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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Just Add Monsters

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Great multiplayer gaming
- Innovative taunting-powered Super Attacks
- Tons of fighting and defensive moves

 

 

- Enemies follow predictable, patterned attacks on some levels
- Needed more variety of levels
- Shao Ting’s puns
- No Xbox Live support

 

 

Review: Mario Party 4 (GC)

Review: Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus (XB)

Review: Dead or Alive 3 (XB)

 

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Kung Fu Chaos

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

kunf fu chaos xbox review         kunf fu chaos xbox review

 

No offense to the Karate Kid, but fitting Kung Fu Chaos into a particular gaming genre is harder than trying to catch a fly with chopsticks. At its heart, it’s a fighting game. But Kung Fu Chaos could also be described as a party game chock full of mini-games, a la Nintendo’s Mario Party. Throw in some 70’s music, a ton of bad puns, chop-socky humor, cartoony, bobble-headed characters and what you have is Kung Fu Chaos, which may be best described as a solid fighter that likes to party hearty.

This game is chaotic Kung Fu brawling at its finest. The premise of the game is that you are working on the newest low-budget movie of Golden Marvelous Productions under the creative control of loudmouth Hong Kong fighting flick director Shao Ting, who like his name, reels off one bad pun after another in the game’s cut-scenes

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that introduce each level. Kung Fu Chaos tries to be funny, it really does. But there are just too many unfunny wisecracks from Shao Ting (Shao Ting = shouting, get it? Yeah, I know not funny) to consider Kung Fu Chaos a humorous game.

Kung Fu Chaos’ “levels” are really mini-games that are based on famous movies but with a low-budget take only

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Shao Ting could imagine with plenty of kung fu fighting actors. There’s the “Gigantic” levels: Shao Ting’s interpretation of Titanic and another based on Jurassic Park; War of the Worlds-inspired alien activity, and naturally plenty of martial arts fighting. A lot of levels to be sure, but it could have been better if there were more individually-designed levels based on other movie themes or clichés instead of having a couple of levels for each included movie theme as ripped off by Shao Ting.

Your job as one of the “actors” is to get at least a three-to-five-star rating for each scene shot for the movie. If you do get that “pass” rating (i.e. three stars) or higher, you’ll open up more levels to play in the miniseries mode, the ninja challenge, battle, and championship modes. To get a good star rating on each level, mostly it comes down to defeating a large number of progressively harder-to-defeat enemies. The higher the rating, the more you’ll unlock. And that will allow you to take full advantage of the sensational multiplayer gaming of Kung Fu Chaos.

The real charm of Kung Fu Chaos is its multiplayer. Up to four players can partake in Kung Fu Chaos battling at one time. If you do get four-player games going, Kung Fu Chaos becomes almost the best multiplayer fighting game (right behind Dead or Alive 3) you’ll see on the Xbox right now.

While you will be doing a lot of fighting, there’s more than that to do in Kung Fu Chaos. This is where the Mario Party influence comes in. On some levels, there are party game activities like trying to knock opponents off of teetering bamboo platforms by throwing an incapacitated princess at each other. On one of the “Gigantic” levels, the goal is to knock your other life preserver-wearing opponents off of a precariously slippery small floating iceberg. Kung Fu Chaos is the fighter that’s the life of the party.
 

kunf fu chaos xbox review          kunf fu chaos xbox review

 

Actors you can select from all have punned names similar to Shao Ting's, but fortunately, there’s no serious attempt at cramming the same bad humor of Shao Ting into their persona. Thankfully, there’s a diverse selection of actor-slash-fighters to choose from, including the feminine variety. You can pick from the roller skate-and-yoyo wielding Candi Roll, the father-son tandem Chop and Styx, Pam Grier-inspired Lucy Cannon and Ninja, Fu Hiya among others.

Straying from the more realistic look of the fighting rosters of games like Dead or Alive 3, Kakuto Chojin, and Tao Feng, this Xbox-exclusive fighting cast is bobble-headed and cartoony in appearance. It sort of takes the same graphical approach that Nintendo’s new Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker takes where the cartoon appearance of Link somehow perfectly fits the gameplay. This cartoonish rendering style fits well with the tongue-in-cheek attitude Kung Fu Chaos tries to capture too. Overall, the game is highlighted by some stellar visuals, particularly when there are bodies of water involved in the action. However, don’t let the cartoonish graphics fool you. If you think that the cartoony graphics translate into a kiddie game, you’re wrong. There’s a good fighting game under the hood, sans the heavy bloodshed that occurs in today’s usual fighting game.

Controls and available moves in Kung Fu Chaos are impressive. There are a multitude of offensive attacks, counterattack moves, and defensive protection moves. And controls are extremely responsive, a necessity for a fighting game. The best inclusion in the game’s move list are the character-specific taunting Super Attacks. After dropping an opponent, by successfully unleashing an expletive-laced (in the form of some oversized cartoon expletives: #%&!) verbal taunt, you get a taunt point. Garner three taunt points, and you can then use the character’s taunt Super Attack, which comes in handy against formidable enemies. You can also steal taunt points, too, which makes it necessary to strategize your gameplay.

Challenging gameplay is part of the Kung Fu Chaos multiplayer experience. But if you are squaring off in the single-player miniseries mode, then the challenge can drop off sometimes dramatically because there are levels where the same enemies come out at the same exact spot each time. This repetitive re-spawning makes it easy to master a level without much of a fight, bringing a boredom to Kung Fu Chaos that wouldn’t be there if there was more randomization.

Head-scratchingly puzzling is why Kung Fu Chaos can’t be played over Xbox Live. If ever a game seemed perfectly suited for online Xbox Live gaming, Kung Fu Chaos is it. But that aside, despite not being a entirely satisfying single-player title, multiplayer gaming done on a non-split-screen arena overtakes any of the shortcomings of Kung Fu Chaos and thrusts it with sidekick ferocity into the same neighborhood of Dead or Alive 3 as far as Xbox fighting games go.

No doubt about it, after the disastrously awful Kakuto Chojin, and the uneven Tao Feng, Kung Fu Chaos finally brings the Xbox a good quality fighting game from a Microsoft first-party development house. A surprisingly solid collection of various offensive and defensive moves, good visuals, and plain all-out fun multiplayer gaming more than makes up for the few small shortcomings of Kung Fu Chaos. Not entirely a fighter, not exactly a party game, Kung Fu Chaos contains a good mix of both gaming genres to deliver a title that should be considered purchase-worthy.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(April 26, 2003)

 

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