Kyaa! Ha! Hooowaaaa! Oh, sorry. Didn’t see you there. I’m just practicing for the Kung Fu World Championship. I’ve been using secret techniques to improve my skill and I am prepared to pass them on to you, young grasshopper. Behold – Kings of Kung Fu! Produced in the bamboo groves surrounding the Jae Lee Productions dojo, this game takes 14 of the greatest fighters of our age, each masters of a different style, and throws them into ring to see exactly who is the king of kung fu. Their names have been changed, of course, for legal reasons, but the thin veneer is obvious. If you wish to become a master of kung fu, like me, you must first master this video game!
First, you must choose your fighter. Will you play as the master of Drunken Style, Jackie Cha- I mean Chen Fu? Or perhaps you prefer the Shotokan Style of the White Stallion, who is clearly not Chuck Norris circa Delta Force 2. Each character has their own style of fighting and their own list of moves and combos, enough to please almost anyone. Once you have chosen your character you will be transported to 15 different stages based on famous martial art movies from the ’70s, accompanied by a varied soundtrack of the same inspiration.
Sadly, grasshopper, this training technique is not perfect. There are a few mistakes, mistakes which could easily ruin your gaming experience. Choppy animations that don’t flow into one another and blocky character models make this game seem more like an arcade release from the early 2000’s, not a game that was released in 2015. Your skill in avoiding hits will have to be impressive indeed because character hit-boxes are all over the place. Your spinning death kick may gracefully tap your enemy on the head while his uppercut will knock you silly from a mile away. Combo moves, as well, suffer from an inability to be executed due to the game requiring you to be faster than Bruce Lee in your button mashing excellence.
So, my young grasshopper, if you wish to become a King of Kung Fu you may want to look elsewhere unless you are a diehard martial art fan who must simply play everything. Amateur mistakes and a lack of sufficient polish, which should have been taken care of while the game was in Early Access, implies that perhaps this game was rushed through production. Given more time and some tender loving care from a more experienced developer, Kings of Kung Fu could have been a definite contender in the fighting game genre, but sadly it will instead sit on the sidelines.