Tuesday, 1 July 2003

Archive Review: Kung-Fu Chaos

(Xbox Review)

What? Who dares stand before my drunken tiger mantis fist style? It looks like a challenger created by Microsoft named Kung-Fu Chaos! How dare this spawn of programming challenge me! He who hatheth conquered Karate Champ. The very same warrior who slammed Yi-Ar Kung-Fu! So it is Microsoft with the latest in 70's Kung-Fu style retro stomping action with great characters, great music, great gameplay and multiplayer heaven? I accept the challenge!

"Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting!"

Anyone remember the 1970's? Amongst the political sleaze, strange architecture, deranged gray suits with pink ties and other terrifying fashion, oh and this, there was little to shout about. Computer gaming was a mere abstract concept with little thought. It lived in a World of dreams in the minds of the more creative. This was way before the days of the Sinclair Spectrum with its impressive 48k of ram.

But one thing that was kicking - literally - was the Kung-Fu scene. The glory days of Enter the Dragon and Chinese Super Ninja (which is not to be mistaken with Super Chinese Ninja) were at hand. Chuck Norris had his beard, and no-one messed with this bad ass moffo master

Director Shao Ting, the legend, of course, has gathered a collection of cheeky, happy, clappy, mostly jappy type fellows and fellowesses to his studio to star in his upcoming Kung-Fu flick. This is the story but it actually bogs down to you facing off the other warriors and evil ninjas in a series of duels, bundles, and brawls. You see in the 70's they had no CGI or means to "fake" the action. Well they didn't if you believe the games story for in this the reason you fight is because real fighting is the only way to make an action movie, apparently. Who are we to argue?

The basic premise to this game is good old fashioned fighting. You select one of the characters who each possess a unique style and play quite differently. There's the Lone Wolf and Cub duo, Chop & Styx, Cleopatra Jones' long lost sista, Lucy Cannon, Monkey (the Monkey God) and a variety of others. The only missing battlers from this bunch is a Drunken Master and Shaolin Slammer - which is quite a shame really. The levels you play on mostly consist, in single player, of having to flaw as many assailants as you can in the given time. But there are many novelty style game types, including saving the stuntman, dodging the seals, avoiding the cows which are being hurled at you from above - fun. The basic system is based on stars. You have 5 star slots and the fight begins with 0 stars. To gain them you quite simply have to kill baddies. The more you kill the better. You need at least 3 stars to pass any given stage.

The amazing and first thing you will be struck by in this game is the soundtrack. You have the classic Kung-Fu fighting Carl Douglas style, the infamous Enter the Dragon theme music, and if these get boring why not rip your own music onto the Xbox hard drive and create your own soundtrack! Finally games developers are getting the idea and actually adding this feature! Then again, this is a Microsoft title so therefore it would be a joke for them not to include it really.

Where this game shines is the multiplayer. In "battle" mode you can take on your pals or the computer in single player without the hindrance of an actual objective. What makes this great for multiplayer is the record feature. You can play back your fights but not only this, you can edit the footage in a vast and powerful number of ways from zooming in, changing the camera angles, even creating slow-motion "Matrix" style effects and save your fondest mayhem memories :)

Multiplayer bone crunching action is not limited to a simple "last man standing" wins affair. There are a number of comical and wacky game types. Why not play style mode where the winner is the one who pulls off the most varied types of moves? Try Mojo mission where the winner is the player who keeps their "Mojo" for the longest time. Then comes wooden man. He who wineth the duel is he who claims the most men carved from wood. Bizarre yet oddly reminiscent of the 70's.

You get a training mode too and this acts like your standard move sparing system. So what is the fighting style like in Kung Fu Chaos? I compare the fighting system in this game to Bowling. Seems simple, is easy to understand, but requires a wise warrior to master. It is more complex than it seems. You get basic punch/kick action with abilities to string vast numbers of combination attacks. The combo system is fun and the amount of stringed attacks really is colossal with each character boasting unique moves and combi's. If you perform three successful taunts during a fight then you can perform special moves. This special move will crush the enemy and turn any poor receiver into a dark red stain on the level texture. Not quite Ricky-Oh, but a harsh lesson in martial arts, old school style.

With such a basic, yet tough to master, style to the game Kung Fu Chaos can, and does, often turn into a button-mashing clash of egotistic gamers. Many a time have I and my larger-than-life buddies fought savagely to be the first to get the special move. The fights often turn into "first to get the special move wins" affairs. This game is exactly what it looks like - Super Smash Bro's Melee but without the mental items and Mario.

If your a fan of Smash Bro's style unlocking gameplay Kung Fu Chaos will tease you with a huge amount to set free. Costumes, modes, levels, options, and even a character are there for the taking. The question is, will you be able to see the path and walk it? Will you prevail in the cruel world of 1970's-old-school-wise-old-man-mystery-martial-arts?

One thing I got annoyed with, and so have many others to my knowledge, is the Director character Shao Ting. He is a really, really, annoying character with a loud, obnoxious voice and just get's on my nerves big time. He is also stupid and really tedious. But, alas, you can mute the fool and even turn off his entire basis of existence - disable "direction". I am not sure if you can kill him. I have a feeling it is possible but would require a black-belt of skill.

This game should appeal to two types: People who dig the era this games portrays and who enjoy a light hearted approach to martial arts brawling, and those of us that enjoy the Smash. Bro's style gameplay of extras to unlock and wacky level design. On a whole I really enjoyed this game. If you want a solid multiplayer title look no further than Kung Fu Chaos.

It has a solid feel, solid graphics with a good frame rate and attractive colors, and it also boasts great music and awesome sound effects. That "old school" feeling was never more prominent than when hearing the classic bad dubbing, overly loud thuds, and crazy "Hey-Ya's" of the 70's. This game includes all of this retro sound.

Just call me The Big Boss.

Indeed a worthy opponent



Strong Kung-Fu action, many game modes, lots to unlock.


No Drunken Master, button mashing tendencies, can you spell depth?


Good old arcade style, 70's inspired, innocent fun

by Joey T 2003

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