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Kung Fu Panda

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Luxoflux
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Kung Fu Panda brings Po's story of becoming The Dragon Warrior from the big screen to interactive media in a fashion that is actually fun and enjoyable, especially when you consider how most movie tie-in games come out.

Visually, the game just looks great. The fuzz on the various animals is apparent, and while not as much during gameplay, when the camera moves in closer for the in-game story-telling segments, it really shines. Locations are inspired by ancient Chinese design and architecture and the general feel of the game just fits the look of the movie. I was especially impressed with the look of the city while it is burning late in the game, as well as the arid feel of Tai Lung's secret desert training camp.

Audio is also one of the game's strong suits. It isn't clear if any of the actors from the movie reprised their roles for the game or if stand-ins were used. Either way, the performances shine through really strongly, especially in the between-level loading screens which further the plot and set up the next level.


Kung Fu Panda follows Po as he learns that he is destined to become the greatest Kung Fu master of all time, The Dragon Warrior. His appointment as The Dragon Warrior-to-be isn't just a surprise to the five existing masters (known collectively as The Furious Five) and their teacher, but to Po himself since he has always dreamed of learning Kung Fu, but is by no means a professionally trained master.

Po's adventure will take him from the training rooms of The Jade Palace, to the swamp lands overrun by The Golden Croc Gang and into the Wu Din Mountains. When news of The Dragon Warrior being revealed reaches Tai Lung, a long time rival to The Five, he breaks out of prison and begins to hunt down the supposed master. Unfortunately, with Tai Lung's escape, his old followers start showing up. Po will have to face not only the aforementioned crocs, but apes, warthogs and wolves as well; all with different styles of attacks and different bosses guiding them.

Po isn't the only character you will be able to control. By the end of the game, you will have brief segments that will let you control not only each of The Five, but also a level where you must guide their master, Shifu, to where The Five are captured when they try to face Tai Lung.

Each level is littered with coins that can be used to not only increase Po's health and Chi, but also the effectiveness of each of his attacks. These attacks not only include standard punches and kicks, but also his Panda Techniques that include Panda Quake, Panda Stumble and Iron Belly, all of which belong to his own personal, unique brand of Kung Fu.

In these levels, you will also find various green coins that will unlock levels for the multi-player mode. These are typically different types of brawlers where up to four players can go head to head locally (not over Xbox Live).


Kung Fu Panda has three different settings. While none of them are all that difficult, there is a noticeable difference in the amount of damage your hits do and how easy it is for you to get hurt. Quite frankly, the game's ability to let you upgrade Po's different abilities means that you can dump all of your points into his health and Chi ratings as soon as possible and not really have to worry about dying, well, unless you fall in the lake during the levels where you will have to hop across lily pads. If you put all your points into health, and then build up your most common attacks (based on your personal playing style), then you won't have much trouble getting through it.

Game Mechanics:

Much like the rest of the game, Kung Fu Panda's controls don't stray far from the action/platformer model. While it doesn't try to break any new ground, by sticking to a tried and true controller layout, the game is easy to pick up and play. Combinations of (X) and (Y) attacks churn out some fairly nice looking attack strings, while the ability to pick up spears and use them adds just the right amount of variety in the mix.

Kung Fu Panda relies very heavily on button-tapping action sequences. Pretty much every boss fight results in Po (or whomever you are controlling) having to throw a series of blocks or punches, and to pull it off, you will have to tap specific face buttons. Instead of making the experience random though, the sequence of buttons for a particular event is always the same. It would have been nice to see this factored into the difficulty setting. Maybe having a person who has the game set to Dragon Warrior having to deal with the randomness of the buttons, because as it is, you will end up memorizing the patterns during the longer events, and after a couple of attempts at trying to pull off the sequence, you will start to get bored with it.

The only real criticism I have against Kung Fu Panda would have to be play time. The game's single player experience can be beaten in an afternoon, and besides the desire to go back through levels for achievements and unlockables, once you've beaten it once, you will probably not want to go back through it again. I did find that I needed to play through the game a second time in order to finish upgrading all of Po's stats, but the only real reason I was motivated to do that was because of the achievement that was attached to it.

In the end, Kung Fu Panda is one of the better licensed games to hit the streets lately. While I can't really compare it to the movie's plot (it has only just been released in theaters and I haven't had a chance to view it as of the time of this writing), the story is pretty good and the experience is generally fun.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Microsoft Xbox 360 UEFA Euro 2008 Macintosh The Scruffs

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated