Kung Fu Panda is the newest movie from Dreamworks Animation Studios and follows the adventure of Po the Panda as he transforms from one of the laziest animals in the Valley of Peace into the Dragon Warrior. The game released with the same name is published by Activision and is based on the movie, but doesn’t exactly follow the storyline of the movie.
You play the role of Po beginning with the celebration where Po is selected as the Dragon Warrior. The game takes you through the proper Kung Fu training to begin your journey. As you play through the 13 levels, you will collect coins that allow you to upgrade Po’s abilities. These upgrades span basic techniques as well as special moves that Po learns through his journey.
The game itself is a pretty standard 3rd-person action adventure game. It was entertaining enough that I kept coming back to play more and it was easy enough that my 4-year-old was able to play through a few levels on his own.
Combat is handled with face buttons as you would expect in a game of this type, but boss battles are very different. Boss fights mix one part real-time combat with one part rhythm game. A combination of buttons appear on the screen and you must press them in order. Failure to do so has you restarting that particular section of your battle with the boss beginning with the end of the last successfully completed section of the battle. I found these parts especially frustrating because each section of the boss battle was made up of 4 or more sequences of button pushes. This makes boss battles very cumbersome and annoying.
Graphically the game was very solid. Very beautiful and colorful environments were accompanied by Jack Black doing a great job of the voice work in the game. No artifacting or collision issues were present in my play through.
The game save system in Kung Fu Panda is a little clunky. When starting up a game it automatically finds your existing game if there is one and asks you to load it. The problem is that the prompt tells you it will overwrite your file if you don’t load it, leading to confusion. The auto-save feature keeps you from having to manually save. One upside is that you are able to change your auto-save slot while playing a level so you can easily duplicate your game save while playing.
One annoying issue I noticed is that when replaying a level, your original progress on that level is reset back to 0% and upon completion of the level, your game is auto-saved with the current level of completion on that level. In my case, I had 100% on all levels and my son played through and effectively wiped that progress out. I would have preferred to see your progress saved to allow you to eventually work your way up to 100% on some of the more difficult levels.
In the end, Kung Fu Panda is a decent game and worth the play through if you are looking to extend the theatrical experience. Unless you or your children are die hard fans of the movie, then this is probably a budget title or a week long rental.
Plays like: Most other 3rd person action/adventure titles
Pros: Fun, easy gameplay makes it suitable for the younger audience
Cons: Clunky save system, annoying boss battles
ESRB: E10+ for Fantasy Violence and some Mild Language