If there's one thing we can say about Kung Fu Dragon, it's that there's really not much to say about Kung Fu Dragon. It's a game that's content to limit itself in nearly every respect, and that's going to earn it its share of detractors, but it's also a game that makes surprisingly effective use of its simplicity. There will be some who are cut out to love it, and others who find nothing to love at all. But whichever side of the debate you happen to subscribe to, the fact remains that you simply won't have much to say.
The entire game takes place on a single stage, which features a waterfall with various objects floating downward. Your objective is to climb as high as you can before you get pecked to death by some passing ducks, because that's how martial artists train, according to the manual. As we at Nintendo Life are game reviewers — commonly known as the furthest thing from martial artists it's possible to get — we'll have to take their word for it.
There are only two things you can do in the game: move, and jump. The game gives you no additional attacks or abilities, and it forces you to learn your jumping really well. A simple misjudged leap can cause you to fall off the bottom of the screen and die, making your jumps far more important than the measly life meter you're provided.
And... that's it. You jump as high up the waterfall as you can, and eventually you die. That would make this a score attack game under normal circumstances, but it's also something of a height attack. The game records your best score and your highest climb (separately), so you can choose to focus on either as your goal.
If you're not interested in focusing on either, Kung Fu Dragon is not for you. If you enjoy simple gameplay, tight controls and distilled continuous challenge, though, it's probably worth a look.
Additional characters are unlockable, adding a little to the gameplay, but not very much. They each have different stats in terms of jumping, speed and health, but the experience of one doesn't significantly differ from the experience of playing with any other. There are also bosses to face (or evade... the choice is yours) during your climb, but the central mechanic of leaping up the waterfall is only slightly interrupted by their appearance.
Beyond that, there's nothing to say. The visuals are crisp and clear, the controls are extremely responsive, and the overall experience is addictive, making it a perfect game for a few stray minutes of play.
Jumping up a waterfall may or may not make you a better martial artist, but it certainly makes for some good fun.
Kung Fu Dragon is only interested in doing one thing, but fortunately it does it very well. A simple but effective visual presentation and some of the most responsive controls on the service work in favour of a game that's more fun than it has any right to be. For those interested in a fast, simple and inexpensive time-waster, Kung Fu Dragon is up there with Bird and Beans. For those in search of something longer and more complex, go jump up a waterfall.