Super Smash Panda.
I have always enjoyed the Kung Fu Panda property. The first movie was genuinely entertaining, and even the Xbox 360 title released in 2008 wasn’t bad. That said it was also a property that slowly disappeared in my eyes. I wasn’t even aware that new media was being made. So imagine my shock when I discover there is a new game sporting the name, and even more shock when I find out it is a Smash Bros. clone. Perhaps the biggest shock of all though is that, while not nearly as polished as Nintendo’s brawler, it is a surprisingly passable clone.
While there have been numerous clones of Nintendo’s famed brawler, most of them fall miles short of nailing the simplistic fun the series is known for. This is where Showdown of Legendary Legends shines. Outside of the subject matter, this is probably the closest anyone has come to matching that excitement. Everything is here: from bubble blocks, to up smashes, this game carbon copies the formula down to the most minute detail, and does it well. It also helps that the controls are spot-on. If anyone wants to compete with Nintendo’s effort, they should look to hire this developer.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, 360, 3DS, PS3, Wii U
Price I’d Pay: $29.99
The game features 20 fighters and 12 stages with more currently available as DLC, again matching the diversity of Smash stages with multi-tiered arenas, and themed locales from all three of the Kung Fu Panda movies. Characters are also distinct. Each has their own special moves, and play differently enough to make them all fun to try out.
The combat is familiar with energy bars increasing as opposed to depleting as players take hits. The higher the number, the further they fly. Power-ups are also scattered around the levels giving players an upper hand, and again all are themed after characters and objects from the Kung Fu Panda universe.
Similarities never end. Standard stock and time battles are also joined by a play on the coin battle, featuring dumplings of course. The single player offering is mostly just matches against the AI. The tournament mode spices things up with a series of battles in each mode type, but still feels like training for the multiplayer in the game.
Both offline and online play are available, and it works. Playing locally is still the best way to go, but online was relatively smooth in our tests. Sadly the community is not where I would have like it to be, and finding matches was sometimes a chore. Still, when I managed to get into one, it ran surprisingly smooth.
Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends was a surprise for me. I expected another quick license cash-in, and instead got a pretty solid Smash Bros. clone. The price feels a little hefty considering there is DLC also available, and let’s be fair, these characters don’t have the draw of Nintendo’s roster, but for those without a Wii U, it is a solid substitute.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.