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Jackie Chan's Action Kung-Fu (TurboGrafx-16) artwork

Jackie Chan's Action Kung-Fu (TurboGrafx-16) review


"Big-headedness ruled the roost on the Turbografx-16, and we had developers Hudson Soft to thank. From Bonk’s Adventure to JJ & Jeff, Hudson had a stranglehold on the burgeoning cutesy 2D platformer featuring characters with massive noggins genre. "







Jackie Chan’s sister has been kidnapped. (You thought I was going to say girlfriend, didn’t you!) Apparently the bad guy at fault goes by the name Prince of Sorcerers (snicker). All we care about is that he’s in for a beating. After some extremely brief meditation under a waterfall, Jackie is rescue mission-ready. While you watch this brief prologue unfold to start the game, the first thing you’ll notice is how huge Jackie’s head is.

Big-headedness ruled the roost on the Turbografx-16, and we had developers Hudson Soft to thank. From Bonk’s Adventure to JJ & Jeff, Hudson had a stranglehold on the burgeoning cutesy 2D platformer featuring characters with massive noggins genre. Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu may have appeared to be just another such title, but it was special: it was one of the very best.



If you've played any Hudson game from the period, you'll know what to expect in terms of graphics: kaleidoscopic colours and cartoonish black outlines. If you’re in the mood for lighthearted adventure, the striking hues will do well to draw you in. But colourful cartoon backdrops are old hat for these guys, the creators of Bomberman -- the awesome music is the real surprise here. The orchestration is far more complex than you might expect, and many of the tunes are extremely infectious. Jaunty and distinctly Asian-flavoured, they’re fitting for a game named after the all-time Kung Fu comedy king-cum-superman of stunt work.



Jackie's plastic smile, his yell when he falls in lava or a pit of spikes -- even his huge dome -- all of these ingredients remind us of the actor's own brand of humour. It's usually not laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s consistently silly and grin-worthy. In this way, the game makes use of his name well. Just don't expect Jackie to be barrel-rolling over cars or drop-kicking foes through shattered windows. Action Kung Fu is no Rumble in the Bronx port.

But even if we are to completely ignore the license, this game still succeeds. It's five levels of punching, kicking, jumping, and exploring vibrantly realized locales. You’ll begin your adventure on the grassy plains outside of a temple. The sky is bright blue overhead, the tunes are welcoming and the tigers roam free.

Yes, tigers. What did you think, this would be easy? (Or that it would make sense?)



Later on, you will river raft on a log, plunge down a waterfall and fight a giant flying frog. You'll battle firebirds through a scorching cavern stage, where lava rises while the rocky platforms beneath your feet crumble and fall away. You’ll even take to the skies! At the stratospheric heights of stardom, Jackie bounces from cloud to cloud before meeting up with a fuchsia-faced monstrosity in one of the more memorable encounters of the game. The one-eyed pink ogre literally fills the entire sky. Dodging his outstretched arms and leaping up to kick at his single eye brings back fond memories of Splatterhouse and that game's wonderfully horrific conclusion.


Fortunately, when facing off against monsters like this, we’ve got more than basic kicks at our disposal. Jackie can belt nearby frogs in the belly causing them to upchuck various power-up items. There is food to replenish your health bar, and a variety of limited use super kick icons -- all available in Kermit’s stomach. And when the going gets tough and super kicks aren’t enough, Jackie has a very limited number of very hadoken-like fireballs he can hurl for major damage.

And it would mean breaking an age-old cutesy platformer law were Action Kung Fu not to include bonus rounds. During his travels, Jackie will inevitably pass hidden keys to a bonus rounds. Interestingly enough, the keys to the bonus threshold are invisible and are uncovered via an aural cue: a faint ringing sound. When you hear it, it means a secret bonus round is in the vicinity and by frantically kicking out at the air, you’ll uncover the bell responsible for the ringing. Then you’re whisked away to complete tasks like whaling on flying fish or bashing wooden men -- all in the name of vitality, fireballs and points towards extra men.


The game moves along at a perfect clip, and builds to an intense last level and final confrontation. The only drawback is that it all has to end so soon. But while a few more levels would have been more than welcome, Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu does all that you could ask of a 2D platformer: the scenes are engaging, the music stays with you, the difficulty curve is ideal. Just don’t let the name fool you into anticipating any of Jackie’s movie moments -- you’ll be disappointed. Put the license aside, as I did, and simply expect to be thoroughly engaged by a top quality platformer. In the end, you will find your expectations met, your pulse pounding, and your mouth bent into a crooked smile.



Something more: Hudson released a version of Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu on the Nintendo Entertainment System prior to this one. Naturally, it doesn't look or sound as good, but it's still worth a look.

Something else: Just imagine if Rush Hour had been released before this game, the wonders it would have done for the sales -- and more people would know just how excellent Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu really is. Sigh.

Rating: 9/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (April 25, 2011)

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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 25, 2011:

Haha! Nice one, Marc. This game sounds right up my alley. I played the NES version, but I don't recall what my opinion of it was. It was a rental ages ago and pretty much runs together with the other 1245453478647 NES and SNES games I rented at the time.

If you've played any Hudson game from the period, you'll know what to expect in terms of graphics: kaleidoscopic colours and cartoonish black outlines. If you’re in the mood for lighthearted adventure, the striking hues will do well to draw you in. But colourful cartoon backdrops are old hat for these guys, the creators of Bomberman -- the awesome music is the real surprise here. The orchestration is far more complex than you might expect, and many of the tunes are extremely infectious. Jaunty and distinctly Asian-flavoured, they’re fitting for a game named after the all-time Kung Fu comedy king-cum-superman of stunt work.

I liked this paragraph because it succinctly summed up the audio-visual aspects of the game. I think this is something other publications struggle to do.

Again, great review!
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Masters posted April 25, 2011:

Thanks Joe. I only wish I could find the time to be more productive. Right now, if I write one review for every 27.5 reviews you write--well, that's downright prolific by my standards. ^_^
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EmP posted April 25, 2011:

That banner is killer, Marc.
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Masters posted April 25, 2011:

=\
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overdrive posted April 25, 2011:

Great review! This isn't the first time since I've been reviewing games that I've read something that made me want to play this game, but I can't remember for the life of me what the other thing I read could have been.
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Masters posted April 25, 2011:

Thanks, Rob. The game is surprisingly fun. I hope Hudson releases it on PS3 so I can play it on my PSP on the way to work!

Emp: flying Jackie? You've outdone yourself.
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EmP posted April 25, 2011:

Thanks. One day, I'll put this much effort into pimping up my reviews. You'll see!

Good job on this review.
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True posted April 25, 2011:

That score description is the best thing I've ever seen. Finally, someone has outdone the "Tumble Weed Of Boredom".
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wolfqueen001 posted May 31, 2011:

Haha. This game sounds awesome. Great review. I kind of wish I had a Turbo now so I could play it, which is funny because I'm usually not much of a fan of action games, but this one sounds epic. Haha.

Fun fact: whenever I think of Jackie Chan, I think of the cartoon, not the movies (as I've never actually seen them...). This game reminds me strongly of the cartoon, though Jackie didn't have any crazy energy techniques there, haha. I think I briefly played one of the GBA Jackie Chan games once and also found it similar to the cartoon. Of course, this could have just been the art style, which wouldn't be surprising since many portable and older games have cartoony graphics to begin with, but still, I find the comparison amusing.
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Masters posted May 31, 2011:

Thanks, Leslie, glad you liked it. Actually, glad you READ a review not written by Emp! =D Muahaha

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