All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors

Score: 68%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Artificial Mind and Movement
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Fighting/ Family/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:

Seeing Kung Fu Panda in the theater was huge fun. Even at a cinema cafe - quaffing pizza and paying attention to the needs of my five-year old - I was transfixed by the humor, believable action, impressive animation, and heartfelt story. The first game was for some systems a good follow-up, but was a major disappointment for the Wii. Especially in terms of sophisticated graphics, Kung Fu Panda the movie left very big shoes to fill. Among the issues we noted in our review of the first game were shoddy graphics and poorly built environments. In Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors, there are no such issues. The game looks nice, the characters finely crafted and set in environments that feature destructible elements and loads of enemies. Story sequences break away from the game's graphics to a very graphic, cel-shaded animation style. This echoes the stylized Chinese animations produced for the film, and also has a dotted line to a show like Samurai Jack that is instantly recognizable to kids. The downer is how the game's camera pulls back so much on the action that you can't fully appreciate the improved graphics. The reason is that Legendary Warriors is a totally different type of game than its predecessor. Instead of action/platforming, we now have a 3D brawler, not unlike Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The environments you play in are bounded, but large enough to allow you to escape a group of enemies or move the combat to a spot of your choosing. Once the enemies are defeated, the level is complete and you'll load a new one.

Lots of voice acting is included in Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors, but not from the actors that appeared in the movie. All the same, the voices are convincing and drawn from a large cast that helps make Legendary Warriors feel like a "movie game," even though it is just a spin-off from the original brand. The sound and music is largely forgettable outside the scripted story sequences. Brawler games don't offer the greatest format to support interesting triggers for dialogue, unless you count hitting someone. The taunts and dialogue that comes across during battle are strictly there to fill space, and music outside of the animated sequences is nothing special. The best thing one can say about this version is that you'll be happy with how the characters and the battle levels appear. Most of the game will be under your belt during the course of a long weekend, but that's no reason to avoid it. There are unlockable characters available that make it worthwhile to stick around and play as much as possible, if you can overcome some of the rocky gameplay issues.


As the story goes in Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors, Tai Lung is back to his old tricks, this time with a scheme to harvest the mystical energy of the Furious Five by kidnapping them. Playing through a series of levels, you will defeat Tai Lung's lieutenants and eventually face off against him, to release your fellow members of the Furious Five. The bulk of Legendary Warriors plays within one of three versions of Story Mode. Each time you clear one, the next opens up, granting you access to Master and Legendary Story Mode. You'll actually have to clear Story Mode with a top score in each of the various battle levels to open up Master Story Mode. This is exactly the same game but with better enemy A.I. The Legendary Story Mode actually isn't what you'd expect; this time you'll play through the same territory, but be invincible, able to wallop enemies with impunity. Why this seemed like a good thing to build a mode around is odd, since the same could have been squeezed in via some type of cheat option. Not exactly a cheat, but at least an add-on piece to the Wii version of Legendary Warriors is connectivity, where owners of the DS version can access additional characters in Versus Mode. Versus may actually be the diamond in what mostly passes for rough here. Three variations on the standard Brawler format are available, including a co-op mode. The latter is Team Versus Mode, where up to four players can connect and battle in teams against other human players. Free for All and Player Vs. CPU Mode are what they sound like, except that multiple players can still cooperate informally through Free for All. Story Mode has good replay value in the sense that you'll need to replay levels where you scored less than an "A" grade, in order to open up additional content. Otherwise there would be no reason to replay Story Mode, since Versus offers a chance to play through the same locations against the same enemies or human opponents.

The experience of playing Legendary Warriors through Story Mode is where the cracks start to show. The premise of a Brawler based on the movie's characters is kind of cool, and the game looks great from 10,000 feet. After a training session where you are introduced to the basic moves, you'll watch a story segment and then launch into battle. Each location has a different type of enemy, but all enemies operate in the same fashion by converging on you and proceeding with the pummeling. After you wipe the floor with wave after wave of enemy soldiers, you'll face off against the boss for that level. Beating the boss will launch you into the next location where you'll do it all over again. There aren't any special items to find or purchase, just a series of standard attack and defense moves that you can use against enemies. Power-ups are limited, but health supplies are plentiful, scattered in each level. During battles, you'll be mashing buttons wildly and will eventually have the chance to trigger a super-powered attack. These attacks only seem to affect one enemy with a series of hits that are impossible to block, so they are best saved for boss battles. Skilled players can earn special moves by gathering objects in a level, and the method for triggering these moves is to "paint" a symbol on the screen using your Wii-mote. This isn't the greatest implementation, but it certainly keeps those high-powered attacks feeling special. Without online play, Legendary Warriors has limited replay value. Battling your friends is okay, but not compelling enough to keep this in rotation. A decent party game or weekend rental, but a pretty poor option considering how many other Wii games fit that description.


Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors is plagued by highly inconsistent enemy A.I. and control issues. The controls offer a wide range of attack options, but you won't need to do more than flail around (the motion control equivalent of button-mashing) in order to win against most enemies. The other 20% of your enemies are hardened and capable of dealing out big damage. Food stuffs and power-ups appear in each level, but there are moments where you'll find your character surrounded and losing points quickly against a big group of enemies. Periodically you'll be knocked out, and can recover by juggling the Wii-mote and Nunchuk quickly in an up-and-down motion that is pretty unforgiving. The special attacks triggered by gestures are also inconsistent. Some went green (meaning the system thought you completed the gesture) when I raised the Wii-mote to start drawing the shape... Others gestures seemed almost impossible, or at least highly random. The payoff for a special attack is dubious, since you quickly figure out that the flailing type of action is what really gets things done in this game. Lots of jumping is required also, to avoid being mobbed in some areas of a level. Occasional issues still plague Legendary Warriors in terms of the design of levels and the possibility of falling off the side, but at least falling off a cliff is realistic, versus falling through the floor. Enemies are crafty in the final locations, with boss battles that include characters capable of using their own special attacks that you must counter. There are too many frantic levels to allow younger gamers a chance, and there's no making sense of how the motion controls are implemented. A control scheme based on button presses must have seemed too simple for the developers, but what they came up with is a combination of last year's Kung Fu Panda game and Soul Caliber. If we'd wanted complicated controls, we'd have chosen the latter, so Legendary Warriors really missed the mark in this category.

Game Mechanics:

Translating the action and seat-of-the-pants thrill of Kung Fu battles to a game is tricky, since players need manageable complexity. Ten-button combos were all the rage in the days when Fighters filled arcades, and this style of control made an appearance on consoles through classics like Tekken. Nailing super combos has always been fiendishly difficult but satisfying when it worked, and a status badge for the most part. Most good Brawlers have favored simple controls, focusing on the timing required to battle multiple enemies and navigate your character through the game world. Legendary Warriors tries to take the complexity of an old-school fighting game and translate it to motion controls, in a Brawler format. This fails miserably, not because it's a terrible idea, but because of poorly implemented motion controls. You'll quickly understand that aiming for precision won't bear fruit, so flailing with the Wii-mote is the technique you'll end up using. The sad thing about this - and here's the punchline - is that you'll find you don't need to know any advanced combos to complete the game. You don't need blocking, special attacks, heavy attacks, unblockable attacks, or master attacks... In the end, you'll only have to shake the controllers about and focus on taking down enemies in small groups. The gesture-based system for completing "Chi Attacks" or "Rabbit Attacks" doesn't allow for any margin of error, and certain gestures like a circle stand in stark contrast to others like tracing a capital "P" on the screen... Jumping frequently to avoid being trapped, whittling away at enemies, and pulling off as many Chi/Rabbit attacks as possible will be all the technique required to see the credits roll on this baby. Versus Mode isn't much better, so if you don't tell your friends, they might think you are really a Kung Fu master...until they learn the flailing technique.

Nothing about Legendary Warriors recommends it over other good games out this season, unless you have a little one that can't get enough of Kung Fu Panda. In layman's terms, Legendary Warriors is pretty boring. It may hold your interest for the first few locations, but it then becomes a grind. Some creativity obviously went into designing the controls and setting up the battle environments. Visually, the game is nice and the characters are fun to watch. If there were some actual exploration and a true action/adventure game here, it would be easier to enjoy the fighting portions. Instead of improving the last game's flow and design, this version is a complete overhaul. It seems to have fixed some things that were broken, while breaking others that required no fixing. Dedicated fans and parents of fans will feel pressure to drop the money on Legendary Warriors, but just know that you are getting a game that will offer very limited enjoyment for your child. No online integration or change to play through Nintendo Wi-Fi with friends makes this a very limited experience overall.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Windows Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Nintendo Wii Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated