Some games are good, some games are bad… That’s just the circle of life. Usually when a game belongs in the latter category you can at least find traces of potential among the wreckage but that is not the case with Sony’s Japan Studio developed Kung Fu Rider.
Released as a launch title for the Playstation Move, Kung Fu Rider is one of those rare titles that completely fails in every single aspect. Rather than showcasing what types of wacky fun can be had with motion controls, all the game does is evoke the feeling that the Playstation Move is a poor substitute for the Dualshock 3.
Kung Fu Rider’s paper-thin plot involves business man Tobio or his assistant Chun-Li Karin (who we’re going to pretend doesn’t exist) trying to escape the clutches of the Japanese Triads. They attempt to do so by riding an office chair down the busy streets of Tokyo. Why an office chair? Why are they being pursued by the Triads? How did this game ever make it pass the concept art phase? These are all question we never get the answer to. Kung Fu Rider looks and feels very much like a downhill racing game, except there is no one to race against and the only way to lose is by running out of time or continuously bailing. If that makes the game seem at all too easy don’t worry, the completely unresponsive controls actively ensure that you’ll be seeing the Mission Failed screen very frequently.
The game is played solely using the Move controller and this is where the problems stem. To accelerate you shake the controller up and down to steer you’re supposed to simply point in the direction you would like to move. You can also make Tabio Jump by lifting the controller above your head, Dash by thrusting the controller towards to screen, Lean Back to avoid obstacles with the T trigger or perform roundhouse kicks by tapping the Move button.
If the control system sounds poor to you, that’s because it is. The game will often misinterpret your movements and unwilling put you in harm’s way, therefore trying to do anything that doesn’t involve a physical button press is infinitely harder than it should be. You’ll constantly find yourself crashing in to walls or other objects, missing huge air opportunities or travelling in the wrong direction because your character dashed when you wanted him to jump or vice-versa. The steering controls are among the worst I’ve ever experienced so later-on when the game requires you to perform drifts and sharp turns you might as well just turn the Playstation off and take a walk outside.
To make matters worse the courses (for lack of a better term) are littered with an array of hazards including blood hungry Triads, cars, pedestrians, road blockades and other miscellaneous objects. Trying to navigate the course is hard enough by itself but when you have things to avoid and men in suits trying to kick you in the face things quickly become frustrating.
The game is segmented in to “missions”, all of which start and end in the same way. A brief cutscene shows your character running around nervously before spotting an office chair (or similarly structured object) which he decides to take for a ride. At the end of each mission you jump in to the back of a van before a new mission is unlocked and the process repeats. You are awarded a rank upon completion of each mission and if you feel inclined to do so you can post your high scores on the leaderboards.
And that in a nut-shell is Kung Fu Rider. Its sickeningly repetitive, the controls do not work and the core game design is terrible. I could continue to express hatred by talking about the atrocious voice acting, pathetic multiplayer attempt and lack of alternative game modes but is there really any point? Kung Fu Rider is a broken product which should have never made it on to store shelves. The fact that it was produced by the same studio behind the amazing Patapon series and that Sony have deemed fit to charge $40 for it just adds insult to injury. Do not waste your money on this piece of crap; you could probably have more fun trying to escape the real mob in a wheelie bin.