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Kung-Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors Box Art
GENRE
Action
DEVELOPER
A2M
PUBLISHER
Activision
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1-4
WI-FI ENHANCED
No
DS COMPATIBLE
Yes
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Kung-Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors

Dreamworks’ animated action feature, Kung-Fu Panda, released earlier this year to generally positive reviews. Alongside the movie was the video game tie-in Kung-Fu Panda, whose reviews, perhaps surprisingly, were also pretty good. Just a few months later, Dreamworks released a second game title -- Kung-Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors -- to coincide with the DVD release of the Kung Fu Panda movie. Unfortunately, this second installment in the gaming saga ends up being a brief and boring continuation of Po’s story.

visuals

The game has a pretty nice coat of paint. Character models are nicely-rendered and show some fidelity to the movie property. Backgrounds, although pretty constrained, look reasonably good. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the game’s visual presentation, though, lies in the cutscenes, which are presented in the same storyboard style as the movie’s opening sequence; the look is really slick, mixing still shots with classic animation.

audio

As is the case with many Dreamworks-backed game efforts, the sound of Legendary Warriors is high caliber. The voicework is above-grade; many of the original cast reprise their roles in the game, and those that don’t are replaced by good facsimiles. There is a decent amount of dialogue; outside of the tutorials, every line in the game is delivered by a voice actor, and some of the lines are pretty clever. The music, set in the classic Japanese style, is somewhat less impressive (it is not the same as the movie’s soundtrack) but does make use of a full orchestra.

gameplay

Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors is a fighter-style brawler masquerading as an action game. In other words, the storyline primarily involves battling hordes of (largely identical) enemies in small, static levels that must be overcome before being transferred to other, small static levels. Think of it as Double Dragon in an arena.

The storyline takes place after the events of the movie, with a new menace threatening the village. The plot itself is pretty straightforward but will generally appeal to fans of the film. At the outset, players can choose to play as Po, Tigress, Monkey or Shifa. Each of the characters has his or her own unique fighting style that takes into account size and agility; larger characters like Po seem to hit harder, but smaller characters, such as Shifa, seem to maneuver more quickly.

Although the crux of the game is that of an arena brawler, a few minigames are sprinkled into the mix. These minigames all employ waggle in some form, ranging from timing-based motions to reflex actions; they are a decent diversion from the main action but are not necessarily much fun. In fact, some of them can be downright annoying, thanks to some issues in motion implementation that make failing quite easy. More on this in a minute.

What’s more, the whole package is on the short side. There are just six levels to be fought in the game; a single run-through of the whole storyline can be effected in 3-4 hours. Legendary Warriors tries to pad things out by offering various characters and difficulty levels, but the stages still feel largely the same, regardless of what characters are chosen or how hard the level is. In truth, repetitiveness is a real burden on the title; all of the levels feel like pretty much the same affair, even for a game this short.

Even the faster characters, though, can be unresponsive thanks to the sluggish controls. Most attacks are motion-based, and they’re not very responsive, so it can be very hard for characters to pull off a successful combo. Main attacks, for example, are effected by a flick-up or -down of the Wii remote, but the game doesn’t always register attacks, leaving a player vulnerable to incoming shots. Special chi attacks require drawing specific images on the screen, but there is no “Celestial Brush” as in Okami, so there is no way to know if the motion is right unless it rings in as a success. Often the game fails to register what would seem to be an accurate “drawing,” leading to some frustrating outcomes, especially with some of the more elaborate letters.

multiplayer

Multiplayer for the game comes in two flavors: cooperative multiplayer for the main story mode and competitive multiplayer in a dedicated versus mode. Co-op is the basic two-player offline, where two players team up to take on the main storyline. Having two players adds a bit of fun to the whole package, but it is also unbalanced. The game ostensibly sends out the same number of enemies regardless of whether one or two players are playing, so co-op is a breeze compared to going it alone.

Versus mode is a pretty standard arena fighter, with 1 - 4 players duking it out using characters from the movie and game in either team combat or a free-for-all mode. Characters are unlocked by completing certain objectives in the story mode. (A few extra versus characters are also unlocked by linking the Wii version of Legendary Warriors with its DS counterpart.) Most of the characters have unique skill sets, although they don’t seem particularly balanced; some characters are significantly more useful than others.

overall

Dreamworks released Kung-Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors alongside another movie tie-in -- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. While Escape 2 Africa is actually pretty good, Legendary Warriors most certainly is not. Clunky controls, claustrophobic environments, mundane combat, and a brief story mode all conspire to make this a forgettable experience. Although the most fervent fans of Kung Fu Panda might find the additional storyline to have some interest, most people are best off leaving this one on the shelf.



final score 5.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Joshua Johnston
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"Round 1! Fight!"


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