hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Johnny Kung Fu

Review: Johnny Kung Fu

2:00 PM on 07.18.2012 // Tony Ponce
  @megaStryke

A few weeks ago, I raised a stink about LCD games, particularly Tiger Electronics' suite of portables. Contrary to my comments, I admit to enjoying such devices in short bursts back in my youth. I also have fond, and certainly slightly rose-tinted, memories of playing Game & Watch Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong. If nothing else, LCD games proved that you can glean entertainment out of the simplest of activities.

Johnny Kung Fu is a fairly entertaining martial arts brawler that draws a lot of inspiration from the Game & Watch line. In fact, a few stages are even modeled directly after G&W classics, limited animations and all. It ultimately falls short due to lack of variety, because when there's a pool of nearly 60 G&W games to choose from, why settle for only three?

Johnny Kung Fu (Nintendo eShop)
Developer: UFO Interactive Games
Publisher: UFO Interactive Games
Released: July 12, 2012
MSRP: $5.99

Johnny Kung Fu could be considered a minigame collection, more along the lines of WarioWare rather than Wii Sports. Each level presents a specific challenge that can ideally be completed in under a minute, though the escalating difficulty will do its damnedest to slow you down. You'll want to shave as many seconds as you can, because the entire game must be cleared in under an hour of real-time.

The threadbare plot is nearly identical to that of Kung Fu on the NES: You are Johnny. Johnny has a girlfriend named Paula. Paula gets kidnapped by Mr. Wang's crime syndicate and taken to the top of the Unethical Financial Operations (UFO, get it?) tower. Johnny must go from floor to floor, Game of Death style, in order to rescue Paula.

Instead of five floors as in Kung Fu, there are 32, and you must clear all of them before the aforementioned time limit is reach. You carry a maximum of three lives, regaining one after beating a level; should you continue after a game over, you take a five-minute penalty hit. All of a sudden, an hour doesn't feel like an ample amount of time to save the day.

Stages are played on either the top or the bottom screen. Top-screen stages feature straight-up kung fu action -- beat a certain number of low-level grunts then tackle a boss. Sometimes the color is drained from the environment and you have to restore it by beating up thugs while avoiding falling ceiling tiles. Other times you have to deflect knives or rockets back at a sharp-nosed mook in order to stun him and close the gap for a hit.

You begin the game with a standard set of punches and kicks, but you eventually gain new abilities in the form of knockdown combos and single-button super attacks. You also have the ability in most stages to jump between the background and foreground, which has the negative effect of reducing strategy to switching planes, waiting for the enemies to follow, then attacking the second they land. Bosses have an invincibility period before they perform their signature move, but if you are able to hit them with a knockdown technique the second they recover from a fall, you can catch them in an infinite loop. And once you acquire the single-button uppercut, you pretty much become untouchable.

As basic as the combat system is, any strategy demanded of the player is rendered useless when each fight feels like smacking down lifeless cardboard standees. You can't even muster any satisfaction out of being a steamrolling badass.

The Game & Watch clones are played on the bottom screen. These stages are easily more interesting and more challenging than the waves of kung-fu monkeys, but they too slide into tedium.

As I already mentioned, these levels are modeled after three particular G&W titles -- Donkey Kong, Judge, and Ball. In the "Donkey Kong" levels, you must dodge bombs and meat cleavers tossed by a pair of cannon fodder foes, then you must avoid getting fried by laser beams blocking the elevator. In the "Judge" levels, a random number appears before you and your opponent's heads, and you have to dodge his hammer if his number is higher or attack if your number is equal or greater. In the "Ball" levels, you must juggle a set of bombs without letting any of them fall.

These levels look like they could have been pulled straight from the Game & Watch gallery, with monochrome sprites and stiff animations atop a static, colored background. As you progress, the action speeds up and the number of objects on screen increase. Whereas the kung-fu stages become easier over time, the G&W stages become more difficult.

Unfortunately, I'm disappointed by the lack of even more G&W-inspired stages. Of the 32 floors, 16 are devoted to repeating the same three G&W clones, and not even in equal measure -- you often play the "Donkey Kong" level several times in a row. I believe five level types would have been perfect, allowing players an opportunity to play each at least three times. Instead, this is a case of missed potential.

