If anyone were to tell me that I would be reviewing a Karate Kid game 34 years after its original release then I would have laughed and blocked them for spreading unimaginable falsities. But here we are, and here I am a super fan of the Cobra Kai TV series and reviewing Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues which surprisingly is a rather decent side-scrolling beat ’em up. I used the word “surprisingly” because history has proven that video game tie-ins of TV shows and movies rarely do its source material justice. However, that is not the case with this game.
Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues opens with an animated cut scene showing Dimitri and Hawk in the principal’s office. The principal wants to know what’s all the fighting about. At this point, you get to pick which dojo you want to play as which includes Cobra Kai (damn right! team Johnny 4 life) or Daniel LaRusso’s Miyagi-Do dojo.
I’m happy to report that William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) and Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso) provided voice over for their respective characters. The same can’t be said for the students which is a mixed bag of the original cast and stand-ins, but let’s be honest, if you’re picking this game up it’s to play as one of the iconic characters mentioned.
Since I picked Cobra Kai, I started off with Diaz. Another cut scene starts showing some local bullies talking smack about you and your dojo. Overall, the story is the same regardless of which side you pick, and since it’s a video game, it had to throw in some filler goons to beat on. In traditional beat’em up fashion, we have a variety of enemy types with their own set of moves, weaknesses, and strengths. The art design is decent with a colorful cartoonish style. All of the locations have their own look and feel. Some levels will even do this 90 degree turn when walking through some areas. Not sure why they added this effect since it adds nothing to the gameplay. It’s also worth noting that if you want the “true” ending to Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues then you will need to play both DOJOs. Since the game is only a couple of hours long, this isn’t too hard to obtain.
While the story and level design may not wow you, the gameplay will at least raise an eyebrow. Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues seems to have included every modern and retro beat’em up mechanic in which in turn keeps the gameplay feeling fresh. You have your traditional punch and kicks which can be linked to create combos. You can also perform jump & run attacks along with some grapple attacks. Once your opponent is down, you can press the (L1) button to unleash some ground & pound. There is even one ground attack move that will bang your opponent’s head against the ground. If you are standing near the legs of a downed enemy you can swing him around to bang against other enemies or a wall. There are also a good variety of interactive objects. For example, if you see an (L1) icon hovering over an object, that means that you can smash your opponent into it. Poles, dumpsters, cars, pinball machines, and my favorite the porta-potty, all offered a fun way to dispose of these street thugs!
There are a total of 8 playable characters. As you progress through the campaign, these characters will become available. Johnny became available fairly early and thanks to the quick swap in/out mechanic, all one needs to do is press on the assigned D-pad directional button to bring the selected character into the fight. Each character also has his/her own skill tree of dojo specific moves. All moves from Cobra Kai add a fire element to them while Miyagi-Do dojo moves are ice. The inclusion of these two elements was clearly done to add some flare to these moves which I’m cool with.
These dojo moves do some serious damage but also have a cool-down period so use them wisely. Throughout the 28 levels, you will find weapons and consumable items such as energy replacers and coins which can be used at your selected DOJO to learn new moves. Also worth noting, all coins that are obtained during character swaps are combined. So once you complete a level and are back at the dojo, make sure you make smart upgrade choices with those coins. While at the dojo, you can also see a challenge list. Completing these challenges during gameplay will earn you more coins.
Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues doesn’t reinvent the beat’em up genre but it does make a cool addition. The swap in/out mechanic along with the option to play co-op with a friend are great features. The fact that you can learn up to 40 unique skills means the dreaded boredom of repetitive gameplay can be avoided. Overall there is some real fun to be had with this title. Just remember to sweep the leg and SHOW NO MERCY!