Kung Fu Panda Legendary WarriorsESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Action Games
Wii Remote and Nunchuk Compatible
128KB to Save Game
Movie based games have always been given a bad wrap and for the most part with good reason. Many of these tittles are rushed out the door unfinished as developers scramble to get the game out on shelves to coincide with the movie hitting the big screen. The first instalment in the Kung Fu Panda franchise was essentially no different. While it had many great elements, and I really enjoyed the Xbox 360 version of the game, at the end of the day we recommended readers to download the demo before they went ahead and made the 50 dollar plunge. Kung Fu Panda Legendary Warriors on the Wii and DS is the second release based on the movie and they come just as the movie has been released on DVD and Blu-ray. We had the chance to review the Wii version. So does Legendary Warriors address some of the deficiencies from the original Kung Fu Panda game? Not quite; however just like the first game it has some moments of pure bodaciousness and awesomeness.
On the surface Legendary Warriors is a bright and colorful looking game. It features some simple yet decent looking level designs and the character animations are nicely rendered. For those that have played any of the next-gen Kung-Fu Panda games you will have to scale back some of your expectations. Legendary Warriors is not a high definition title and as a result there is only so much the developers could do in the visuals department. Legendary Warriors does not match Dreamworks stellar animations from Kung Fu Panda on the big screen, however the big panda himself makes a fairly smooth transition from big screen to the Wii console.
For the most part, the character’s animations are solid and the detail can be impressive. All characters like including the “Furios Five”, Po (our panda hero), Tai Lung, Master Shifu, and Po’s father, all look as they do on the feature film. Fans of the movie will easily recognize all their favorite characters. On the other hand their movements, although somewhat well done, are not as smooth as I would have liked and the game does suffer from some framerate issues.
The cut-scenes are a bit of a disappointment as well. Kung Fu Panda for the Xbox 360 featured some slick cut scenes. Legendary Warriors is almost the opposite. You get these still picture that play out and this really takes you away from the gameplay as opposed to immersing you into it. It cheapens the experience and seems like an easy way out for developers in my view. That being said, the cut-scenes do flow with the game and manage to do the job.
As far as the sound is concerned, Legendary Warriors is strong but not the best we have seen in recent months. First of all the voice actors sound pretty good and the guy who does Jack Black’s voice sounds incredibly like Jack Black himself. I would presume it is not Jack Black’s voice as he did not do the original Kung Fu Panda games and I was unable to confirm at press time, nevertheless he does sound just like him. Having Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan do the games voice work would have skyrocketed the production costs, however other recent Activision movie based games (e.g. Bee Movie Game) have been able to secure the films main voice over talent. In any event, the in-game dialog and humor is very effective; just as it was in the previous Kung Fu Panda game. The fluctuating volumes of the character voices can be irritating at times however for most part is not a major deficiency.
As far as the soundtrack is concerned, Legendary Warriors is solid and many of those Martial Arts Chinese sounds are accurately depicted in the movie. It is very repetitive, however this is intentional. Bottomline, the music fits the game. As for the rest of the in-game sound effects, they are very strong and compliment the rest of the audio. The fighting sequences feature solid battle sounds and the breakable objects shatter quite loudly. Overall I have no major concerns with the games total sound package however there is still some room for improvement.
Legendary Warriors is not a drastic departure from the big screen movie. The focus is less on story and more on Kung Fu fighting action. Lots of waving and shaking of the Wii motion sensitive controls is the name of the game as you battle through hordes of enemies. The game is clearly aimed at younger gamers and for those who want some mindless brawling action. Legendary Warriors is an all-new adventure but the main theme of the game, where you are on the hunt for Tai Lung who is attempting to capture the Furious Five, is still present. And yes, there is more to this, however I don’t want to give too much away.
Legendary Warriors features two primary game modes: the multiplayer and single player experience. The single player campaign composed of 13 missions. When you first fire up the single player mode you choose to play with either Po, Shifu, Tigress or Monkey. I should also note at this point that you can also play the single player game co-operatively with a friend who can also choose any of the four playable characters and join you as you progress through the single player campaign. The co-op mode is great feature for families and is certainly a strong selling point for those looking for games to experience the awesomeness with others.
I started out my campaign playing as the big panda himself. The missions are pretty straight forward as you fend off streams of enemies until you reach the end of a level where you conclude with a big boss fight. All the levels essentially follow the same formula so it does tend to get extremely repetitive at times. Mini-games break up the monotony, however for the most part the mashing can get exhausting.
Controlling Po was quite basic. To move you use the Nunchuk’s analog stick. Jumping is activated by pressing the A button on the Wii Remote while blocking is accomplished with the B button. Moving the Nunchuk and Wii Remote in different directions allows you to pull-off special moves and each character has there own signature moves. Seems like a straightforward control system however Legendary Warriors features far too much waggling of the controls. Many of the endless and repetitive battles involve wiggling and waggling the controls way too much and it becomes tiring after only minutes. The responsiveness of the controls is impressive as the characters move exactly as you intend them to do, but the task of having to wiggle and waggle is just not as relaxing as I would have hoped for. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for getting off the couch and involved in my games, but man this was almost overkill in my opinion.
As you progress in Legendary Warriors your character builds up ‘chi’ energy. No, that is not an abbreviation for Chicago energy or a Starbucks tea, but rather when your character unleashes a series of attacks he builds chi energy. When your chi meter is full you can unleash a ferocious attack. The results can be quite satisfying but there is a catch, in order to pull off the move you have to emulate the sequence displayed at the top of the screen using the Wii controls, similar to context sensitive controls where you press buttons in a sequence. Far too often the results were failed attempts leaving you frustrated to no end.
Legendary Warriors also features a variety of mini-games, however I could have done without them. As you progress in the story mode you are forced to play some of these mini-games which really have no business being in such a game and only amount to waving the controllers around like a mad man. Again, nothing is relaxing about Legendary Warriors’ mini-games.
The multiplayer game allows you to face off one-on-one against another player which has some moments. But at the end of the day it is just more wiggling and waggling that makes you feel like you are never in complete control of your character. The multiplayer aspect is geared for you and some friends grabbing a few Wii controllers and then beating each other up on the screen. It duplicates Spider-Man: Friend or Foe’s multiplayer modes as it is all about fighting. Overall, it is a nice change of pace from the single player game, however the multiplayer aspect of Legendary Warriors is fairly limited compared to other Triple A games on the Wii.
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