| |

Xiaolin Showdown Review

Developer: Bottlerocket Entertainment Publisher: Konami
Release Date: November 14, 2006 Also On: PS2, PSP and Xbox

Many children’s cartoons have been turning into video games of late. THQ has released games for nearly every Nickelodeon cartoon of any decent popularity. Crave has recently released games for the GBA based on a couple Cartoon Network programs, and Game Factory has released a Mario Kart game with other Cartoon Network characters. Konami has been in on the cartoon license craze at least since 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES, and that trend continues with Xiaolin Showdown, a game based on the cartoon of the same name.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

Xiaolin Showdown showcases the story of four young monks in training who must find and protect a set of mystically-powered objects called Shen Gon Wu from the forces of evil. Each monk has his own elemental mastery, and the four work together to achieve their goals, although they do so often by engaging in one-on-one Xiaolin showdowns with their opponents. If you’ve never seen the cartoon, the introductory sequence to the game gives you enough of a back story that you’ll have some idea what’s going on.

Graphically, Xiaolin Showdown is competent, but not overly impressive. The graphics do indicate the graphical style of the cartoon, but they are not as detailed or impressive as the graphics in the cartoon. There is little excuse for this since current-generation consoles are certainly capable of replicating the graphics of the cartoon. Still, the graphics are good enough to get the job done.

In terms of sound, the sound effects are pretty standard fare, so I don’t really have much to say for or against them. What music there is is fine, but it is not anything overly memorable or addictive. The high point of the sound is easily the voice acting. The characters that speak are voice-acted perfectly, although most of the actual script belongs to the bad guys. Beyond that and the one-liners of the monks’ pet dragons to inform the monks of what they are supposed to do, the voice-acting consists of the monks calling out the name of a Shen Gon Wu when they use it. Overall, the sound is better than the graphics, but improvement could still have been made.

In terms of the gameplay, the story to this game isn’t very profound. There are no major cutscenes between levels or anything, leaving you with little knowledge of why you’re doing much of what you’re doing. In many games, not knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing isn’t a problem. In this one, it is. Why, you ask? Let me tell you.

This game is repetitive. Each level consists of the same things. You beat up some enemies, you get a piece of a scroll, you repeat this process two more times, and then a Shen Gon Wu appears and your four characters battle with an enemy for it in a mini-game (every third level or so, you will fight a boss instead of playing a mini-game). The battle engine in this game is relatively simple. Yes, you can use a variety of different combos through different presses of two buttons, although you must always start it with the same button. Yes, each character has a special move unique to them. Yes, the characters can use Shen Gon Wu in battle. Each character even has the ability to jump and do a series of jump attacks from the air.

The problem is this. With the possible exception of the Shen Gon Wu, you have no real need to utilize the complexities of the battle system. You can just mash on the attack button and beat most if not all of the enemies, and those that can’t be beaten that way can be beaten by abusing the jump attack series. This, of course, is assuming that you even care to battle at all. If you don’t, you can just sit back and let the reasonably competent AI battle for you in most cases, although there are some things that a human-controlled player has to do. Actually, the computer players can get in your way sometimes because they’re after the enemies themselves, but I’d rather have that than AI that just sat around and did nothing

All this is not to say that there aren’t some advantages to this game. The adventure mode can be played by up to four people simultaneously, which is certainly a plus. Granted, the adventure mode isn’t overly lengthy, clocking in at probably six or seven hours. There doesn’t seem to be any way to die either The worst that can happen is that you collapse, but, if that happens, all you have to do is rapidly hit a button to get back up. That makes an already simplistic game easy as well. It could still be fun for four people to play together though, but don’t expect a challenge if you do so.

On top of the adventure mode, you can also go back and play any showdown that you’ve previously played in a showdown mode. There’s not much replay value to these showdowns though, as they all seem a little too similar to party games I’ve seen in the Mario Party series or its clones, and there aren’t that many of them. Still, this mode is a nice touch. In short, though, this game is repetitive, not overly lengthy, and lacks much replay value, although the ability for four-player multi-player in the adventure mode redeems it somewhat. However, unless you’re a significantly big fan of the cartoon on which this game is based, I’d recommend against it.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.8
Written by Martin Review Guide