Before Streets Of Rage. Before River City Ransom. Even before Double Dragon one game was released that put Beat em ups on the map in a big way. That game was Kung Fu for the NES, a port of the arcade hit Kung Fu Master which we wont reference from here on out as the review is on Kung Fu, not Kung Fu Master. Anyway the main object of Kung Fu, like every other beat em up you have ever played is to beat the utter **** out of everything that comes onto your screen. So how do the **** get kicked more than 20 years after the games release? Read on to find out.
Gameplay (7 out of 10)
To start off Kung Fu is a movie tie in to Wheels on Meals staring Jackie Chan, In stereotypical fashion the movie involves Chan's character Thomas saving the Damsel in distress, named Sylvia. I wont go into too much detail about the movies plot as it doesn't really effect the game, however if your really interested just go see it.
Does this remind anyone else of Mario?
Anyway, you play as a Thomas(Chan) who must save the damsel in distress (Sylvia)You do this by making it from the start of a level to the end of a level by walking from one side to the other in a traditional side scroller style.Sounds simple enough? Well it is, other than the fact there is a whole range of enemy's just waiting to belt the crap out of you. From those who just run and hug you to death (Yea I know, What the hell is that all about!) until you can shake them off, knife throwing enemy's who you have to watch to decide weather you need to duck or jump to dodge getting sliced open, snakes, dragons that breath fire, front flipping midgets and more. But the most challenging thing is that every level has its own unique boss. For an early Beat Em Up Kung Fu had a great range of enemy's.
Jump or crouch, you have about 2 seconds to decide.
The controls while basic are everything you could ask for in a NES game. Up/Down/Left/Right to move left,right and to jump and crouch. B to Kick and A to punch. You can (And need to for certain enemy's) do fly kicks/punches and duck while kicking and punching. The thing that makes the controls so great is that Kung Fu is not a button masher, if your hoping you will fire your NES up and click A and B as fast as you can your not going to get very far. You need to time every attack, remember how to attack every enemy and so on. That being said one of the games biggest downfalls is that is it a fairly hard game, not that hard that it will turn you off if your a beat em up fan, if anything it will make you play more and get better but I imagine those with a short gaming attention span will be turned off by the fact the game is hard if your not willing to learn how to fight each enemy.
Sound (6 out of 10)
Now the sound is pretty solid but nothing great (I am of course comparing it to other games in the NES library) While the level intro tune in unforgettable and the sound effects for kicking, etc are great the game feels very quite at times (as there is no background music playing). It doesn't really hurt the experience but it does make it feel a lot slower than it should at times. Overall though the sound is a solid effort.
Graphics (6.5 of 10)
Again the graphics are solid for its release date but there nothing really that special by comparison of other NES titles, what they do right however is the fact the characters are quite large on screen when compared to many other future beat em ups like Double Dragon, you can always clearly see what the characters are doing and the animation is fairly solid for the time. There is nothing really that special that stands out but the game is still very playable by today's standards and a lot of that is because the graphics while basic mean that they don't look as dated as many other NES titles.
Yep....Its a midget....humping your leg!
Replay Value (8 out of 10)
Because of how hard the game is you will more than likely be playing it quite often, it has the tendency to leave you with close to no health by the time you reach the levels boss meaning you die, but being so close you can help but want to do it all again. The game also features a MODE B which is the same game only harder. It also has 2 player in both MODE A and MODE B so if you can find a friend who has an eye for either beat em ups or just retro games in general you can get them in on it, that being said the Multiplayer is just 'take in turns' gameplay where you compete for the high score (much like the original Super Mario Bros.)
Whats a Kung Fu game without dragons?
Overall (6.95 out of 10)
Kung Fu is one of the Granddaddy's of the beat em up genre. Its an early example of why so many of us love these types of games. Its a solid beat em up and solid example of a game based on a movie done right.
Bottom Line: Its a worthy addition to any Retro gamers (Or Beat Em Up lovers) NES library.