Kung-Fu Live: review

  • Format: PSN
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Virtual Air Guitar Company
  • Developer: Virtual Air Guitar Company
  • Players: 1 (PSEye), 1 – 5 (PSEye plus joypads)
  • Site: http://www.kungfulivegame.com/

“Players engage in playing this game entirely at their own risk. In no event shall the Publisher or the Developer be liable for any personal or bodily injury (including death or disability) or property damage arising out of or incurring in connection with playing this game”.

The cheery disclaimer above is presented to you whenever you start up Kung-Fu Live. This is because developers Virtual Air Guitar Company know that when it comes to fitness and kung fu skills, the average gamer is less Bruce Lee and more Bruce Forsyth. In order to play you will punch, kick and jump like a deadly ninja warrior (i.e. flail around like a marionette controlled by somebody having an epileptic fit). Move is not used; your movements are tracked via PlayStation Eye alone.

So, yes, the PlayStation camera is wearing its Kinect trousers for this game. First and foremost, this robs Kung-Fu Live of any pick-up-and-play appeal; each time you start a new game, you need to get the camera used to your surroundings. You do this by walking from one side of the room to the other three times, occasionally waving at your TV like a toddler at the end of their favourite cartoon. With that done, you then need to make sure the game can distinguish between you and your living room. Unless you have an actual blue screen stuffed down the back of the sofa, this will prove to be problematic.

Nope, no shooting shuriken out of your armpit, sadly.

You’ll need to be 6ft or a little further from your TV, with a few empty metres either side of you to ensure you don’t kill anybody in an undignified manner. In addition the more the colours of your clothes stand out from the background, the better; ideally, you’ll be wearing outrageously camp clothing in a goth’s bedroom.

You will almost certainly have to delve into the thankfully easy to understand and use ‘advanced settings’. Even with optimum results, tiny parts of your living room will come with you. If you’re lucky however, you’ll find that the on-screen you is small enough to render the unwanted parts all but invisible.

If you’re able to get past the hooha of calibration, you’ll be represented by a digitised version of yourself that would fit snugly into one of the first Mortal Kombat games. The game tracks your movements with admirable accuracy, with each punch and kick immediately performed by your digital pixie. The plot is some gloriously daft nonsense about an evil painting and a magic comic book; it’s all an excuse for you to very physically beat up hoodlums, ninjas, small gremlin style creatures, and even a few giants.

There are four special moves, though only the last (and best) to unlock – shooting lightning from your fingertips – is easy to perform. Jumps and (especially) somersaults are tricky to have the game recognise, perhaps because you’re not expected to literally spin through the air yourself to trigger them.

For the story scenes we hammed it up in all our lo-res, sofa-and-wall-in-the-background glory.

The game’s ambition is ultimately its undoing. As you progress (and inevitably whimper down to Easy) you’ll find yourself expected to defeat six opponents or more per stage. Extremely tiring, especially if you need a second attempt. Up to four people can fight you via joypads in multiplayer, which can be more tiring still – especially as they have the luxury of a block button.

At its best it’s fantastic fun, and guaranteed to have watching friends/family laugh and fear for your mental health. Play is limited to short but exhausting sessions however and, with a big question mark hanging over longevity, this is sadly little more than a curiosity.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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