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Kung Fu (NES) artwork

Kung Fu (NES) review


"The little guys are midgets clad in green, who do an admirable job of keeping pace with the huggers. The first time you see them, you might think to yourself, ''hey, the huggers brought their kids to work,'' or something like that. At least, that's what I thought. I thought the whole idea of having these little guys involved in the fight was slightly disturbing. Are they child soldiers? Or is the game poking fun at midgets? Who can tell? "



Come gimme a hug if you're into gettin' rubbed

Kung Fu is a riot, and it always has been. It's not one of those games where I play it now and laugh at its primitive presentation. I laughed at it even when it was new. Because it's just that funny.

Your girl has been abducted (naturally), and you've sworn to get her back. This will entail embarking on a five-floor mission of mercy through a temple thingie of sorts. At the end of each of the five floors, there is a boss character to wrestle with (naturally). Your girl is being held captive by the last boss, as he is the guy behind the whole girl-napping scheme (well, it wouldn't be the first boss, now would it?).

Hackneyed story aside, the graphics and gameplay areas are where Kung Fu really shines. Not that the visuals are on a level of Ninja Gaiden 2 or Castlevania III - far from it, and that's the point. Your white-clad kung fu expert hero type walks quickly and stiffly, and his appearance alone ought to elicit some giggles. Where things quickly become riotous is the precise moment the first huggers appear.

Yes, the huggers. The notorious mauve and chalk blue coloured enemies who glide towards you at incredible speeds have only one thing in mind. Arms to the sky and unmoving while their legs cycle furiously within limited animation frames, these Scooby Doo villains want to hug you. And they'll do so until you die. The idea is to not allow them to get close enough to lay that hurting on you. You can punch and jump kick them, but your best bet at dispatching the huggers (and most other foes, really) is to give them straight standing kicks to the face, or ducking kicks to the ankles.

And that's generally how Kung Fu works. You walk, from right to left, or from left to right, making constant stops to kick in one direction or the other, careful not to let huggers flank you. Of course, there are other foes, some of them even funnier than the mauve and blue. You'll encounter knife tossers, who attack high and low from a distance; snakes, which gleam quickly along the floor; dragons, that appear to breath fire; and best of all, the little guys.

The little guys are midgets clad in green, who do an admirable job of keeping pace with the huggers. The first time you see them, you might think to yourself, ''hey, the huggers brought their kids to work,'' or something like that. At least, that's what I thought. I thought the whole idea of having these little guys involved in the fight was slightly disturbing. Are they child soldiers? Or is the game poking fun at midgets? Who can tell?

In any case, the little guys learn to jump around, and generally make your life miserable later on in the proceedings. But not like the bosses can. The bosses are a force to be reckoned with. The first boss wields a stick (SPOILER!), and is pretty easy to take out. You'll know you are in a boss realm when the 'normal' foes approaching from behind you suddenly turn tail and run. They either want no part of the epic battle about to go down, or they are honorable enough to want a fair fight. Besides the stick man, there is a big black bruiser guy who laughs at you, an old mage who fires, well... magic at you, among other smile-inducing misfits.

During your five-floor misadventures played out with flat, oddly selected hues, an insistent, ultra cool tune will play. The track gets repetitive of course, but as one-track games go, Kung Fu is pretty fun to listen to. The game is quite short - you'll probably clear it in fifteen minutes or so once you master it.

Doing so won't be easy though, not even after years of play, because enemies appear to generate randomly, so that you may find the first level to be a straightforward run and kick exercise one day, and the next day find that the knife throwers have set themselves up to flank you with high and low tosses going on almost simultaneously. Careful play won't always help, because moving too slowly generally means fighting more enemies as they rush in to crowd the screen. Both a degree of reckless bravado, and careful and quick button presses are required for Kung Fu success. Kung Fu is a simplistic platforming exercise sans jumps, which acts as entry exam to Video Game College.

But that's not why we play, is it? No. Play Kung Fu to shake off scores of grown men like dominoes of mauve and powder blue who are determined to hug you; play Kung Fu to trample little green men. Play Kung Fu to be pummeled by guffawing bald, black bruisers; play Kung Fu to speed walk on the spot in sequences where your girl is held captive just beyond your reach and horrid laughter rings mechanically in your ears. Play the king of kitsch - it's a good way to spend hilarious, mindless minutes, and it's a good thing just to say you've played it.

Rating: 6/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 03, 2004)

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