Jeremy Jastrzab
16 Sep, 2010

Kung Fu Rider Review

PS3 Review | Hopefully it gets better than this.
The second wave in the motion controller war, PlayStation Move, gets released this week. And in a seemingly desperate rush to get unique games out the door for the PlayStation Move, games like Kung Fu Rider are conceived. Despite coming from the development studio behind Ape Escape, Loco Roco and Patapon, this pedigree can’t save Kung Fu Rider from sitting with the likes of most early Wii titles. If Sony wanted a title to prove the merits of PlayStation Move, they are certainly going to have to do better than Kung Fu Rider.

With a simple premise and a budget price, there really isn’t too much to expect from Kung Fu Rider. However, functionality would have been much appreciated. Before that though, it was a bit of a struggle to actually figure out what on earth the game was about. Apparently, you play as either (apparent) amateur detective Tobin or his secretary Karin, who are trying to escape the triads in the streets of Hong Kong. By escaping down hilly districts on anything that’s small, has wheels and looks totally ridiculous.

Is the public transport THAT bad?

Is the public transport THAT bad?
The game can only be played with the new PlayStation Move controller. As with any self-respecting early Wii title, the main idea with Kung Fu Rider is to show off ways to utilise these new fangled motion controls. And the game has a simple and wacky enough premise to allow it. Across six or so courses, your objective is to get to the bottom of the course as quickly as possible, while collecting money for points, avoiding obstacles such as cars, traffic cones and guys carrying ladders, all while fighting off the mafia/triads that are after you.

In a way, the game is a bit like an arcade snowboarding game, mixed with dashings of the PSN hit title, Pain. And instead of snowboards, you’re using everyday objects such as office chairs, stools, baby seats, eskies and shopping trolleys. As you do. The scoring system is neat, where you’re encouraged to take hard routes on each course, which will yield higher cash sums. Each of the courses is divided into different routes, with the really obscure ones being more rewarding, such as quicker back alleys and safer aerial grinding rails. There aren’t any real tricks to perform, though going through boost gates and defeating/avoiding enemy attacks will increase your combo meter, which in turn will allow you to earn more ‘ bang for your buck’ from money collected.

Kung Fu Rider isn’t too graphically demanding. However, it makes up for this with style and speed. With a style that’s akin to the aforementioned Pain. It’s got some nice caricatured models, humorous ragdoll physics and animations, plenty of colour and a quaint locale that fits the wacky setting. Best of all, it all runs virtually without a hitch. There isn’t much in the variety of sound. There are a few throw away humorous lines, some upbeat self-realising tunes and suitably fun sound effects. A minor battle ground between Move and Kinect seems to be the ability to take pictures as you play, and you’ll get some interesting (though low quality) reactions from playing Kung Fu Rider.

Don't look now! Nintendo fanboys want their motion-controlled cash-ins back!

Don't look now! Nintendo fanboys want their motion-controlled cash-ins back!
The premise of the game itself is not the problem. In fact, it’s got a zany and quirky nature that fits the casual bill really well. What you can do in the game sounds like it could be good for some light-hearted play. However, the first sign of the problems are the excessive loading screens, even though there isn’t really that much in the game itself. Despite there being six or so different courses, they’re barely distinguishable from one another. And the different routes for each aren’t really that different either. Upon the first time that Tobin found his escape vehicle, we cracked up at his line “Ahaaahh! Come here my son… Giddy up!”. Unfortunately, you soon realise that it’s his only line. And Karin only has one too.

So maybe you can tell by now, there really isn’t that much in the game. It’s a one trick pony. It’s somewhat surprising given the abilities you have. You can jump, boost, sidestep, grind, slide, lean back, attack enemies and use ‘advanced’ kung fu moves. However, you’ll find that you really won’t use much of these, which simply gives the game a false sense of depth. It's not as if you can pull off tricks or anything. But in any case, it just means that the game is ankle deep, rather than shin deep. This is even with the addition of ‘jump-in’ races, record keeping and leaderboards. Given the budget price and ‘launch’ status, this is forgivable. However, the fact that it’s essentially a first generation PlayStation title that plays as poorly as a first run Wii title; this is less forgivable.

Plain and simply, Kung Fu Rider does not work. The motion controls do not work. No matter how many times you calibrate and change your settings, the same problems remain. Probably the worst part is the inability of the game to distinguish between a push and a jump. Sometimes you’ll jump when you want to push instead and vice-versa, while sometimes nothing will register. It's an endless struggle to do what you want to do. Oops. The control overall is just too flimsy and unreliable for what the game demands, and may have had a better chance of working with a more suitable design. Despite the passing of nearly four years, it’s as bad as and potentially worse than a number of early Wii titles, even though it’s running on supposedly superior technology.

Ah, exactly what we wanted to do after playing this.

Ah, exactly what we wanted to do after playing this.
Not even the processing power of the PS3 can save the game. While dealing with inconsistently registering controller inputs, you have to deal with poor physics as well. Couple these two issues together, and you’ve got a very frustrating time ahead. There doesn’t seem to be much chance to acquire skill and become consistently good at the game. You have six ‘lives’ on each course, and in the space of two minutes, you’ll often lose these before you can blink. And it’s either because the physics have dropped you way off course, have downed you having nicked the side of a traffic cone or that the controls haven’t registered. Given the lengthy Pain-inspired crash animations, any flow or momentum through playing is completely destroyed. On the plus side, this means that it will take you about a third of the time longer to complete all the game’s courses…which is exactly what you wanted to do, right?

It’s reasonable to say that these early run budget titles are here to display the potential benefits of PlayStation Move, rather than truly revolutionise a whole new way of playing games. Unfortunately, rather than displaying the benefits of PlayStation Move, Kung Fu Rideris one of the worst possible examples of using this technology. It displays most of the things that were wrong with first-run Wii titles and alienates both the casual and core audiences; the former through lack of accessibility and the latter though lack of substance, and both from the fact that it doesn’t work. This really shouldn’t have been more than a PSN download, but even in its current form, it would have been hard to accept. If you do choose to play it, the pictures captured by the EyeToy will say it all.
The Score
While PlayStation Move undoubtedly has a lot of potential, Kung Fu Rider is one of the worst possible titles to show any of it. 3
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
LOL! I saw this on Good Game the other night.
Looks completely retarded.
3 years ago
I saw a video demo of this game, looks hilarious but not much of a game. Reminds me a little of PAIN in that way.

I also couldn't get over how they sound (English accents?), especially the very Japanese looking woman.
3 years ago
A concept that could have been interesting and created some guilty-pleasure fun if functioned properly.
3 years ago
I'm all for quirky Japanese titles but I think I'll give this one a miss.. :-p
3 years ago


grabbed the demo last night. will try later.
3 years ago
Yup.. This one has "pretty" tech-demo written all over it.. I think even young children would be bored of this. I think the only good thing about this title is conversation the characters have at the "Main Menu"...
3 years ago
played the demo. Hokey and cheap looking. Couldn't figure out how to jump properly but then I skipped the turorial levels. Its innane and kind of dumb and kind of funny in a "so glad I didn't pay for this". Seems like it should be part of a mini game collection instead of a full game

the PSeye taking photos of me iis kinda hilarious. Didn't expect that.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  16/09/2010 (Confirmed)
Year Made:

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