Platform(s): Wii, DS
Website:Kung Fu Panda the Game
As you probably read a few days ago, I don't tend to like shovelware very much, but I still go into them with a blank slate. Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors seemed like it could have been a decent beat-em-up game based on the Kung Fu Panda property, but somehow, they managed to make it boring and tiresome. I'm sure there are plenty of children who are getting this game for Christmas, and I weep for them; this game could have been so much better than what it ended up being.
First off, no, there's not a new Kung Fu Panda movie coming out. This is a game made to coincide with the DVD release of the movie, in addition to the previously released Kung Fu Panda game that came out in June alongside the film's theatrical release. So, with only five months between the release of the two games, the team didn't have long to make any great innovations in the latest title. The original Kung Fu Panda game was an action platformer that followed the movie fairly close in terms of story. Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors however, is it's own independent story that takes place after the movie. The evil Tai Lung has returned and is wreaking havoc across the Valley of Peace. It's up to Po and the rest of the Furious Five to stop him.
What I was hoping was that this game would be like the previous one; an easy adventure with a few quests thrown in here and there. Boy, was I wrong. Legendary Warriors takes what could theoretically have been a mini-game in the previous game and stretches it out into a full-length game. Hence, it is basically a collection of colosseum battles sandwiched between some crummy mini-games that require you to do the same things you've been doing with the Wii for three years, I.E. shake the remote and nunchuck as fast as you can. There's really nothing else to the game; it follows a very strict pattern of "Shake the remote to attack the dozens of enemies, shake the remote and nunchuck to win the mini-game, and then shake the remote to attack a few more enemies and a boss to beat the level."
The game features 7 levels and 1 tutorial level, as well as three difficulties and four characters. Each of the characters keeps their own progress throughout the game, so if you decide after level 5 that you'd rather use Tigress instead of Po, then you're going to start at the first level again. Each stage averaged about fifteen minutes apiece, from start to finish. Of course, I was only playing alone, so I'd assume that multiplayer would speed things up a bit. There is also some minor connectivity with the DS version of Legendary Warriors where players can unlock extra characters to play with in the Wii version by connecting with your DS.
Now, I'm a fan of mindless beat-em-ups and hack-n-slashes. I enjoy, and actively play, the Dynasty Warriors games, which are as mindless as they come, but Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors never quite reaches that point where it's fun to do the same attacks over and over. Maybe if I wasn't already spoiled by all the other games I've played, I would have found some fun in this game. The core element is there (beating up tons of enemies either alone or with a friend), but the game never actually adds anything to it. Your characters never get better, but the enemies get stronger. The levels never feature anything of note; they could be blank white rooms with no doors and the gameplay would be exactly the same.
There's one last thing I'd like to throw out there, and it's something that bothers me a lot. When I first started the game, I played through the tutorial level alright, and then I started playing the second level. I killed all the enemies, and nothing happened. I wandered around for probably seven minutes before I realized that I had already uncovered a bug. Now, I understand that games ship with bugs, but something as gamekilling as not letting me progress to the next part of the level is pretty ridiculous, even for a game like this. I ended up switching to another character and making it through the level alright, but I was agitated that I had no other choice than to replay the level because the game had a pretty bad bug that was activated through no fault of my own. I didn't encounter the bug in any other level, however, but my experience was still soured.
Developers, I know you're under heavy time constraints for game releases like these, but something as game breaking as not being able to beat the second level while playing the main character is pretty big. Sometimes it seems like I put more e ffort into trying to play this than the testers did trying to test it. I honestly can't say I blame them, though.