(3DS eShop)

Johnny Kung Fu (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Johnny Kung Fu Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Like a punch to the Wang

We're on to you, UFO Interactive. You've released these side-scrolling action games every few months now and, we'll admit, each one has had a fairly interesting premise — a samurai slicer with RPG elements and a zombie-flavored rhythm game? We can dig it. Now you roll out what seems like an ode to LCD handheld games wrapped in a kung fu theme, and we really want to get behind it this time.

But we can't. We just can't.

Johnny Kung Fu's premise is the best thing going here: An evil organised crime group (as opposed to a benevolent organised crime group, like... the X-Men?) known as Mr Wang, led by the nefarious and possibly brain dead Mr Wang, targets Johnny's girlfriend — for video game reasons we presume — and it's up to Johnny to climb the tall Wang building and punch thugs along the way.

Remember, the premise is the best thing going here.

Johnny has an hour on the clock to reach the top of the tower and rescue his lady. Progressing upstairs involves cycling through a handful of scenarios until you reach the next floor in what feels like an earnest attempt at forcing a narrative around a collection of minigames. Losing a stage knocks five minutes from the countdown, and the remaining time at the end of it all acts as a high score. Some stages have you punching Wangs left, right and center, while others replicate the crude but charming look and style of old LCD handheld games, which can be unlocked for high score play as well.

These LCD-style games seem to be the keystone to Johnny Kung Fu, and while they capture a certain specific nostalgia with well-executed presentation they aren't elegant or strong enough on their own to keep that retro flame burning for very long. Nor are they particularly original — one of them is a straight-up copy of Game & Watch: Ball but with bomb sprites, another a lesser version of a Donkey Kong Jr.-style obstacle course. These games may look the part but their behaviour is cheap and rote while lacking the charm that made Nintendo's simplistic Game and Watch line work so well, pitting them more in the realm of the inexplicably popular workmanlike Tiger handhelds of yore.

The rest of the stages are made up of Wang rumbles and boss battles confined to one room. UFO tries to open up the brawler space by allowing characters to jump between planes forward and back, but the combat hasn't evolved much from their first eShop outing Samurai Sword Destiny — in fact, we dare say it's devolved some. Johnny could stand to do some warm-up exercises before going into battle because combat is very stiff and rigid, almost forgetting that what makes group fights fun in the first place is being able to swiftly change direction to counter attacks from all sides. Here, though, enemies are content to just run at you in one big bunch that can be taken out by spamming an attack button. The closest Johnny Kung Fu comes to combat tactics is trying to not get stuck in an animation before an enemy's locked animation collides with your proverbial face.

Combat diversity is criminally poor as well; while it's possible to unlock new moves over time there is no retention between games, so every time you boot it up you have to slug through the same dozen or so stages until something moderately interesting happens. There really isn't any good reason either why Johnny can't perform an uppercut from the get-go — it's not like he has to lobotomise a Robot Master to figure out how to punch in an upward trajectory — and while withholding serves its purpose of maintaining a sense of progression, ultimately it just gets in the way of the long-term game.

Conclusion

Johnny Kung Fu is about as proficient at its craft as that guy who accidentally nunchuk'd his face on the internet. Playing it is a lot like shuffling between a bunch of terrible Tiger LCD games at a rapid pace: sure, you get some gaming diversity, but at the cost of a miniature existential crisis. It's entirely possible that one day UFO Interactive will crack the code of a genuinely interesting game, but with a sense of humor about as basic as its mechanics — which is to say incredibly so — Johnny Kung Fu still has a ways to go.

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User Comments (70)

moomoo

#3

moomoo said:

This is why I can't find myself excited for anything made by UFO.

WolfRamHeart

#6

WolfRamHeart said:

I was actually hoping that this one would turn out better than it did. It looked like it had a lot of potential. Glad that I waited. Thanks for the review Jon!

Rococoman

#8

Rococoman said:

Sigh... Nintendo refuses to help out and get games like Super Meat Boy, La Mulana, or other potentially great bite-sized games on it systems, yet companies like UFO get to churn out turd after turd. This game is a beautiful example of what is wrong with closed consoles being the main delivery mechanism for games (of course, we have games like Mario 3D Land showing why closed consoles work, but I digress...).

I like my 3DS, but I am really hoping for Ouya (google it) to make a big enough splash that Nintendo pays attention.

