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Kung Fu (NES) artwork

Kung Fu (NES) review


"“Kung Fu” is not a game that lends itself to deep analysis. There’s nothing subtle about it, no “deep” gameplay, and certainly not any rich art design or anything. It is what it is, which is basically a straightforward retro action game that will inspire a lot of silly grins and snickering. There’s nothing big at stake here, which is what makes the game’s charm. "



“Kung Fu” is not a game that lends itself to deep analysis. There’s nothing subtle about it, no “deep” gameplay, and certainly not any rich art design or anything. It is what it is, which is basically a straightforward retro action game that will inspire a lot of silly grins and snickering. There’s nothing big at stake here, which is what makes the game’s charm.

Your character is a generic karate master. He even walks around in the uniform, complete with a black belt. Ten bucks says he eats and sleeps in it too. Anyway, you can move him left or right. Pushing the directional pad ‘up’ makes your character jump. One of the face buttons executes a punch and the other a kick. What’s the difference? Kicks have longer reach, but punches score more points I think. Every time you let off a kick or chop, your guy does one of those ‘whoops’ you hear in all the kung-fu movies. Whenever his attacks land, they sound like they’re impacting one of those wooden boards karate experts break in exhibitions. This is not a mere game, but an accurate sim of the world of karate.

Now all of this would be for nothing if you didn’t have bad guys to beat up. They attack from either side, and there are about five or six different types of them. The run of the mill baddies just rush at you and attempt to choke you. The ones that wear bandanas throw knives at you, which you must either leap over or duck. There are midgets – yes, midgets. They’re tricky, those dwarfs. You have to duck to whack them, and sometimes they do flips over your kicks and punches. There’s also bee hives, exploding yarn (?) and magic pots that erupt to reveal fire-breathing dragons.

All of this happens in a five-story pagoda, allegedly the hideout of some Asian syndicate. The stairs to the next floor are always guarded by some mean toughies. One whacks you with a stick, and another tosses boomerangs. On the fourth floor, you encounter a wizard who teleports all over the place. If you lose to any of these bosses, they laugh at you – I like that the sound designers created a distinct laugh for each boss. Anyway, at the pinnacle of the pagoda awaits ‘Mr. X,’ who must think that the letter ‘X’ is somehow still mysterious and menacing. Not that his choice of nom de plume matters, since he can easily knock your butt to the ground regardless. Do not take “Kung Fu” lightly, reader.

That’s a pretty thorough write-up for a game like this. Like “Super Mario,” “Kung Fu” never ends – you beat the final boss, celebrate the release of your girlfriend, and then find yourself back at square one to fight an even more formidable wave of thugs. There’s only one song in the entire game, but it never grates – it’s more like a low-key undercurrent. It sounds exactly like you’d expect for a game called “Kung Fu.” There are also two different game modes, one presumably trickier than the other. I’ve found that one mode is adequate, but two does leave you with something extra to play around with. Also, remember to bow to your Nintendo before starting each level. This is “Kung Fu.”

Rating: 8/10

joseph_valencia's avatar
Community review by joseph_valencia (July 22, 2009)

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zippdementia posted July 22, 2009:

I'm really liking your off-the-wall reviewing style, Spaced. That said, I do think you have to be careful not to let it get sloppy. I actually like this review, but it needs tightening. While I appreciate the fact that Kung Fu is a simple game that requires a similarly simple review, I think you could easily expand on every single paragraph you've written for stronger effect.
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randxian posted July 22, 2009:

I really don't like how you say you think punching gives you more points. Actually, I know it does, but you should be the expert on the game itself and leave the reader no doubt.

Ten bucks says he eats and sleeps in it too.

Hehehehhe. That's good stuff.
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Suskie posted July 22, 2009:

Fuck, man. You're coming up with a goofy nickname for everybody, aren't you? First Venter is "Jace," then Radicaldreamer is "Raddish," and now Spaceworlder is "Spaced." Soon you're gonna be calling me the Suskinator or some shit.
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sashanan posted July 22, 2009:

Now you've gone and reminded me of a girl I once knew whose handle was SpaceD. She was a pretty lass in our gaming clan. Then she actually went and became a photo model and got so busy that we never heard from her again.

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