It’s not every day you come across a game that frustrates you in both a good and bad way, while obviously not caring in the slightest. The “Nintendo hard” kind of game has a very particular niche to fill in the tastes of gamers – a niche that has only steadily begun to be filled again in recent memory. It’s also quite unexpected to see such a game type blended with something equally as niche-filling as classic Chinese cinema. Today, this very peculiar type of game takes form in Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise, a 3D brawler and the first game ever developed by Chinese studio Qooc Soft. For a first title, it’s certainly impressive.
The plot of Kung Fu Strike starts out simple enough. In ancient China, you play as a prince named Loh, forcefully sent into exile in a plot to usurp the throne for himself. The only way you can figure out who masterminded the fall of your family and set things right is to beat the crap out of everyone and everything that gets in your way. The plot as a whole is pretty much an extended homage to classic Chinese martial arts movies, and purely exists to set up the overall aesthetic of the world. Additionally, the story is told through drawn cutscenes instead of using the game’s engine or CGI. For what the game is as a whole, this style of storytelling works quite well.
Gameplay also starts simple enough, as is traditional with 3D brawlers, but it quickly becomes quite complex. You have your basic button actions – light and weak attacks, counters, jumps, and dodge rolling – and your special actions that add more variety to each fight. Such actions usually consist of holding down buttons, and can vary from summoning allies and performing continuous attacks, to deflecting waves of projectiles and dishing out brutal chi moves. You’re also challenged to rack up as high a score as you can in each of the game’s 28 stages, which can be achieved through stringing together moves into long combos. Unfortunately, said challenge ties into the shortcomings of the game.
There’s no sugarcoating the main issue with Kung Fu Strike – it is ridiculously hard. Even on the easiest difficulty, the game still somehow manages to kick you in the nether-regions repeatedly the farther you get into it. Second to that is the issue of needing to grind. Due to all of the upgrades requiring thousands of gold to get, and with you only getting hundreds at best in stages, replaying stages is pretty much necessary to be able to max out your stats. This can quite likely lead to the game feeling repetitive as a result.
Additionally, the game has 4 extra challenges in the form of the Master Level DLC. Each of them consists of a different focus, such as countering attacks or defeating as many enemies as possible in a time limit, but it still all amounts to getting the most points possible. It’s also telling that these challenges have no easy difficulty, given the name of the DLC, meaning that having your stats completely maxed out is pretty much necessary to even stand a chance.
Overall, Kung Fu Strike isn’t quite as memorable as one would want it to be, but is still enjoyable to experience every once in a while (much like the Chinese martial arts movies it styles itself after). Just make sure not to get so frustrated that you wind up Buddha-stomping your controller.
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