Posted in: Game Reviews by Archive Authors on June 1st, 2003
During the 1970’s, Kung Fu and martial arts films were the in thing. Bruce Lee and the cheap Hong Kong action film were leading the wave of popularity of the Far Eastern martial arts. Even music of the time reflected America’s love of the Kung Fu culture with a hit song entitled Kung Fu Fighting.
Now Microsoft has brought all of the fun and campy nature of those old 35 mm films to life here on the Xbox. Kung Fu Chaos is a colorful, tongue-in-cheek fighter that is influenced by the Hong …ong action films of the mid 70’s. Players can choose from eight unique looking fighters and take them on in a trash talking, knock down brawl.
Deep, smooth colors and interesting ‘movie sets’ are the backdrop with Kung Fu and players will most likely enjoy the cheesy, hastily built ‘stages’ where the fighting action takes place. Most of the standard B-movie areas are present here like the multi-story pagoda or greasy noodle shop, but gamers will even get to duke it out on sets reminiscent of a dinosaur infested island and even the decks of the Titanic.
Indeed, the environments are rich and full of movement, but what makes them really interactive is when during a fight, they start to fall apart. This just adds to the overall ‘cheap’ feeling of a thrown together low budget film and the results are some hilarious actions by the fighters while the director can be heard screaming in the background.
The fighter models are well done and consist of a fair number of polygons apiece. They are all unique looking and move at a good framerate while trading blows and insults. The standard “Ninja” fighter is here along with a roller skating starlet, an African American women based on a 1970’s police women drama, the Sensei, and even a Mexican Kung Fu brawler.
Using some of the advanced features on the Xbox console, Kung Fu Chaos can use a custom soundtrack that you have saved on your hard drive for use in the game. But it is highly recommended that you at least battle with the standard soundtrack once–it fits nicely with the whole 70’s theme and contains the theme song from Enter the Dragon. Whichever option you do choose though, you will be able to listen to it in Dolby Digital through your home theater, or normal stereo on any tv setup.
The meat of Kung Fu Chaos is fighting, and doing it on chintzy studio sets. Players can select a fighter from the roster and then take that fighter onto a ‘movie set’ where you will receive directions from an off-camera director. Each fighter has his and her own combo moves to deploy in the heat of battle, so it is probably a good idea to use the in-game tutorial to get used to the myriad of combos before starting out in one of the game play options such as Mini Series or Battle Game.
One of the neat fighting effects you can use on your opponent is the insult. While your enemy is down on the ground after a volley of hits from you, you can spew a mouthful of insults that will keep them down long enough for you to execute a finishing blow–this comes in handy in dealing with boss characters. The insult is an important maneuver indeed; it allows you time to even pick up your enemy and throw them off the ‘stage’.
Overall, the pace of the game and the control scheme is fairly straight forward and moves along at a good pace. Yet, many times it just feels like basic button smashing when it comes down to trying to execute a long string of combo hits with any precision. The button smashing gets the job done however albeit a tad clunky.
Kung Fu Chaos is a great game for the casual player of the fighter genre or someone who can enjoy the cheekiness of the humor wrapped up in the gameplay. The falling set pieces, screaming director, and overall “cheezeball” nature of a B-film go hand in hand here.
This adds really great atmosphere to the title and makes it a light and airy game for any fighter fan. With the included multiplayer feature, up to three other friends can join you in the brawl and make it a ‘film to remember’.