Kung Fu Strike is the first game for which I have begrudgingly fished out my Xbox 360 controller from a tangle wires beneath my television and hooked it up to my computer. I’ve stuck with the keyboard through the likes of Dustforce and Cave Story but Kung Fu Strike is the game that has crumbled my resolve. It caused me to attempt the dangerous journey from my living room to my bedroom, carrying a precious cargo of console control related peripheral. Once I made the crossing my plans were dashed, like a ship wrecking into jagged rocks mere miles away from a home port. I couldn’t work out how to get the damn thing to work with windows. For the sake of video game journalism I bravely played on, my claw like hands screaming for rest and the correct tool for the job. Seriously, you can’t play fighting games with a keyboard.
I got a bit melodramatic there. My experience playing Kung Fu Strike was perfectly pain-free without the assistance of a control pad. But I would highly recommend using one if you have the huge amount of brain and software engineering degree required to work out how to get one working with Windows. Whoops, I’m being melodramatic again.
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise is very much a fighting game. When I initially encountered it, the screen shots and videos lead me to believe Kung Fu Strike was a side scrolling brawler of sorts. It’s a fighter, but a fighter and then some, without quite becoming a full-fledged brawler. I’ll have to be honest and admit that I don’t play many fighting games at all but I know a fighting game when I see one and Kung Fu Strike definitely is that. But what is this “and then some”? Kung Fu Strike is like a whole game of extra “challenge missions” that a fighting game might unlock once you beat the main game.
Now, that’s not to say that Kung Fu Strike feels like a game that would be tacked on to the end of another game. There are 28 missions on offer, with a story told through comic book style cut scenes and a huge variety of enemies and scenarios. Kung Fu Strike is in fact the first fighting game, to my knowledge, to have a fully fledged single player campaign. And that’s what I’ve been bumbling to say; Kung Fu Strike is a purely single player fighting game that focuses on the one character, rather than a whole colorful slew, and provides a story and interesting fight scenes relevant to that character. As a person who’s always been put off by fighting games due to the lack any real fleshy single player component I think this is genius and I can’t believe it hasn’t been done sooner.
Each mission will feature a number of waves of enemies each with different attacks and weapons. As the game progresses new elements are introduced like giant clay bombs you can kick at your foes, shurikens and even the ability to summon your own “army” to fight alongside you. These armies are actually only a couple of thugs that fight for you and unfortunately the one’s I’ve seen so far got stuck with the worst AI and abilities in the game.
The biggest reason to call Kung Fu Strike a fighter, rather than a scrolling brawler game, would be due to the basic arenas on offer. Most are little more than a small square or rectangular areas, nothing sweeping and I’m yet to see platforming of any type. The scene’s look nice enough but are all very basic.
There is also a nice progression system where new moves and equipment are purchased through gold dropped in mission. This encourages a little bit of grinding in earlier levels to get you geared up. Of course the mention of “grinding” probably alarmed some of you, but it works well because rather than mindlessly grinding, you are actively honing your skills. Practicing on easier levels moving from a “D” score to an “A”, while collecting a little bit of gold is a great way to prepare you for the exponentially harder later levels.
Which brings me to my next point; calling all the missions in the game “challenge missions” would be apt as this one hell of a tough game. I’ve been rolling through the missions on easy and will still find myself restarting the mission upwards of ten times. I would be tempted to say it’s due to my PC purist reliance on the keyboard as a controller, but the developer actually provided a walkthrough with the game so I must not be the only one suffering. It’s an unforgiving game and one that requires you to learn how to block and dodge from an early point.
The difficulty does get in the way of the fun at times. If I’m playing on easy I want to be able have a crack at a level and get it done with in a couple of tries. Even on easy Kung Fu Strike is tough. It would have been nice for the game to give the player a bit of breathing room and an introductory difficulty level, so you could ease in to the game and ramp up the difficulty at your leisure. Oh well, there’s always more practicing.
My other complaint is that Kung Fu Strike is that it has a blatant case of console-itis. No one wants to “Press Enter” on the start screen in a PC game. But something PC gamers DO like is the ability to change their resolution! Oh and be able to re-map their keys. These are basic necessities of a PC game so I was pretty shocked to find them missing.
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise is an interesting experimentation into the world of the single player campaign fighting game. I’m not entirely sure if that was the developer’s intention, but I’m coining the phrase right now because I’m a genius. It’s a concept that works well and may seduce some new blood into the hand-cramp-inducing world of fighters. Regardless of its solid concept, Kung Fu Strike’s punishing difficulty and glaring console-centric PC fidelity omissions stop it being the new king of fighters. If you’re up for a challenge and want to dip your foot in to the world of fighting games, or keen for a fighting game trying out something different to the normal VERSUS formula give it a go, I’m giving Kung Fu Strike 3/5