Right around the time the Playstation Move came out, a little developer called Virtual Air Guitar Company released a game called Kung Fu Live. The Playstation Eye was the key to the title, putting the player in the game, as if they were on a moving green screen filled with comic-style backdrops and goofy enemies. The game met mixed reviews, partly because of the hardware.
Virtual Air Guitar Company is back with their second Kung Fu title, High Impact; this time, they’ve taken advantage of Microsoft’s Kinect for an enjoyable and humorous experience that exceeded my expectations. The game features more than 10 chapters of action, each of which has multiple waves of enemies and the occasional boss battle. You’ll be able to punch and kick your way through the hordes using any technique you like. As long as you’re fast enough, your hits will register. I even tested a high-speed butt bump (don’t you wish I had the camera rolling?) and it worked well. The advanced moves like backflipping over enemies, jump kicking and use magic-fueled attacks, like the Ground Shaker that staggers and damages nearby enemies, are all very easy to do, making for a great party experience.
I did notice that at the normal difficulty level, it is very easy to spam the Power Punch move, which does a lot of damage. Sometimes, though, the straightforward approach will only get you hurt, so you need to be smart. I also loved how debris on the stage could be kicked at enemies, causing a decent amount of pain. The least successful moves I tried to pull off were the blocks. By putting your arm in front of your head, you’ll block high. That works most of the time. The low block, picking your leg up, was more than a little spotty. Dodging works much better and flipping all over the environment is usually a good tactic since landing on enemies causes damage. There are some enemies that damage you when you connect with a hit, so jumping behind them is necessary to move on.
Once you make your way through the 6 hour story mode, you can go back to increase your score or try harder difficulty levels or try out the custom fight creator, Mayhem Designer. You can tweak settings to pick specific enemies to fight or speed things up or down. There’s a survival mode that doesn’t offer anything new for the mode, but will make you sweat. The multiplayer mode blends Kinect and classic play with up to four of your friends on controllers to take charge of the enemies. It’s a nifty inclusion that only enhances the game’s spot in the party game rotation.
The sound is surprisingly strong, with good sound effects, understandably cheesy voice acting and a classic comic motif. I loved the interstitial scenes that ask you to pose so you can be accurately inserted into them. You can always skip those when replaying chapters, so they never get in the way if you’re looking to just get into a fight.
Kung Fu High Impact is a great Kinect title, provided you aren’t expecting a deep brawler experience. It’s accessible, since you don’t have to mimic specific gestures to succeed, and the tracking implementation is in the top tier of Kinect games. Kids can play it easily by flailing around and mine loved being able to beat up the bad guys with minimal frustration. I had a lot of fun with the game’s cheeseball story, and kept finding myself drawn back to it to progress in the story and challenge myself with more difficult custom fights. If you have a Kinect, this is worth checking out.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher.