Developed By: Qooc Soft
Published By: 7Sixty
Chinese Kung-Fu films have always had a special place in my heart. From my introduction to the genre with Enter the Dragon by my granddad to the over the top antics of Chinese Ghost Story and The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk series, I’ve always been a fan of these films. So when I heard there was going to be an XBLA title based on this style of film I was eagerly anticipating it.
Any fan of the genre will soon recognise which type of tale Kung-Fu Strike tells pretty early on. You play General Loh who travels to the home of his teacher, Master Mo, to establish a base against the rebel forces but learns of a much darker secret which will lead him on a path of destruction to enact revenge and retribution. The story itself is told via a series of drawn panels along with subtitles shown during the loading screens. All these panels are styled in a similar fashion to Chinese paintings and calligraphy and compliment the feel of the story perfectly.
Gameplay consists of a series of arena-style levels where you will face waves of enemies which need to be defeated to move on. You will also regularly come across various boss battles which range from unique enemies to powerful versions of previous enemies you’ve come across. The combat system itself is very cleverly designed allowing people to pick up the basic controls very quickly but to traverse the later levels will require not only a good understanding of the intricacies of the combat system but also matching your fighting style to the type of enemy you’re facing.
Combat itself relies on two main attacks, a strike button which can be held down for an infinite strike attack for battering opponents and a jump attack button which can also break enemies’ guards. When you’ve gained enough Chi you can press both of these to activate powerful moves to cause extra damage. You also get two block moves, one which is a general evasion button which will allow you to dodge attacks, the other is a Deflect move which when timed right can not only stun the enemy temporarily but make them flash green. If you manage to hit the enemy while they are green you will get a small health boost so you end up balancing out attacking with blocking to get through the tougher fights, much like your average fight in a Kung-Fu film!
It is worth noting that this is not a game for the casual player. The later levels are tough even on Easy difficulty and will tax your gaming skills to their fullest leading to many moments of frustration. In fact I had to resolve to playing this game when I was on alone due to me snapping at people when playing. The reason for the frustration is due to the toughness of the game. The enemies are all beatable but very unforgiving if you make a mistake and often attack in large numbers so you need to be fully on your game to defeat them.
This level of toughness is welcoming though compared to the hand holding you get with many modern games and as a gamer who likes a challenge I enjoyed every minute. This isn’t due to bad game design though but a conscious decision by the developers proven by the fact it’s the first time I’ve received a walkthrough with review copy to help me complete it! Thankfully the game also allows you to change difficulty on the continue screen which towards the end of the game will definitely be useful and made it possible for me to complete the game after a few days.
However if this is all still a bit tough for you, Qooc Soft have also included a local co-op option allowing you to have a friend to help you batter your enemies as a well as a Versus mode. It’s surprising in this day and age that there is no on-line Live co-op but as an old school gamer local co-op is always a pleasant addition.
As you progress through the game you will unlock better equipment and moves to aid you which need to be bought using money found from defeated enemies as well as completing level specific challenges. These challenges range from defeating multiple enemies quickly to finishing levels in specific times, however these are unlikely to be completed on your first playthrough.
Graphically the game uses characters drawn in the same style of the story panels with Chinese paintings being used as inspiration again. All the characters are large and clearly visible though there were a few levels where scenery in the foreground obstructed the action which led to some painful defeats. The camera as well is pretty good most of the the time but occasionally it would swing round at just the wrong moment when you were doing a move so that you would end up missing an enemy with Chi attack. Although there are a few palette swap enemies the majority of enemies are unique and distinctive in design which is handy as you will need to change tactics regularly to combat the different varieties of bad guys.
The audio is a nice compliment to the game and takes its inspiration from the kung-fu films. Although there is no speech in the game you will hear various grunts and groans from the enemies as you fight as well as some meaty sounding effects when your pummelling the enemies. The music itself is has an oriental feel to it and although not always noticeable during intense battles certainly adds to the ambience.
Achievement wise this will unsurprisingly be a tough 100%. I managed 145 of the 400 on my first playthrough and with two achievements tied to getting 3 and 20 S ranks out of the 28 levels this will take some time but certainly be a rewarding completion.
Overall this is a challenging title which will certainly be worth a purchase for fans of the traditional beat-em ups. However the high levels of frustration due to the difficulty will put off many more casual players. At 800MSP though I’d certainly recommend this to gamers who like a rewarding challenge as when you do finish a level you will feel the satisfaction of a job well done.Overall 7/10