Sep 022012

Picture it: it’s China, and the year is…..a very long time ago. You are in control of General Loh. I imagine that one day he was sipping on some tea in his hut and he decided it was time to pay a visit to your monk buddy at the monastery down the block. Upon your arrival at the monastery you realize your pal must not be in the best of moods, because he is sending scads of well-trained warriors to bust you up with their mad kung fu skills. However,you’re not going down without a fight; you must use your own killer karate to pulverize the monk’s minions as you fight your way through various courtyards and rooms of these supposedly quiet venue of religious reflection.

The Good
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise features a really fun “free flowing” combat system, similar to that found in Batman: Arkham Asylum. With only two buttons for combat, and one for block/counterattack, you may start out thinking this game is going to be a cake walk, but the complexity lies in the timing of your attacks and blocks and learning what combinations of button presses will best lay waste to your enemies.

Thankfully, General Loh has more than his fists and feet to carry him through this adverse environment. Various power-ups will occasionally show up, most notably one that instantly fills your chi meter and allows you to instantly unleash a volley of devastating and more powerful attacks. Eventually, you will also gain access to a power-up that allows you to summon an army (he is a general after all) to assist you in your endeavors. This is especially helpful since the game gets exponentially more difficult as it progresses. There are also permanent and beneficial modifications you can buy for General Loh with the gold you pick up from enemies. This helps deepen the gameplay a bit, since it gives you a way to customize your character to your style of play.

Channeling all of General Loh’s chi into powerful attacks is a lot of fun, and it looks cool too!

The game plays a lot like an old school 2D brawler, like River City Ransom, or more recently, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. General Loh will be confined to a room or area of the screen until he is able to clear all the enemies successfully. The big difference here is that the action happens in a 3D plane. It was refreshing to play a game in this vein that nodded to it’s retro roots while still successfully giving it a modern twist. All of this action takes place in a colorful environment, with bright, cell-shaded characters.

This game is loaded with abundant kicking and punching and jumping and flipping!

The Bad
The big negative point that Kung Fu Strike has going against it is the punishing difficulty. Even on the “easy” setting, the game becomes ridiculously challenging after just the third or fourth level. This may not be a bad thing to some players, but there will come a point for everyone where rage quitting and throwing your controller out the window will seem to be the only viable option. Other than that, the lack of online multiplayer is a little surprising. Kung Fu Strike does offer local multiplayer, but in an age of such avid online gamers it seems like an oversight to exclude that function from this title.

Don’t let this image fool you, because you can navigate basically anywhere in this environment.

With the 28 punishing levels, and the promise of more to come via DLC, Kung Fu Strike is a fun beat-em-up game that will keep you busy for quite some time, and charm the pants right of those with a fair amount of nostalgia for olde timey arcade brawlers. The free flow combat mechanic is easy to grasp, but difficult to master, but despite all this the game is pretty fun. I do feel bad for the monk waiting at the end of this monastery; because if General Loh feels even half the rage I feel while plaything this game that is going to be one monk on an express train of pain to his next incarnation.

Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise

Kung Fu Strike is styled nicely after old school brawlers, but with a nice modern twist. Gameplay works well with a simple combat control scheme.This is the hardest game I've played in a long time, even on the “easy” setting.
VerdictThere is definitely a group of gamers that will eat this game up, but it's not for everyone.

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