Kung Fu Kid Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1987 Also On: None

Yet again I come across a type of game rarely seen anymore, the beat em’ up arcade style smash fest that used to be so popular for awhile and eventually dominated the arcades until the coming of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. There were a ton of these in the 8-Bit era, so many that I can hardly remember them all offhand. You have some like the classic Kung Fu for the NES as well as Fist of the North Star for the Mark III. Programmers milked this genre to hell back in the day, and Kung Fu Kid fits perfectly in there. It’s not spectacular, but overall an enjoyable title and one to own if you’re an SMS fan or a fan of this genre in general.

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Graphically, Kung Fu Kid isn’t that bad, but it has some flaws. Certain enemies haven’t been animated very well and your character, Wang, is unforunately among them. His gait is strange and some of his movements just feel odd other than his low kick, which is really the only attack where he seems to be laying out the power. His face looks almost like one of those Fisher Price little people, sans mouth. The shading on his back leg as he walks also looks off. The majority of the enemies, however, look fairly detailed with well designed movements. A few move like puppets, such as the ‘little phantom girls’ later in the game. Apparently their joints are too stiff, which is probably why they suck at fighting. Where this game really looks good are the backgrounds. The first few levels have a ton of color and detail and though flat make for a nice atmosphere that definitely fits the theme. Later though there is some repetition, especially the second temple level, which pretty much looks like the first with different colors, though the paper screen design at the end is excellent, featuring a large dragon with an enormous amount of detail. Too bad you only see it for about a second or two. The last level occurs on top of the temple and they did a great job of suggesting this, even throwing in some cool lightening effects for show. Enemies rarely repeat that much, and all the bosses are different which adds a lot of variety in the design. However, since some of them are very small, you almost can’t make out exactly what they are or what they’re doing, so I have to dock off some points for that. The opening title screen is pretty killer, but the ending is way weak. I’d say Kung Fu Kid is average in this category for the most part.

Unfortunately, I have to also say that the sound is about average as well in Kung Fu Kid. The opening track is totally pathetic, doesn’t even capture much of what you find in this game and sounds like it has almost no bass whatsoever. The first song for the opening level is very fitting; it has what sounds like an Asian feel to it and follows along with the action. However, they reuse this track a few times, and the other two songs don’t really seem to fit at all. The one used in the temple climbing levels starts off strange and then flows into something similar to the first level. A little too childish though for the content of the game. Level five has music that really doesn’t fit at all and the final track when you beat the game doesn’t even make any sense. It sounds like a bunch of random notes and sounds thrown together, totally without order. On a good note though, the sound effects are perfect. The sounds when Wang smashes enemies is powerful and all the little details in sound fit nicely. Thankfully they did that aspect right, because it really adds to the feel of Kung Fu Kid overall. Again though, average.

Kung Fu Kid is a beat em’ up title, so essentially you move around and beat the crap out of whatever comes your way. You start with four lives and no continues and have to travel through seven levels. The first gripe I have with this game is Wang’s attack. You only kick, and not only do you only kick, really only one of these kicks is good enough to progress. If you try the jump kick, you usually end up getting hit here and there because you jump so dang high and the low kick never really seems to connect before you get struck, so there may be a collision detection problem here as well. In addition, there is only one power up to speak of, and you can’t really use it because you need to save them for level five so you can kill the zombies because they won’t die otherwise and touching them is lethal. There is a special jar to ward off fireballs but it isn’t easy to find, as well as a sweet bun to replenish life, but they are placed in areas where you don’t really need them so are pretty much superfluous.

Aside from these flaws, however, Kung Fu Kid is a dang fun game to play. The enemies are numerous and come at you endlessly, so you really have to move to progress. The bosses are excellent, most of them are quite difficult and you have to figure out their weaknesses in order to defeat them. One or two are pathetic, but overall these beasts will give you a challenge, especially round five boss Zombie King Tao. After five normally running levels, you then go into a tournament mode where you have to fight a series of five bosses. After this you’re on top of the temple and finally take on Madanda. Too bad for him though because the guy is a total waste and you’ll button mash the hell out of him in little time. Could have made him more difficult because it was probably one of the most disappointing final rounds I’ve ever played. Overall I had a great time playing this game, it has a lot of character and the wide variety of bosses and enemies makes for an interesting title. The flaws I mentioned aren’t that annoying but they do affect the score. Once you get the hang of it and Wang’s tremendous leaps you’ll have a lot of fun.

As far as creativity, Kung Fu Kid doesn’t really do anything too new to stand out. I don’t mind that it’s just another beat em’ up, but the whole different boss idea was done awhile ago with the arcade legend Yie Ar Kung Fu, though that wasn’t a platforming fighter like this. Also, the lack of any cool power ups kind of ruins this score, this game really needed some additional weapons or something, that would have made it incredible. I will give credit for the variety of bosses, however, but that’s about it.

One thing about Kung Fu Kid is that it’s great fun to play, I’ve come back to this one several times just for something to do and I’m sure other gamers who are fans of the SMS would as well. The only problem I had with it is that after you get the weaknesses of the bosses figured out, it’s a breeze to play, too much of a breeze in fact. I completed it again for this review and it seriously took me about ten minutes. Now, considering Kung Fu for the NES, it’s definitely longer, but for the time period I expect a little more and the former is a lot more difficult, which makes up for the length. Kung Fu Kid is very difficult at first and you’ll come back to it several times to complete it, but it may seem too easy for hardcore gamers after this and you may feel no need to play it ever again because the ending is terrible.

Overall, Kung Fu Kid is an average game. It has some flaws in nearly every department, but not enough to make it suck, so be happy for that. It has a lot of character and plenty to offer for beat em’ up fans, just not enough to really make its mark in the history of video games as anything significant. There are plenty of better games like this for the SMS. Still, nevertheless, if you’re looking for a decent game that you can sit down with now and then, check it out, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 5.5
Gameplay: 6.5
Creativity: 4
Replay Value/Game Length: 4.5
Final: 5.3
Written by Stan Review Guide

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