Kung-Fu for Kinect Review

By Rebecca Smith,
If I asked you to think of the title that you had most wanted to see on the Xbox One as a HD remaster, most of you would go for popular franchises. You might pick something that has already been remastered, like Halo: The Master Chief Collection or Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. Or maybe you would pick a franchise that is getting a remaster soon, like BioShock Remastered or Batman: Arkham Asylum. I'm willing to bet that Kung-Fu High Impact wasn't high on anybody's list. Yet, despite Microsoft's support for Kinect rapidly fading into oblivion, developer Virtual Air Guitar Company continues to support the peripheral with their fourth Kinect-required Xbox One title and a remaster of the aforementioned Xbox 360 game.

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Unlike most games that are on the market, Kinect's camera places you into Kung-Fu for Kinect in real time. At the start of each of the game's chapters, players are asked to pull a wide range of poses and facial expressions that are then integrated into the comic book pages that are used to tell the story. You assume the role of a hapless shop assistant with a mysterious past. By not carrying out your orders in the shop, a previously defeated enemy has risen again to cause havoc. While the story is largely forgettable and is just an excuse for the beat 'em up gameplay that is to follow, the comic scenes do provide a welcome brief respite from the exertions that are to follow. You'll feel a bit silly while posing for the camera, but the results are a great source of amusement, especially for the younger members of your family.

The main focus of the game is for you to show off your kung-fu skills across 15 chapters, each with one or two levels, which are filled with baddies who are hell bent on killing you. Be warned, this game will provide a workout that will have even the fittest of players needing a break; you will not be able to get the furniture to play the game for you. Hyperactive children are optional. To move left and right across the side-scrolling environments, players will need to punch left or right respectively. A range of punches, kicks and jumps can be used to defeat the enemies that you face, and random flailing is a perfectly valid tactic during the earlier levels. Players are constantly moving to the point where those who would classify themselves unfit will be struggling after a couple of levels.

Launch screenshot 3Enemies can swarm you quickly

After a while, random flailing no longer works well enough and players need to use a more tactical approach to their enemies. Throughout the game, special moves are introduced to help defeat the increasing numbers of enemies. These vary from the ability to stop time to a ground slam that kills less powerful enemies and knocks stronger enemies away from you. Unfortunately, these moves are also where the game starts to struggle. When performed successfully these moves work exactly as expected, with the exception of a magic bow that is incredibly inaccurate and relies more on luck than better judgement. However, despite the improved capability of Kinect 2.0 over its predecessor, the game's ability to recognise these moves varies dramatically with the amount of light in the room. While seemingly unresponsive to anything but the most basic of moves at one time, the game will then have little problem reading your complicated movements at another time. This is not a game that can be played at all times of the day unless your room has an ideal lighting setup.

It's a good job, then, that the enemies aren't very intelligent for the most part. The majority will spawn into the stage and swarm towards you like bees to a honeypot. As they come to you, the most basic punches and kicks will be able to dispatch most of them. Those enemies that do have more about them have the ability to teleport around a level and/or throw projectiles, something that requires quick and precise movement to tackle. These enemies are the most annoying of the bunch but will usually keep their distance, allowing you to regain your composure before you go on the offensive again. If you take too much damage from these enemies or need some assistance, power ups that provide health or attack boosts are hidden around the level, but they're often in places that can be hard to reach. This isn't ideal when you only have a slither of health and you can't get away from the enemies that are about to overwhelm you.

Launch screenshot 4A surprisingly quiet moment

The need to perform a punch to move around the level means that even the most simple of environments can be tedious to navigate. When multi-tiered buildings are introduced with enemies on several levels, trying to reach these becomes a chore. Players can swing their arms in a circle to perform a somersault that allows them to vault onto higher levels, but this is one of those more complicated moves that becomes impossible in the wrong level of light. When the last remaining enemy is two floors above you, performing multiple somersaults in a row to be able to reach him is an act of frustration at the best of times. It can send your family and friends running for cover at worst. Whereas panicked button mashing can have the desired effect in controller-based games, panicked movements never end well with Kinect.

The game's campaign is relatively short, clocking in at around five hours. The game does allow players to level up their character through causing damage while using the various moves that are on offer, but this does little other than increase the number that is next to your name. As such, there is little incentive to replay the levels once you have finished the campaign for the first time. Instead, you may want to take on some of the games challenges. These include surviving for as long as possible, seeing how many enemies can be defeated in a set amount of time, and challenges that task you with completing a set objective, like performing as many combos as possible. Like the campaign, these are fun for a little while but there is no incentive to replay them unless you're after specific achievements.

Launch screenshot 1Find the power up to turn yourself into a giant to stand a better chance against him

Speaking of achievements, the Xbox One list is different to that of the XBLA game, although there are some similarities. Players will now receive just a single achievement for working their way through the story, now that there are no achievements for completing specific levels. There are 11 achievements that are tied to specific moves that can be performed throughout the game, most of which will be unlocked through natural gameplay. Players will need to reach Level 21 to grab another two achievements, while the remaining six achievements are tied to the game's challenges. It is the latter six that will provide the biggest challenge for gamers as it takes a fair amount of energy and co-ordination to reach a time of 3:30 in Don't Get Hit, or to reach round 10 in Survival.


Kung-Fu for Kinect can occasionally suffer from problems with reading the more complicated moves that are required from players, and navigating through the side-scrolling levels is a chore, but players will feel like a kung-fu superstar with even the most basic of moves. Or they'll feel like a physical wreck. This Kinect title will have even the fittest of players reaching for water and a towel as the game gives players a thorough workout. This surprising remaster will be great to keep children amused, although adults may become bored a little quicker due to the short throwaway story and lack of replayability. The game is not for the faint at heart.
6 / 10
Kung-Fu for Kinect
  • An amusing workout that differs from most fitness titles
  • Great for children
  • Some issues with tracking more complicated moves
  • Level navigation is a chore
  • Little replayability
The reviewer spent five hours punching and kicking her way through the game's campaign and some of the challenges, all while trying not to pull any muscles. She also spent a fair amount of time on the floor and drank enough water to sink a ship. Despite this, she won 12 of the game's 20 achievements. A copy of the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.