Johnny Kung Fu: Play the game, but mind your watch

August 7, 2012

At first, Johnny Kung Fu appears to have potential, with its mix of retro electronic-gaming-inspired gameplay and the kung fu combat levels. Unfortunately, it takes less than 15 minutes to realize it squanders this potential by doing absolutely nothing with it.So, Johnny knows kung fu. That’s presumably why his name is Johnny Kung Fu. Why the Mr. Wang Gang would then go and kidnap his girlfriend and invite him to get her back by going floor by floor through their building is beyond me. I certainly wouldn’t target him, when there are surely others to victimize who do not know kung fu. Regardless, it doesn’t matter. It’s a flimsy attempt at wrapping an overarching narrative onto what is essentially a microgame collection, a la WarioWare , with a highly Game & Watch-inspired aesthetic.

There’s a dearth of variety in the types of microgames you will play. There’s a Donkey Kong-inspired game that takes the aesthetic of the handheld devices of yore. This game is the one you’ll get sick of first, as it appears very often, harder each time. There’s a bomb juggling game that is very reminiscent of one of the mindless Game & Watch games, and then there’s a number of combat games. This is where they had a chance to spice up the game, but they failed miserably in that regard.

Combat is extremely simplistic. Enemies other than bosses only take three hits to die, and all they do is rush you. This results in mind-numbing button mashing that gets you through every non-boss encounter without any danger or damage. The bosses are all pattern-based, though none are terribly difficult to figure out and beat. As you advance, new moves are unlocked, but aside from being used in boss patterns, there’s no use for them.

When you start a new game, and there’s no saving progress so all games are new games, you are given an hour to beat the game. Each time you lose three lives, five minutes of time are eaten up in exchange for three more lives. And… that’s it. That’s the game. Oh sure, survival modes for the various electronic handheld-inspired levels are unlocked, but they are merely an exercise in frustration with no reward for progress in them.

While the homage to the legacy gadgets of yesteryear could have led to an intriguing game with interesting gameplay, the lack of variety or depth doom Johnny Kung Fu to the depths of the eShop. Which is sadly the only place you’ll find any depth with this title.

Pros: Nostalgic, Game & Watch-inspired graphics
Cons: Lack of variety, little replay value, shallow gameplay

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.