StephenYap3

#9

StephenYap3 said:

Thank you, Wahlgren for saving my money from buying this. I was about to buy it at first, but now I'm glad I'll have no intention to.

TheDreamingHawk

#14

TheDreamingHawk said:

Still getting it for the Game and watch references alone. Other sites still think it is decent if you don't mind the repetitiveness and difficulty.

komicturtle

#15

komicturtle said:

This looked really promising. But seems like UFO is slowly getting things to be.. decent. They just need work on the quality side and make sure their games are actually.. well, good.

RR529

#17

RR529 said:

This is the third review I've seen in the "4/10" range, so I won't be getting this.

NL: 4/10
Canadian Online Gamers: 4/10
NWR: 4.5/10

Unca_LzStaff

#19

Unca_Lz said:

@Rococoman Oh yes, because Nintendo controls the gameplay quality of what other publishers put on their services. Sure, we'll go with that.

Firejonie

#21

Firejonie said:

Kind of predictable. Unless they get their act together, UFO needs to stop making games. They even make retail games, you know that Chuck E Cheese DSiWare game they made? They make other ones, even worse at retail.

Barbiegurl777

#22

Barbiegurl777 said:

I don't care what the score say's I bought it & love it! In my book it's 10/10 star rating!

Wow! You guy's are unbelieveable your basing this soley on one review alone plus if you want the game then get it!

I've been waiting since feb to download this game & very glad I did.

I've also bought & played other games by UFO:

Chuck E. Cheese Super Collection - Wii
Chuck E. Cheese Arcade Room - DSiware
Chuck E. Cheese Party Games - DS
ZombieSlayerDiox - 3dsware
Johnny Kung Fu - 3dsware

& I don't regret buying there games because you know what there are some fan's of the games that they put out.

So before you go bashing them actually try the game out first. Or even see what other games they've came out with & try those if you don't want to play one specific title.

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

Rococoman

#23

Rococoman said:

@LztheBlehBird Nintendo historically has a hellish approval process which a game must pass through before it can be released. NintendoLife covered the drama in getting Cave Story to WiiWare, and Nintendo's approval process has received blame for La Mulana getting the can.

True, Nintendo doesn't directly control what developers and publishers make. However, they definitely decide what games get published and what games don't. In this sense, Nintendo is responsible for creating a system where cash-flushed publishers like UFO can pinch off lousy game after lousy game, while smaller devs never get a chance and flee to IOS and Android. Yes, IOS has tons of bad games, but it also has tons of games that would be great on Nintendo's systems - check out Soozis, Hook Champ, Sonic 4, League of Evil, and tons more.

I really don't get why Nintendo doesn't chase down these smaller devs, kind of how Fox Studios uses Fox Searchlight as a way to find small, worthwhile filmmakers.

woooo... Anyways, I won't be getting this game :)

MeWario

#24

MeWario said:

@ymmas626 You nearly convinced me to give this a go until you added that you have purchased their other games (aka Chunk E. Cheese Party Games) and enjoyed them.

Csaw

#25

Csaw said:

Nintendo just take the dev kits away from these guys they're doing more harm then good. As far as I know UFO hasn't ever released a good game.

Ernest_The_Crab

#26

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Rococoman Actually the reason Lu Mulana was canned was due to miscommunication between its developer and its publisher (which was not Nintendo).

It's not to say the WII approval process wasn't hellish, but it's better to use a proper example rather than something caused by mostly another event.

Odnetnin

#27

Odnetnin said:

The presentation really is awesome in every way...too bad amazing style doesn't make up for a complete and utter lack of substance.

JonWahlgrenAdmin

#31

JonWahlgren said:

Yeah, it's a little frustrating how hollow it feels because the presentation and general idea is pretty neat. Going in it seemed like a kung fu WarioWare-meets-G&W-kinda thing but sadly lacks the magic of either.

Odnetnin

#32

Odnetnin said:

@JonWahlgren Did you think it still had potential until like five floors in when you realized there were only two real types of gameplay, and both of them would soon become terribly boring? Me too.

JonWahlgrenAdmin

#33

JonWahlgren said:

@TinyOddy It pretty quickly wore out its welcome once the stages "cycled through" once, i.e. after the first boss fight where I realized that I had essentially seen everything the game had to offer. It varies as you go but not nearly enough to remain interesting or fun for very long.

