KUNG FU PANDA Nintendo Wii Review

     December 14, 2008

Written by Jonah

The Good:

Kung Fu Panda for the Wii from developers Luxoflux and Xpec does an excellent job of capturing the look, feel, and (thanks to decent sound-alike performances) sound of this summer’s hit from Dreamworks Animation. The main character of the game is Po: a larger than life Panda who dares to dream of a life of adventure as opposed to a life cooking noodles. The game follows the same path as the film, with Po questing to become the Dragon Warrior. Through self exploration, Po eventually discovers that he has the power within himself —as we all do— to achieve his dreams. Sniffle, always makes me cry. As Po, you play through stages consisting of moments from the film as well as story elements created specifically for the game itself.

You play through the main quest itself, as well as several secondary adventures in each of the thirteen levels which allow you to play as other characters. In the game as in the film, Po’s moves center around his portly shape. Collecting coins allows for you to upgrade moves, pretty straight forward gameplay. Gameplay itself is incredibly easy to pick up. Several mini-games also allow for four player co-op play, including a Super Smash Brothers type brawl. This would be the mode I spent most of my time in. Smashing your opponents is fun!

The in game colors are vibrant, and the animatics tight and crisp. The voice acting, is much better than standard. The game does an excellent job of taking the player a little beyond the movie. The third person action mixes adventure, platform, and RPG elements nicely. There are no glitches, and the game runs smoothly – no small feat for a game based on a film if history serves as any indication.

The Bad:

Kung Fu Panda was a kid’s movie. It was fun, but I’m not sure I needed to see it in IMAX. The story was standard, and a little on the saccharine side. Likewise, this is a kid’s game. It’s simple, and it will not likely hold the attention of hardcore gamers. The main quest, secondary quest, and mini-games shouldn’t take more than several hours to complete.

While the gameplay IS easy to pick up, it’s not at all geared towards the Wii. This game was clearly not developed with the Wii in mind specifically. A system that utilizes motion controls seems ideal for a game of this type. I’m not saying that the nunchuck (which you use to control Po and company) needs to be used like the actual weapon it derives its name comes from. Still, a couple of swipes here and there don’t make you feel as in the action as many Wii games do.

The Ugly:

As has become sadly standard for the Wii, there is no on-line component. I cannot brawl across the country, taking much of the replay value away from this game. Seriously, when will the Wii recognize its potential to be a system that’s more than just fun at parties?!?!

Final Words:

Kung Fu Panda for the Wii does exactly what it is supposed. It scores with its intended audience. It strikes a nice balance between simple and complicated, and will keep fans of the film entertained. It is not going to keep hard-core gamers occupied for very long, however. It’s hard to grade the game as an adult gamer. But keeping in mind how much I would’ve loved this game as a kid, I have to give it an A-. The game may be simple, but it’s fun. There may also have been several hours spent brawling with friends and shouting lines from the movie… If you have nieces, nephews, younger siblings, or kids, give Kung FU Pando for the Wii a shot. It’s at least “awesome”, if not “totally” so.

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