples of platform beat-em-up ever seen, and that's no bull!
Starting up, the game looks good and accurately recreates the 8-bit charm this sequel is based upon (the game being called, funnily enough, Kung Fu on the NES). Not only that, there is a lovely gong sound effect as the menu screen zooms out to fit the window; a gong effect that sounds right at home in the Mortal Kombat techno dance song. Not sure what the hell i mean? Click here my friend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17JPoEy3TaI&feature=related
Not only is the menu screen a good effort, the cut scenes are something else. Though not quite as epic as Metal Gear's efforts, the drawings are polished and fit the game like a glove, whilst the humour is something not seen in computer games since before Lucasarts went sh*t. A credit to Knpmaster indeed! Heading into the game, the controls are easy to pick up and soon you're pulling off Bruce Lee kicks and Jackie Chan punches all over the shop. With bodies flying everywhere it soon becomes apparent that there may not be alot of depth to the gameplay mechanics, but you'd be wrong. After every few stages Ryu, sorry i mean Thomas, begins to learn some familar (but deadly) special moves. These moves certainly are diverse and require some thought as to how and when you use them. Another thoughtful touch. The enemies are the star of the game though and they come at you in a wide range of attacks. Most of the enemies can attack you in more than one type of way too, depending on what you're doing at the time. For example, i found that if i ran towards the little green guys they would try and somersault into my face, requiring me to time a neat little crouch to avoid. On the other hand standing still and performing a crouching kick also did the job. Not many games get something like this right, and fewer still offer the player the chance to experiment on how they decide to take out the opposition. Knpmaster perfects this art seemingly with ease.
To add to the satisfaction of learning the best way to beat up the kids and monkeys in the game, Kung Fu 2 adds extra pleasure to the experience by adding some rather fitting impact sound effects. Kicks land with thuds, lava hits the stone floor with a realistic hiss and throwing fire balls makes Thomas cry out a well-loved saying. "How-do-you-do-Ken?!" The nice sound effects and good looking graphics also do justice to the variety the bosses bring too, with stand-outs including the fire skeleton demon that requires some well timed jumps to avoid his flame attack and the black stereotyped dude that just keeps on coming. Each boss fights their on way and all require a different approach in order to defeat them. Mercifully Kung Fu 2 gives the player unlimited continues, allowing you to plough on through to the end.
This leads me on to the game's (few) flaws. For one the controls are a nightmare if you choose to use the keyboard, with Thomas having the reactions and light-footedness of a garden shed. Often he'll do what ever he feels like doing, most of the time this isn't what you want him to do. However with a joypad plugged in this feeling goes away and is replaced with sugar-coated goodness. Also, the game can sometimes feels too much like a boxing match; the player punching the game and the game counter-punching its way back through each stage. Defeating certain levels sometimes comes down to luck, or atleast it feels that way, despite the almost limitless charm each stage drips. The unlimited continues almost makes it seem like Knpmaster knew this and said, "hmm, this will keep the kids quiet", and in all fairness it does. The bosses can often feel unbalanced too, with later bosses easier than some of the earlier ones. Despite its knocks though, Kung Fu 2 still has the magical "one more go" factor!
And this one more go factor will keep you pushing to see as much of the game as possible, and all the way to the end if you're good enough. Though seemingly not that long, the high difficulty does make the game last longer than it should, though because of this i would question its replayability value. The frustration caused and the tenacity needed often doesn't make for a game you'd want to finish again and again. The satisfying game mechanics do their best to overcome this and some may find this just what they want in a game.
To conclude, i whole-heartedly recommend Kung Fu 2 to everyone. For those of you used to the 80's and 90's style of platformer beat-em-up, the high difficulty and retro graphics will appeal. For those of you youngsters used to playing games that tell you what to do and where to go, throwing health power-ups at you every 5 minutes, this game will be a breath of fresh air and ill educate you on how gamers used to suffer back in the "good old days". Go download now..... "Hiiiiii-ya!"
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