After playing Kung Fu Chaos extensively, it’s not so much a game as it is a parody. The source material draws from cheesy B-grade kung fu movies of the 1970s, back when kung fu moves were something to be laughed at. Kung Fu Chaos actually reminds me of Kung Pow, a movie parody of the kung fu genre that included things like bad lip synchs and other puns on ethnic or stereotype topics. For those who enjoyed those jokes, you’ll most likely enjoy Kung Fu Chaos.
Kung Fu Chaos is classified as a party game but it also features a hefty single player component. The main campaign is called the ninja’s challenge. It’s composed of short objective-driven minigames and a mixture of all out battles. There are performance goals you must achieve to unlock things. The rest of the game modes are variations of these two elements in the ninja challenge. Most of the modes have something to do with movies. Rehearsal is a fancy term for training mode.
The minigames themselves are quite humorous. One, for example, has you running around with a trampoline trying to rescue falling stunt ninjas of the generic variety. Another involves saving drowning ninjas. They don’t make much sense. Their simplicity really belongs to a handheld game but they’re actually quite fun even on the big screen.
Battles themselves can incorporate human players and you have the choice of playing against each other competitively or with each other co-operatively. There are plenty of “realistic” B-movie sets as well as some exotic ones thrown into the mix. Most of the environments are interactive. Jumping from cliff to cliff will initiate the animation for wires to hoist your character up – just like the real movies. On a side note, this is exactly what films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon use, except their wires are less visible.
Unfortunately, the sets themselves aren’t dynamic. You’ll see the same tricks used each time, which is a pity. There aren’t any downloadable sets either from the Xbox Live service. It would have been nice if more animations, sets or characters were released as add-ons ex post facto of the game’s release.
The audio commentary is a love or hate thing. As an Asian myself, I thought it was actually well done. There’s a director’s commentary in each of the sets that is hilarious and the lines for the characters while not off the wall funny will give a few smiles at least. This is one of those games where you’re prepared for the worst in terms of speech but that preparation actually makes the game more enjoyable.
Throwing humans into the fray is also a hit or miss. They have to like the humor too or the gameplay on its own won’t hold the ground. But at least if you’re able to appreciate the humor, it’s more entertaining than other prosaic party titles that have come out for the Xbox. I still remember Fuzion Frenzy. The controls for this title aren’t terribly complex. You have your usual punches and kicks. Each character is more or less the same. They all have one special move that can be executed when they charge themselves up using taunts. Opposing characters can issue anti-taunts to reduce that.
Most of the combat rests on timing. Some of the ninjas are impervious to all but a few types of attacks. So during the game, you’ll have to learn which attacks to launch and when to launch them at the enemy.
The characters you pick aren’t intended to be realistic by any means.
There is even the presence of a black woman and a hispanic strongman in the game. What they have to do with Kung Fu movies is a bit beyond me.
But then I guess Bruce Lee had to go up against Kareem Abdul Jabbar anyway so it fits the story. Think less B-rated kung fu movies and think more all the B-rated characters from the 1970s as a whole (Shaft and, whatever the Mexicans were doing a decade before I was born).
What a change the world has come to, though, when kung fu moves, united with the effects of computer wizardry, are now considered artistic.
Just look at films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix – all choreographed in the same manner but instead of being fast food at the movie theaters, it’s now considered French cuisine. Vis-à-vis gaming, Kung Fu Chaos is more fast food. If you’re offended or annoyed by Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting song, stay away. For others with a more open mind, this is worth a look, even if it’s a rental.