Kung Fu
Box Shot
Kung Fu
Platform: NES
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Irem
Genre: Beat-em-up
Players: 2 (Alternating)
Published Date 1986
Reviewed by: Adam King

Can I really give a fair review of Kung Fu? This is one of the first games released for the NES, next to Super Mario Bros and Baseball, so it cannot match up to today's titles, not only in graphics and sound, but also in gameplay.

Think of this game just like those old kung-fu movies from way back when. We have the damsel in distress (Sylvia), the hero out to rescue her (Thomas), and the big ganglord with an unlimited army of employed thugs (Mr. X). That's basically the plot right there.

Throughout the game, you walk right to left along one of the five floors of the mansion, beating the tar out of anyone that gets in your way. Opponents include knife throwers and Tom Toms (midget acrobats), all the way up to the big guys, which are the Stick Fighter, The Bommerang Thrower, The Giant, The Magician, and Mr. X himself.

The B button kicks and A will punch. Kicking is more effective as far as range, but punching yields double the points. The game goes back to the glory days when pressing Up jumps, and from there you can jump kick. Most enemies don't even really punch or kick, they just sort of grapple onto you and do damage, while you try to shake them off. The object, of course, is to hit them before they hit you. Occasionally you'll break out of the monotony by jumping over knives or attacking bosses, but the same basic theme is prevalent.

The graphics are really plain. While the characters have decent animation, you get the same background over and over. The same boring blue backdrop, the same ceiling, everything's just too repetetive. Plus, you pretty much fight the exact duplicate group of guys throughout the game, the most common being the purple clad foot soliders and the knife-throwing warriors. The only exceptions are on level 2, where balls fall down and become snakes and dragons, and level 4, where moths fly in through the holes. The sounds are slightly better. The same music plays through the game, but the grunts that Thomas makes when he punches and kicks are cute, as is the laugh that comes in sometimes. (Note that one of the grunting noises is also used in Zelda 2 and Castlevania.)

The biggest problem with the game is that it gets old fast. If you somehow beat Mr. X, you get this bad ending that says, "Thomas and Sylvia are reunited, but it doesn't last long" (or something to that effect). Then, you get to go through it again, this time its tougher. Just great.

I know it's an old game, but still, it doesn't hold your interest that long. For one playthrough, it's kinda fun to beat up on some people. Whacking bad guys to corny grunts and screams while they fall off the bottom of the level can be amusing for short time, but beyond that, you might be looking for other ways to get your kicks.