STAFF REVIEW of Kung Fu Panda (Xbox 360)

Saturday, June 14, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

Kung Fu Panda Box art Jack Black has become an icon in the minds of kids young and old with his recent host appearances on Nickelodeon Kid?s Choice awards. Well Jack is back as the wannabe Po the panda in ?Kung Fu Panda?. As a father, the game is perfect for my 7 year old daughter, but just as fun for my 11 year. Heck its just as fun for me, but no comment on my age. Panda is a great modern day action platformer that has lots of stuff to collect, smash and throw. This is one of those quality fun games to sit down and play with your kids, since it does have local multiplayer. You?ll unlock even more multiplayer options as you progress through the single player levels.

The story is basically about this panda bear named Po whose dream is to be a kung fu master. He happens to fall into a circumstance, literally, that names him as the next Dragon Master, an elite kung fu specialist. Well lets just say that our panda friends isn?t in the best shape of his life, and isn?t the most graceful thing on 2 feet, err 4?no I mean 2.

The game offers a lot of variety in attacks from strong to fast. All of which are upgradeable after each level using the coins that you collect while smashing your way through each area. The stronger your attacks the better chance you?ll have against the stronger and larger enemies later in the game. You also have special attacks, which are upgradeable as well, that you can learn as the game progresses. One of my favorite is a belly flop maneuver that has Po jump up in the air and slam into the ground sending all close enemies flying into the air. This will destroy most small enemies immediately and do significant damage to larger ones. As you progress through the levels the game teaches you new attacks and special maneuvers. Some levels are even designed to help you master your techniques.

Another special maneuver your Panda performs is called the Panda stumble. Basically, you stumble and fall into your opponents and sometimes enough to even go into a panda roll. You?ll basically be a big bowling ball of destruction rolling through the level knocking off enemies and collecting coins. At some points you?ll be forced into the panda roll as to proceed further in the level you?ll have to roll along a predetermined path. Be sure when rolling to keep your eyes open for coins and special hidden icons.

Most enemies are not difficult to defeat but will take some thinking on your part. Usually larger enemies can only be killed using strong attacks, while much smaller enemies can be destroyed using the fast attacks. The previously mentioned special attacks come in quite handy at anytime or circumstance.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of collecting to do in this game typical of any platformer. Be sure to break everything as you progress through the level to try and maximize your coin total. As I said, these coins are used to upgrade your characters abilities as well as buy some new costumes. So be sure to collect as many as you can. There are special icons located through out the levels as well. You will unlocked special content and new multiplayer modes for finding these.

Each level will also give you specific items to find such as family vases, fireworks and more. Some of these items are required to complete the level, while others just help you finish the level at 100%. If you like achievements, you?ll always want to collect everything you see in order to complete that 100% perfect level. Food items will replenish your health and shiny white globes of energy will increase your special energy. Be sure to use these items when up against tough bosses in order to stay alive.

The level design is very basic but perfect for this style of game. You?ll follow a linear path in each level with very little deviation. You?ll have to solve some puzzles in order to get to certain areas such as using a giant crossbow to pop confetti balloons blocking your path. Or maybe you?ll need to bounce on trampolines to get to a high point of the level. You?ll also have some balancing acts where you?ll have to take you tubby body across a thin rail or rooftop holding left or right to keep your balance. Always be on the lookout for hidden items though, as again this will allow you to complete the level at 100%. You miss one and you?ll have to go back and play the level again to get your 100% if that?s what you want. There are 13 levels in all for you to explore and complete. Some of those levels allow you to play as other characters from the movie as well.

The graphics and animations are spot on for this game. Very colorful backgrounds and goofy looking characters will have all kids giggling. While we?re not talking movie quality animation, it is still good and enjoyable to watch. The voice acting is right on with the actual actors in the movie taking part in the voice over. While I wasn?t ever sold on Jack Black as a panda bear prior to the movie or game, he does a good job convincing us that his character is a carefree teenage panda with one goal in mind. That goal is to become a Kung Fu Master!!!

Overall as a father on this Father?s Day weekend in the states, I would highly suggest this game to all dad?s for their kids. I myself love a good platformer, and is that game genre is up you alley then you aren?t to old to play this game. Great humor, animations and storyline add to the fun and keep the game interesting and moving along at a good pace throughout. This one is definitely a good break from the typical FPS?s and Racing games we typically see on the Xbox 360 anymore.

Online multiplayer mode could have probably been a lot of fun with this game. I would have liked to have seen a little more open level design, but overall the game was pretty good and a lot of fun to play.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.7 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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