Odnetnin

#34

Odnetnin said:

Indeed, that sums up my feelings perfectly. If only this was a WarioWare title and each Game & Watch rip-off was just one microgame. I wouldn't mind if they scrapped the beat-'em-up gameplay altogether.

To add insult to injury, or rather torture to tedium, they just ratchet up the difficulty until it becomes not only boring but impossibly cruel. Fun times. :P

Also, I think this pun from my review is worth repeating: "Releasing this unfinished game and charging $6 for it are Unethical Financial Operations, indeed."

grumblegrumble

#37

grumblegrumble said:

I got this game and love it. I think the review is a bit harsh, but that's just my opinion. I urge everyone to read other reviews, watch the game video on the e-shop and make up your own minds.

VincentV

#40

VincentV said:

@Rococoman La Mulana was cancelled due to Nicalis cancelling it, not Nintendo, and Super Meat Boy didn't come due to file size limits. Anyways, the 3DS doesn't have size limits, thank goodness, and Wii U probably won't either. Looks like Nintendo learned their lesson. Also, while Nintendo curating the eShop does hurt chances of indie games getting in, it beats some things getting in (like that fake dysfunctional Pokemon game on the App Store). The Ouya can be rooted by its owners without voiding the warranty, which is good for those who like modding their games/systems as a hobby. There's no licensing fees for devs either. So yeah, that's one way to do game consoles, and it definitely has its benefits, but Nintendo does things the way they want to. What's sad is UFO Interactive gets to be lucky and make all these games, yet some devs encounter issues bringing their amazing games over. That sucks.

Gamer83

#41

Gamer83 said:

Yup, 4/10 is right, very disappointed I spent $5.99 on this game, but it's a lesson learned for the future.

Zaphod_Beeblebrox

#43

Zaphod_Beeblebrox said:

Thanks for making my day, Nintendo Life. I laughed so hard at the subtitle of this review. Heck, I just started laughing again.

3DSLUIGI

#44

3DSLUIGI said:

OK, so mostly everyone here hated this game. And NOTE: I said MOSTLY everyone. NOT every single person who commented. As for me, which I know I'm gonna catch EXTREME flaming for this when I say it. But I found this game a bit amusing. Not for the intense beat em' ups which after awhile get boring imo. But for coming up with an idea to do a modern day old school retro feel to some stages making you feel like you're playing an old Game & Watch game from the old days. I like the way of how the Johnny versions of Ball and Judgment worked out. The one where you jumped over the bombs working your way up to get to the elevator door I could have lived without. I will admit, the stages do get boring when they start to cycle, but when you can you expect from some game companies nowadays. BOTTOM LINE for me. I give it a 6.5

Mechadestroyah

#45

Mechadestroyah said:

I think the simplicity of the games fighting style is due to, what I think is a game that is supposed to be reminiscent of Kung Fu on the original NES.

FonistofCruxis

#50

FonistofCruxis said:

I was hoping this would be UFO's first good game as the presentation does look awesome so despite how likely it was that this would be bad because of its developers, I still felt disappointed even though I should have expected this.

TTGlider

#51

TTGlider said:

The game has a great look and idea. I'd like to try it for myself still. I've bought a couple UFO retail Wii games (Domino Rally, Geon Cube, and Ultimate Shooting Collection) that I thought were OK.

Barbiegurl777

#52

Barbiegurl777 said:

@MeWario,

1. Like as if I have any control of what game's UFO decide's to pull out of there rabbit's hat for when they release games uh no.

2. So what?!? I'm 24 & play chuck e cheese games & no I could really care less if it's up to my age level or not. I went to chuck e cheese when I was little for a ton of b-day's & everything else so no I have no problem playing the game's as an adult personally between chuck e cheese arcade room - dsiware & chuck e cheese super collection - wii there 2 of my favorite games espicially the one on the wii.:D

Heck I have Chuck E. Cheese Arcade Room - dsiware on my 3ds so what?

Play what you like & who cares what's popular in video games I know I don't care & haven't cared in year's.

I play all sort of video games popular or not. Good example one day I'm playing mario on the 3ds (I have all 4 mario 3ds games) anyway's i could be playing mario one day & babysitting mama on the wii the next day. I don't care.

