Kung-Fu Live Review

By Stephen Johnson - Posted Jan 03, 2011

I really wanted to like Kung Fu Live. The PlayStation 3 downloadable EyeToy game has a lot going for it: The presentation is goofy-cool, a silly, comic book world perfect for a slight, gimmicky title, and the hook of the game is awesome. The problem, though, is that the Eyetoy camera control system doesn't work very well, and turns what could have been a doofy little romp into a exercise in double-frustration.

The Pros
  • Amusing Presentation
  • Interesting Concept
The Cons
  • Lengthy, Picky Set-Up
  • Wonky Controls
  • Tiring and Frustrating

Kung Fu Live Review:

I really wanted to like Kung Fu Live. The PlayStation 3 downloadable EyeToy game has a lot going for it: The presentation is goofy-cool, a silly, comic book world perfect for a slight, gimmicky title, and the hook of the game is awesome. It uses the EyeToy to put you into the action, casting your digital image as the star of a side-scrolling, 2D martial arts beat-em-up. You are the controller and the avatar! The problem, though, is that the EyeToy camera control system doesn't work very well, and turns what could have been a doofy little romp into a exercise in double-frustration.

Kung Fu Live

Picky, Picky


Upon starting this game, you'll be confronted with a 15-screen tutorial aimed at getting you up and running. You'll need a ton of space -- more than Kinect requires -- so move your coffee table out of the way. Then the game will tell you that your room is too dark. I moved a ton of lamps into my playing area to get the correct lighting until my rumpus room was lit up like a Soviet interrogation room in Yugoslavia circa 1978, but Kung-Fu Live was still like, "It's too dark in there!" I don't live in a cave, Kung Fu Live! I think the game had problems with my dark walls, honestly.

Then, you'll have to change your clothing. Yeah. A wardrobe-change. My usual, all-drab wardrobe wasn't differentiated enough from the background to work, so I had to find some light-colored clothes.

If this all sounds like a ton of trouble, it is, trust me, and highlights the weakness of the EyeToy scheme versus the Microsoft Kinect. This is last year's game, and will make you love the Kinect's ability to just start up and work correctly. Any game that requires me to jump around and change my clothing is asking a hell of a lot.

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Chop-Sucky

When you've finally gotten your set-up going it time to fight! After amusing "cut-scenes" that consist of putting you into a comic book to explain the games loopy plot, you get your first glimpse of yourself on screen. To be honest, I'm a little disappointing as a Kung Fu hero. I'm used to playing as video game characters who aren't pasty, pudgy nerds.

Smartly, the game offers you very little in terms of specific moves. You can fight in your own style, and even use object from around the room to battle bad guys. Kung Fu Live reads the “weapons” you pick up, and expands your hit-box to include them. This is cool. I quickly grabbed a cardboard wrapping paper tube, and much like King Arthur and Excalibur, developed a unique relationship with it. I swung Tube-calibur with the force of a thousand Kung Fu masters, jumped around my living room, and basically made a jackass of myself.

At first, it's really fun and funny to see yourself (well, a flickery, barely recognizable digital version of yourself, anyway) on screen, flipping all around, throwing power punches and roundhouse kicks,  and beating ass, but eventually, it grows dull. And then you try to hone in on accurately throwing punches or dodging attacks, and the game goes from silly diversion to pain-in-the-ass. The 2D side-view is confusing when you have to watch the screen, and trying to accurately move to a specific place onscreen is nearly impossible.

Kung Fu Live

A Game-Length Ad For Kinect

I was unable to understand how to get my dude to perform specific attacks, and I seemed to leap into the air and deliver blows at random. It's possible to beat up the first few dudes this way, but then the harder enemies start appearing, with huge health bars, and a terrible tendency to block, and you find yourself just spamming the one or two moves that you've managed to figure out again and again, and then a sense of resentment grows, and you're tired and out of breath, and some damn, cheating jerk manages to get your health down, and then you decide to turn the stupid thing off and have a banana or something.

The game has a face-to-face fighting mechanic that's kind of fun, though. You won't be facing off with your pal on your EyeToy, though. Instead, players 2, 3 and 4 each get controllers with which to pit a computer fighter against their friend's image on the screen. It's kind of fun, but nothing to tell your mom about or anything.

Kung Fu Live

The entire experience of playing Kung Fu Live filled my heart with longing for a Kinect version. It's like an ad for Microsoft's control-system. I couldn't help but imagine the possibilities inherent in this game. If the on-screen avatar wasn't so terrible. If the controls worked better. If there was a little more variety in the action. If there was less frustration and more wackiness. It would be a good little game. But that's a ton of "ifs," so, save your money and wait for the (hoped for!) Kinect version.