Based on Stephen Chow's over-the-top martial arts movie Kung Fu Hustle, this free massively multiplayer game hopes to make its money through micro-transactions and its name through casual side-scrolling fights.
What Is It?
Kung Fu Hustle is based on Stephen Chow's movie of the same name. In the game you play as a computer nerd who learns Kung Fu and sets about righting his village's wrongs. The entire game is essentially played as a classic side-scrolling fighter.
What We Saw
I was able to play a few minutes against some enemies in what felt like an instance and then fought a few multiplayer battles in a village that was essentially a fighting arena.
How Far Along Is It?
It's currently in closed beta in Taiwan.
What Needs Improvement?
Ping: It's a bad sign when you're playing on local servers against five or so other people and the game is suffering from ping issues. With the game in beta, I assume this is at the top of the list to be fixed.
Multiplayer Fights: The multiplayer fights were as confusing as you would expect in a side-scrolling bout that involved five fighters. The worst problem was that people would get caught between two other players and just hammered. Not much fun for anyone involved. If it can be tweaked, it could be fun though. I especially like that you bet coins on matches.
More Chow: This is supposed to be based on one of my favorite modern Kung-Fu movies, but I really couldn't tell. Where are the over-the-top battles? Where is the sly sense of humor? This game definitely needs more of Chow's influence.
Depth: What I saw of the game made it feel like a very simplified side-scrolling fighter with the occasional multiplayer match thrown in. Kung Fu Hustle is going to need a lot more depth to compete on any level online.
What Should Stay The Same?
Fighting: While simplistic it worked. There are four movement keys, two attacks, a block and a jump. Tapping a couple of keys at a time launches different combos. For instance up and light attack for some fighters will give you a rising punch. As you play the game you unlock and can buy more and more attack combos. When I played I had about a dozen. It's a lot more fun running around doing flying kicks and sweeps to level up than hammering things with a sword.
Look: The game's look is very clean, very anime. It works well with the game and its roots.
Pricing: The good news, the best news, is that Kung-Fu hustle will be free. The developers plan to make money by selling you extra lives and items like clothing and such. Depending on how they price the extras, it could be very worthwhile.
Kung Fu Hustle is a fresh approach to an increasingly tired genre. Massively multiplayer online games too often follow in each other's footsteps. It's nice to see someone trying something completely different. Of course different doesn't always mean better. Right now the game is too light, even for free to play, to warrant my time. But there's definitely some potential there.