The VITA is such an odd little console at times, it’s the clear powerhouse of the handheld market but for some reason it’s become the go to place for mobile ports. I guess it’s the direct analog of its touchscreen to that of a smartphone’s but thankfully most of these ports don’t ignore what is the VITA’s most important feature with these games, buttons. This is especially important because for some damned reason platformers are a huge thing on the mobile markets despite the fact that touch pads make for generally shitty movement controls. Getting to control these games with actual responsive buttons is generally a godsend compared to the mobile versions and that is totally the case for today’s game Kung Fu Rabbit.
The game looks and feels like a mix of Rayman Origins and Super Meat Boy, precision platforming with an offbeat yet very appealing cartoony art style. The story focuses on a showboat kung fu master rabbit showing off his hot moves to the local villagers, then aliens capture everyone because this is a video game and conflict needs to happen. At this point you then need to platform through a bunch of vaguely Asian themed levels that don’t really seem to follow any sort of pattern in order to save all your fellow lagomorphs. It’s a light story but it works well enough as a framing device. The real selling point though is the art style, it’s got a nice thick lined look with a focus on rounded squares, simple but charming. The whole thing kind of reminds me of what cartoons portrayed video games as back in the ’90s, the sort of thing you’d see mindlessly being played in the background of a Dexter’s Lab episode.
Gameplay wise things aren’t quite as polished as the art direction, the jumping feels a little floaty and the puzzle design is a hare too derivative. It’s also a much slower paced platformer than you might expect when you look at its inspirations, it’s less the hyperactive million death mania that is something like Super Meat Boy and more a thinking man’s trial and error and sort of thing, still challenging but less unforgiving. Planning is much more important but it loses that muscle memory euphoria you get from something faster. They do try to enhance things with a number of bonuses and buffs you can buy with carrots that you collect in every level; the game is $5 here but was free on the mobile market so I assume those were things you had to pay real money for before. Either way they’re a nice addition and the more expensive “artifacts” actually do change the game in some significant ways, making you faster or allowing you to attack enemies from better angles.
Overall it’s a pretty fun little game though certainly with some issues, the levels don’t really blend thematically as well as they could and for as charming as the art style is the gameplay is rather standard. That said for $5 you could certainly do worse, while the gameplay doesn’t take that many risks it’s more than fun enough to keep your attention and there’s a lot of levels here to enjoy. So if you’re looking for a cheap yet enjoyable platformer on the VITA then this isn’t a terrible option and if you’re unsure you could always just check out the mobile version first and buy this afterwards for controls that don’t require you to cover the screen with your fat greasy thumbs.