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Kung Fu Funk - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Kung Fu Funk: Everybody is Kung Fu Fighting

WiiWare | Stickmen Studios | 1 Player / 2-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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27th May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Before you can even think of becoming a martial expert, you'll need to undergo rigorous training and focus your zen. And this is what Stickmen Studios' latest WiiWare title is for, or at least that's the story they're going with. The developers have described their game as an "essential" party game that's "fun for all". Is this merely a marketing ploy? To be frank, it certainly seems that way. Kung Fu Funk is far from essential: it's a weak package devoid of lasting entertainment.

    The Main Menu allows you to choose one of three different Kung Fu-based undertakings. You can fight off enemies in a dojo on the left, train your zen levels with the blue-dressed gentlemen in the middle, or participate in a series of quick training activities with the yellow guy on the right. (And yes, it is annoying to have to describe them when they don't have a name attributed to them.) When you take all three into consideration, there's a total of 8 different mini-games to play. Controls allow players to use a single Wii Remote or the combination of both the Remote and the Nunchuk. Multiplayer plays out alternatingly with "Get ready" screens preceding the next person's turn. Let's consider each area individually.

First up, we have kung fu! Players will use their controller to fend off a series of enemies coming from the edges of the screen. Gradually, the speed at which they attack will get faster, and once your health depletes, it'll be Game Over. As you punch, and kick in different directions, dialog will appear the bottom the screen, attributing a wacky name to the move you just performed. At certain points, you'll be able to build up your Special Attack meter by waggling in the same direction repeatedly. Then, you'll unleash a powerful move that will force incoming enemies off the screen. Controls work fine here but the movements are rather jerky in their execution. And honestly, while shaking the Wii Remote can be fun in some mini-game collections, it certainly isn't fun here. Not exactly the best way to start off a release but in any event, let's move onto the next set and hope things improve.

    Next we have tai chi represented by the colour blue. Here you have three different options determining how long you'll play for: Short, Long and Random. Using your controller(s), you simple swing in the indicated directions on the screen. A series of arrows will come down in sequence, a similar setup that you'd see in the music games from Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party. You can go as fast as you like so long as the motions are made before they hit the marker at the bottom. Using a single remote is accurate and even diagonal movements are recognized well. With both controllers plugged in, you'll have two sets of motions to worry about, and here, diagonals require hard movements, otherwise the game won't pick them up. Regardless, even with the accurate controls, it suffers from the same problem as the first mini-game in that it's not very fun. I'm sure you've played other games on Wii that use a similar mechanic, but do it better.

Your final set involves a man in a yellow suit, offering the best of the three selections. Here's where the party element is used the most as this selection is comprised of 6 different games. You have the ability to start a game where you'll play all of them in a random order, or, you can select which games you want to play. In each game you play, you'll have a timer and a gong that will sound whenever you earn a point. The big question is: are these mini-games any fun? 

    In 'Singing', your character will be standing in the middle of 4 different bisons facing different directions. It's your job to make gestures towards them as they are highlighted. Using the Wii Remote on its own, you'll only have to worry about one target at a time, but using both controllers will force you to handle two targets, sometimes in opposite directions. Thankfully, the controls read well when I played this one, and although it's one of the better ones, it won't exactly hold your attention.

'Catching' is something you've likely seen before where you try to catch flies using only chopsticks (well, that and a sixth sense). The controls for this game are recognized pretty well especially using both controllers, so long as you bring the remotes back into the center of your lap after you score a fly. On that note, the game is somewhat enjoyable in a group setting especially if you really get into it. If players actually sit down on the floor as positioned on-screen and aim carefully, it can be an interesting game to play. Although it's not saying much, this is one of the best out of everything found in this game.

    'Balancing' will have you stepping on the heads of hat-wearing passerby's and jumping from one to the other once you're well-situated. You can play with the Remote on its side or you can use both controllers, holding them length-wise with outstretched arms, raising them to jump to your left. It's a bit odd and quite random when you first play it, which may bode well with fans of WarioWare like myself. But again, it's not likely to hold your attention long.

'Chopping' gets you to perform another activity that you've likely seen before in countless movies and television shows. Basically, you need to shake the Wii Remote furiously to build up a meter and once it's full, you'll be able to pull off a move that breaks the giant plates in half. The instructions for this game may be a tad confusing  since the instructions show a silhouette of a person waving the Wii Remote up/down and side-to-side. Control accuracy in this one is a tad inconsistent - one minute I can beat the game in 3 or 4 seconds, and the next, the meter will decrease for no apparent reason. I found it's better if you shake the Remote in a diagonal motion. Either way, this just isn't very entertaining, mostly because the controls aren't all there.

    You'll jump across different platforms when you play the 'Jumping' mini-game. Essentially, you need to jump on top of plants ahead of you whilst also thinking two steps ahead to figure out where you have clear spots that aren't occupied with venus fly traps or cacti. Although the game tells you to aim diagonally, I found it much more accurate to hold the Wii Remote flat and simply swing left, right or raise the controller, as the case may be. During one of my playthroughs, I encountered a glitch where two characters appeared at the same time (one was frozen), and as I jumped ahead, the background moved in a rather glitchy way. Even without the possible glitch, the framerate is still unappealing, and the game only provides some brief enjoyment before you want to move onto something else.

Finally, players will participate in a Red Light, Green Light-based mini-game called 'Sneaking'. It seems as though others have had an issue with this game, and to be honest, I did too to begin with. I soon realized, though, that short back-and-forth motions with both controllers work best. Think of it like a child pulling his arms in to protect himself with his fists in front of his face, shaking heavily within a short distance. It takes a while to get the hang of, and it can be fun a few times if you understand how to play. However, I've played other mini-games that have used this concept with better execution so I kept thinking to myself, "I'd rather be playing that instead".

    At the conclusion of each set of games, a results screen will display showing you relevant stats such as points and accuracy. After having completed a multiplayer session, you can choose the tabs at the side of the results page and compare stats. There's also a "Total" area that shows who the winner was overall in each category. And that's about it. There's no victory performance, no "Good job!", no nothing. What's more, if you manage to tie perfectly, there's no tiebreaker to determine who the "ultimate master of Kung Fu" is. Meaning that results aren't satisfying at all, and this is just one of the many reasons why this game doesn't succeed.

You can easily see all there is to this game in 10 or 20 minutes. It's over rather quickly and even replaying sets multiple times is just plain boring. What hurts it the most is the fact that there are no high-scores to extend the experience, giving players nothing to strive for. Leaderboards are a staple in mini-game collections nowadays so I must say, I was surprised to see it omitted here. It's an especially big hit since the game comes across as lacking in terms of content. Honestly, this theme isn't explored as much as it could be and the game almost feels unfinished or rushed. If there were more games to play, Kung Fu Funk has some potential for a slightly-enjoyable party game. But as is, it's barely even fun at all for anyone who's not a child.

    What I did appreciate about this game was the art style they chose. In between sets, you were introduced to a screen of a nicely-rendered image that set the stage for what was about to unfold. But once you actually get into each game, you'll find that most of them are poorly-animated (if at all!). The licensing of the Kung Fu Fighting song was a nice touch, but it's almost like the developers rided on this song entirely to draw attention to their game. Otherwise, there are some instrumental tracks that help liven things up a bit, especially the ones that seem funk-inspired. Others have a more "ninja" feel to them which, of course, suits the nature of some of the mini-games. At least the developers used tracks beyond the licensed song and while they're not memorable, I thought they were pretty decent.

I'm not against mini-game collections at all. In fact, I enjoy them a lot, so long as they're done well. And I'm sorry to say that the developers did not do a good job with this. What starts off as a good idea ends in a near-disaster that will leave you with a bad aftertaste. While the controls may not be a huge obstacle to enjoying this title, the lack of compelling gameplay and the "thrown together" feel are. The only group of gamers I could even give a morsel of a recommendation to would be parents who want to get a silly game for their children, but even then, there are much much better choices out there on WiiWare. I hope Stickmen Studios will pull themselves out of this negative rut with a stronger title, but until that time comes, don't even give King Fu Funk a second thought. 

13/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 5/10 - Controls almost always work, interesting idea but execution leaves much to be desired, red character's mini-game borders on terrible
Presentation 5/10 - Appreciated the colourful images in between games, loses points for lack of good animation and for technical issues, decent music
Enjoyment 2/5 - Not that much fun, will want to play something else, some games are boring, can be humorous for your first play but that's about it
Extra Content 1/5 - No high-scores to encourage repeat play, can see everything within a few minutes, should've had more mini-games, not worth 500 Points

Equivalent to a score of 43% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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Kung Fu Funk: Everybody is Kung Fu Fighting
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