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

theblackdragonAdmin

#53

theblackdragon said:

@ymmas626: it's not your age level that came into question, it's your personal taste in games. it's fine, everyone likes different things, but the best way to see if someone praising a particular game fits your personal style is to check to see what other games they liked as well as the one in question — since you stated you liked the Chuck E. Cheese games as well, apparently you and MeWario don't quite mesh gamewise. therefore, he can't quite sell himself on your recommendation of this game. It's no big deal, and it's nothing worth flipping out over, so let's take a deep breath and chill, shall we? :3

CommanderAudio

#54

CommanderAudio said:

Really wanted this to be a good review, for the sake of UFO Interactive, but alas, it twas not to be. So sorry for them

MeWario

#56

MeWario said:

@ymmas626 All I was getting at was that I really wanted this game to be good and you nearly convinced me to get it. (I'm a great believer in trying games that get poor scores because they quite often surprise you, for example, Bird Mania got average to poor reviews when it came out and yet I really enjoyed it) But then you mentioned your love of other games that I have tried (and found to be really bad) and that ruined the point you were trying to make in recommending the game.
My comment did sound rude though and I apologize, I was trying to be funny =P

MeloMan

#57

MeloMan said:

Wow, talk about lipstick on a pig. Their trailer was the best part of game. Ouch.

Firejonie

#58

Firejonie said:

@ymmas626 Wait a second, not related to the review but. You said you have all four Mario 3DS games. I know 3D Land, MK7 and Tennis Open are three of them. But is the fourth one NSMB2? It's just that you have pre ordered it?

Barbiegurl777

#59

Barbiegurl777 said:

@Firejonie,

My Mario 3DS games in order of which they were first released:

Super Mario 3D Land - Nov - 2011
Mario Kart 7 - Dec - 2011
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic's Games - Feb - 2012
Mario Open Tennis - May - 2012

The new mario game in the e-shop New Super Mario 2 will be my fifth mario 3ds game that I'll be downloading in the e-shop.

My Mario Collection:

Untitled

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

SeVok

#61

SeVok said:

At the end reviews are just an opinion, look to the screenshots and video's in eShop and make up your own mind. Going by only the opinion of another will lead to missing out a lot in life.

ToxieDogg

#62

ToxieDogg said:

@ymmas626

Do you actually work for UFO or have they just paid you to big up this game and deliberately namedrop a few of their others while you're here? :D ;)

Just joking...I do intend to give this a try anyway, average review or not....it appeals to me in a strange unexplained way. :P

ehtasham

#63

ehtasham said:

This game is Fantastico.Great graphics and and graphics from Game&Watch.If I knew how to rate it i would rate it 9 and a half!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ToxieDogg

#66

ToxieDogg said:

Having now downloaded and played this for well over an hour (so far), I think that review is overly harsh. Johnny Kung Fu is a massively fun and playable game with tight, responsive controls, fast action, a LOT of retro charm and a decent tough challenge. Also has a few original ideas too. Only bad thing I have to say about it is that sometimes later screens get a little hectic when they fill up with bad guys and you get swarmed, but there's plenty more to like than dislike here.

For the mid-level price point it's at too, I'd say it's easily worth a 7 if not an 8 (though probably not a 9 and definitely not a 10) 4's just bashing it for no good reason.

Dark-Luigi

#67

Dark-Luigi said:

Dang. I just bought this game a few weeks ago. When I first played it like it. But when I died in the first few levels and relized I COULD'T continue. I didn't touch it after that.:(

NintendoCat14

#68

NintendoCat14 said:

Thank you so much, Jon! You saved me from buying this. I was so close...

Nintendo Power was obviously payed to review this one. They said it was at least an 8/10... how could they say such a thing? D=

NintendoCat14

#69

NintendoCat14 said:

@Barbiegurl777 Please don't get upset with me, but seriously... do you work for UFO? Nobody here would be mad at you if you told us. I just don't see why you had to list the games, instead of just saying "I've also bought & played other games by UFO & I don't regret buying there games because you know what there are some fan's of the games that they put out."

Also, I wouldn't be defending any UFO game unless I worked there. Just saying, so don't get upset. ;)

2Sang

#70

2Sang said:

I'd give this game a 7/10, although the 2 sequels deserve their ratings that you gave them

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