Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose kung fu skills were the stuff of legend…….well, something like that anyway. The warriors of the aptly named, Kung Fu Panda: Showdown Of Legendary Legends might not be quite as legendary as the name suggests, but despite the obvious fear of this being a horrendously rushed and horribly unnecessary movie tie-in, it’s actually a very solid, if somewhat unspectacular Smash Bros. clone……well, if you’re playing it on console anyway.
While inevitably unable to match the kind of polish, balance or character recognition of the Smash Bros. series, judged upon its own merits, Showdown Of Legendary Legends is a fundamentally solid brawler that does a surprisingly good job of emulating the extremely successful Smash Bros. template. The problem is, while the content and actual gameplay remains largely the same across all formats, the lack of optimisation for the 3DS has led to a potentially enjoyable video game being all but ruined by crippling slow down and poor responsiveness.
In fairness, when there are two characters on-screen, this feels like a very solid version of the console equivalent. It looks pretty good, the audio, complete with some very decent voice work, is largely great and, above all else, the gameplay is reasonably enjoyable. The hit detection is a bit iffy, but the core experience is entertaining albeit criminally derivative. The problems arise however as soon as a third or, God forbid, a fourth character is added to the mix. While I had no issues with the camera zoom on the larger 3DS XL screen, the slowdown that followed makes the game all but unplayable. This isn’t just annoying – it’s all but game breaking. Movements slow to a crawl while accurate strikes (already a bit of an issue due to the wonky hit detection), become all but impossible as you stutter your way across the otherwise beautifully designed stages swinging hopelessly (and often very slowly) at thin air.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time that a technical issue was so horribly damaging to a video game experience, but here, that horrendous slowdown really does make this game all but impossible to recommend. And it’s such a shame too as, despite its issues, Showdown Of Legendary Legends is fundamentally really rather fun. Sure, it inevitably compares poorly to the genre defining Smash Bros., but as a sort of budget alternative, Kung Fu Panda: Showdown Of Legendary Legends has all the potential to deliver a solid substitute, and with only two players on-screen, that’s exactly what it does.
With a move set ripped almost entirely from Smash Bros., there is nothing especially new to see here, but when everything is working, this really is Kung Fu Panda: Smash Edition. The stages are nicely designed and the items, while simplistic enough, certainly play their part in the action. Yes, it’s a little short on content, but what is here is potentially fun enough with local wireless multiplayer also thrown in for those with friends keen to get in on the action. As positive as this might sound though, unless you keep the character count down to two players per game (which really is missing the point in a game of this ilk), any positive aspects of the its design are completely undone by the game breaking technical deficiencies.
What could have been a fun, if somewhat lightweight, alternative to Super Smash Bros. is rendered all but pointless by a lack of optimisation for the 3DS version of the game. It was never going to compete with Nintendo’s classic brawler, but any chance it had of being judged positively on its own merits has essentially been shattered by the crippling slowdown that really does ruin what could have been an otherwise enjoyable little game and a genuinely decent tie-in for the eminently likeable Kung Fu Panda movies. The fundamental experience shows a lot of promise and the much smoother running console versions are certainly well worth a look (especially for those without a Nintendo console to call their own), but sadly, despite the strong framework, Kung Fu Panda: Showdown Of Legendary Legends proves a stuttering mess on the 3DS.
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