And let's not forget about that overall time limit! Since you're likely to exhaust your time well before you reach the roof, at least during your first run, you'll be restarting from the ground floor over and over again. And should you actually make it to the top, the final boss will likely drain you of all your lives before you realize the technique needed to dispatch him. It's an incredible oversight that UFO didn't offer a way to continue from a checkpoint with whatever time you had remaining by that point instead of demanding that players begin fresh.

Well... that's not true. There is a curious workaround.

As you make your ascent, you unlock bonus modes -- two variants of the "Donkey Kong" stage and an endless wave of minions. If you enter a mode then quickly exit, a "continue" option will appear in the main menu, allowing you to restart from a point fairly late in your most recent run. But every time you get a game over or turn off the 3DS, you'll have to redo the bonus mode trick.

This is clearly a glitch, because after beating the game once and opting to play a harder second quest, the "continue" option becomes a permanent fixture. I discovered this method completely by accident after my second unsuccessful run, but I fear others may never stumble across it. Maybe it's a bug that only affects certain players; I wonder if its too minor an issue for UFO to go in and update the code on the eShop. Either way, it's a glaring flaw.

Johnny Kung Fu certainly has its charms, and the dichotomy between the combat levels and the Game & Watch-inspired throwbacks is quite novel. It's just a shame that all the charm is burned through so quickly. The result is a game of extremes with no happy medium -- it's either too simple and brainless or too tedious and frustrating.



THE VERDICT

6

Johnny Kung Fu - Reviewed by Tony Ponce
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Tony Ponce, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure megaStryke Tips
(Decommissioned) Super Fighting Robot more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Hey look! I bought some toys and stuff and junk and what-not. [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/Mobile%20Uploads/2015-08/IMAG0656.jpg~original[/IMG]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Yes, it's essentially a trace job, but this is my first piece of pixel art: [img]http://i.imgur.com/N0zmHiL.png[/img]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Oh for fuck's sake, why is there no Netflix app for my PSTV?
Zenbrains avatarZenbrains
A new fun game for iOS and Android devices. Featuring a beautiful minimalistic design and an easy gesture based interface. Hope you'll like it. [url] https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1022015201[/url] [img]http://bit.ly/1EtWjdJ[/img]
Ben Davis avatarBen Davis
Apologies for the lack of Experience Points lately! I'm taking a short break from writing them, but don't worry. They'll be back soon enough!
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Am I the only one excited to play the Forza Motorsport 6 demo?
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
Adventure games are a big part of the indie scene, but there's a reason their popularity plummeted as graphics evolved. This clicking on everything, just in case, nonsense is for the birds. 90s birds, but birds.
Flegma avatarFlegma
Spotted some "The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3" (1989) DVDs in a store. Hearing music and sound effects from the game is more amusing than it should be - although the running shrill gets old quickly.
extatix avatarextatix
Diablo 3 patch 2.3.0 equals more grinding. Good.
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Funny coincidence: Last week saw the release of Until Dawn, which talked about a Canadian tribe of Native Americans called the Cree,and last night a Cree woman (Ms. Canada) won the Ms. Universe contest. Butterfly Effect updated.
MeeGhoulz avatarMeeGhoulz
Playing UNTIL DAWN 1st time:I'm alright with QTE,but an option to use direction as choices instead of buttons poppin' on screen would be welcome!Also:NO SHINY ITENS TO INDICATE CLUES!LET ME DISCOVER THEM!All in all,it's fun enough...
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
If I was to play through the NES library, besides being madness, what order do I do it? Alphabetically or Release date-wise? Whats the Dtoid universe think?
Gundy avatarGundy
Maybe someday I'll finish Natural Doctrine AKA Natty Doc...
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
You've got guts, a powerful soul You've got guts, sweet and sour You've got guts, do the guts A man sweats, he really does, go!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Finished Xenoblade Chronicles for the first time in about 107 hours. Got tired of attempting to clear as many sidequests as there were left available. Maybe in NG+...
Paul S avatarPaul S
GeoHolmes [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/ntf3p5PqS2GteYfXUH33[/img]
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
I have no idea what this game is about but if this isn't the best goddamn cover art ever, I don't know what is. [url=http://imgur.com/3yw3G8S][img]http://i.imgur.com/3yw3G8S.jpg[/img][/url]
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
#thanksnintendo.
Shinta avatarShinta
Xenoblade X limited edition on Amaxon now. Will probably sell out very fast like usual. http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=1103729&page=1
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Just got a Vita with a 16GB card for super cheap. What games should I be looking out for?
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
Johnny Kung Fu


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -