The original Karate Kid was released the same year that I was born. I grew up on this series (including The Next Karate Kid). When Cobra Kai on Netflix was released, I was petrified that another childhood franchise would be crushed by more lazy writers using a known name just to boost viewership. Later, I was relieved by how amazing the show has been while still giving appropriate fan service.
Now I never played the first Cobra Kai game, so I was excited to try out something that I had hoped to be a nice, fun, simple brawler that would take me back to the old days again. Damn was I wrong. Even the trailer for the game scared me. Flux Game Studio…what were you thinking? Is this how the first game was? Was it this well received that it warranted a sequel of this caliber? This will probably be one of the hardest reviews I’ve come to write. I have always done my best to find some positivity in an otherwise negative experience when gaming. Let’s see if I can do the same for Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising.
Nostalgia Sweeps The Leg
The title screen gives a great 80’s vibe with cool electric guitar and street fighter-esque beats. Chozen, originally a villain in Karate Kid 2, narrates this story. In the show, he’s now a great friend to our Karate Kid Daniel. You do however choose which dojo you would like to train with, changing the story path and characters you interact with. I chose Miyagi-do.
Aside from the great music, another plus is that each main character from the show is voiced by the original actors. Sadly, their voice lines are so dialed in and uninspired, they might as well have cast cheaper, similar voice alternatives. Believe me, I think most of the game’s budget came from their paycheck.
The game introduces other characters that are absolutely generic and unimportant. Mostly used as filler for an otherwise shallow game. While you converse with characters, you are sometimes greeted with a meter that pressures you to make a decision before the time runs out. This happens so abruptly and with no real importance to the story so why implement it?
Crane Kick To The Groin
As Miyagi-do, you start off as Daniel’s daughter Sam but can switch between characters on the fly. This enables a change in playstyle with each character and helps reserve your other characters when their health gets too low. When I started the story, Sam goes to her high school to look for new karate students to recruit. That’s it. Instantly, you’re greeted by bullies and other rival dojo students as you battle throughout the school in search of new friends. I immediately switch to Daniel, because who wouldn’t? I ended up confused as to why I was allowed to run around the school as a fifty-something-year-old man beating up teenagers…I went with it anyway.
The combat is what’s most bonkers about this game. This is not a good kind of bonkers. There are combos for each character and yet I find myself only pressing square to get by just fine. I would try to figure out some cool, useful combos but the character animations have unstable fighting mechanics that just flail me around like a bad Cirque du Soleil show. Plus, there’s no lock-on! These animations are not just a problem during combat. Even when I’m running around, I find myself stuck, glitching through objects, and getting lost in objects as if collisional detection is nonexistent.
Here’s the kicker (pun intended). Each character has powers! Ice powers, wind powers, fire powers….Why!? As if the dreadfully generic (and sometimes scary) character and enemy designs weren’t enough. With bad combat, incredibly basic in-game music, and amazingly finicky camera controls, the fighting mechanics make no sense! Why am I shooting ice powers with chi energy like another version of Dragonball: Evolution? It’s like the developers wanted to throw the kitchen sink in and missed, breaking everything in sight instead.
I can’t tell you how hard it was going through this game. I cannot believe there can be so little passion put into such a beloved franchise just to make a buck. Nothing about this game makes sense to me. It reminds me of a time in the early 2000s when every licensed game was trash and used just to make some sales. There’s nothing redeeming about Cobra Kai 2. At the very most, it’s a pass for very young children to pass the time with while they button mash through each level. I hope this is not a sign of future licenses being half-assed just to sell. Please have mercy next time.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Cobra Kai 2: Rising Dojos for PlayStation 5 provided by Flux Game Studio and GameMill Entertainment.