A “sweep the leg” journey.

I’m a sucker for a good old fashioned kung fu story. Who in their right mind hasn’t had a sudden urge to don a Gi, strap a headband on, and set out on an impossible heroes’ quest to save a fetching beauty from a sinister despot? Kung Fu FIGHT! by Nostatic Software hits all of these marks with the power of a roundhouse kick to the head, and does so in the form of a fun to play, nostalgia-infused, rock solid runner. 

The story begins in a traditional fashion. An oppressive warlord storms a village somewhere in the ancient Orient and demands tribute from a bearded old man. After the warlord is denied, he abducts the old man’s granddaughter, lets loose a hearty laugh, and flees on horseback to his well-protected fortress – but not before one of his goons pitches a well-placed ninja star into the old man’s chest. Our kung fu hero witnesses this tragedy and sets forth on a vengeance-fueled quest to retrieve the girl and restore honor to the village once again.

Kung Fu FIGHT!

It sounds more than a bit serious, but don’t be fooled. The storyline is filled with self-aware comedy and “lampshade” moments that push it more towards the realm of Kung Pow satire. For example, as the title of the game – Kung Fu FIGHT! – flashes on the screen, our protagonist mutters to himself “Kung Fu? But I only know Karate…” The hero waxes sarcastically throughout, and It’s all in good fun.

The gameplay is fast, simple, and effective. You’ve got three virtual buttons on the screen – Jump, Slide, and Attack, and they work as advertised. You run to the right of your screen against a hodgepodge backdrop of Oriental artistry, jumping over obstacles, sliding beneath obstructions, and dispatching a legion of enemies yanked from your favorite Saturday afternoon chop socky flick.

You can even mix up your moves a tad – sliding towards an enemy ninja and ending his existence with a last second kick to the shins for example – and as you do, accuracy proves itself to be top notch. Every death that occurred was the fault of my own lack of timing, and not due to wonky controls. In a game like this where minor setbacks are frequent occurrences (as you’re sent to your last checkpoint every time you lose a life) this is a major relief. Kung Fu FIGHT! is difficult, there’s no denying that; but it isn’t unforgiving, and there are adjustable difficulty settings to choose from if your mission proves to be too impossible.

Kung Fu FIGHT!

The graphical style is very reminiscent of something you’d see in the pre-8-bit days. Very retro, and if you’re in to that sort of graph paper bit-mapped style (as I am), you should be very pleased with what you see. I was reminded of such old school classics as Karateka and The Ninja, but with an even more primitive, pixilated style. 

The music is a bit droning, but never to the point of being offensive. After a while (as you drift into that golden zone where you become one with the controls) you kind of stop being aware of it at all. Maybe that was the intention. It is pretty Zen, I must admit.

Everything in this game blends together wonderfully to create a top-notch runner experience that any fan of the genre should be proud to add to their library. No need to meditate on the experience – I had a blast with this one.