When it comes to licensed mobile games, I tend to ignore the glut of titles on the App Store. Too many are lazy puzzle games that have you matching three or four gems, embarking on a “saga” that’s not even a story, or silliness that doesn’t even make sense within the context of a license.
When I saw the latest Kung Fu Panda mobile game was taking a different approach and utilizing card game convention to appeal to more “hardcore” gamers, however, I was hooked. Of course, I didn’t know from just looking at the game and its marketing materials that it’d end up being so much like Hearthstone. But that’s fine. I won’t even knock it for lifting the mechanics because despite the familiarly, it’s such a darn fun game. Kung Fu Panda: Battle of Destiny is a decent card battler with mechanics pulled straight out of the popular Blizzard card game, a slick interface, and fun characters. It even sounds like Jack Black himself swung by to do the voiceovers, which is kind of rare these days considering how many sound-alikes there are in voice acting. It’s a nice touch.
If you’ve played Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering before, you’ll probably feel at home here with Battle of Destiny. Both opponents take turn drawing cards, placing monster/character cards on the field, and attacking or defending. You can use your monsters to attack your opponent’s team, but if they have nothing (or you don’t) you’ll do damage to them. When their HP hits zero, it’s game over.
Of course, you’re nothing without a strong deck. Being that this isn’t just a card game — it’s a collectible card game — you’ve got to make sure you keep a formidable team up and running. You can have four copies of any one type of card in your deck, much like the rules of the Pokémon card game. You won’t be able to build a souped-up deck with the most powerful cards you can find this way, so that rule is of course necessary for balance.
Each match allows you to redraw cards from your deck, build up Chi, which is the force that allows you to spend the point cost of each card and summon monsters from your hand, and more. Each card can only make one move, however. Where the game differs from several other card battlers is the fact that you can attack on your own as a player, which takes some getting used to. I forgot this was a step during my turn a couple times and ended up skipping a valuable part of my turn that way.
When your cards do battle, they do so in a very literal way, with the card taking an anthropomorphized form and “beating up” your opponent. It would have been interesting to see more animation or involvement from the actual characters on the cards, but I can appreciate foregoing those kinds of frills to instead make the game as quick and easy as possible to get into.
There’s plenty of progression to partake in if you’re interested in challenging different “masters” from the Kung Fu Panda universe as well, and the opportunity to play against other people if that’s the kind of thing that really floats your boat. The game’s practically made for playing with others, and younger adopters of Battle of Destiny will no doubt want to take this show on the road as well.
Kung Fu Panda Battle of Destiny is a quick and easy card game that anyone can get into. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable tie-in to a popular franchise, and I can see myself continuing to play it for quite some time. It could have used a little more polish in some of its departments, but I suppose that’s the very same argument I could apply to the movies as well. Either way, if you’re a fan of the bigger card games out there and want something more in the same vein, you’d do well to download this tie-in for some fun on the side.