The premise behind Kung-Fu LIVE is an interesting one. Using the tech from the PS Eye, you will be transported into a side scrolling beat’em up where kicks, punches, and movements you do in real life are mimicked by your on screen doppelgänger. It sounds like every big kids dream, but does it work?
Never before have I seen such a list of caveats before playing a game. Players must stretch their body and muscles before playing; the room must be cleared of excess objects and breakable furniture; there ideally needs to be 7x9ft of clear space; you should wear clothes that clash with the room’s background; playing near windows or direct light is to be avoided, but a good light source is needed. Preparing to play this game is game in itself as you clear the room of objects, children, and partners. The prize for best ever health warning goes to the team at Virtual Air Guitar Company though, as part of the loading screen disclaimer states they are not responsible if you die whilst playing.
When the (fairly lengthy) loading screen is over you will find yourself at the main menu, greeted by a couple of options. I dived straight into the main single player mode only to be greeted by quite an in-depth set up process. Players must pull poses and walk to various parts of the room so that the PS Eye can calibrate, and if that doesn’t work properly then you can go into the advanced options to mess about with settings such as exposure. This was my biggest problem throughout the whole game, and unfortunately it ruined it for me. I could not find a satisfactory setting for love nor money despite following the various suggestions to the letter. This isn’t me being lazy; I genuinely spent a lot of time trying to find a good set up, only to not be recognised, or to start a level with only half my avatar appearing on screen. Of course this caused problems with how the game controlled, and it would frequently have ‘a moment’ where something freaked the camera out and caused my characters to do a backflip, or dash about the screen.
This is a real pity as underneath this frustration is a fun and novel experience. Before each level you are asked to pull various poses whilst the PS Eye takes your photo, and these photos get integrated into the opening comic book style cutscenes. When these end your avatar should appear on-screen, at which point you will be attacked by various bad guys. By tracking your body the PS Eye can sense when you are kicking, punching, and moving and your avatar will react accordingly. I had little glimmers of hope during my play-through when the game worked as it should, and the whole thing is pretty darn accurate.
As well as stringing together your basic kicks and punches, you will gain access to several special moves. A ‘power punch’ will see you inflict more damage on the enemy; you can flip over enemies to avoid them; you can do a ‘ground pound’ style attack which will knock advancing enemies back, and finally you can shoot lightening out of your hands, basically allowing you to act out all your Jedi fantasy’s. Well, maybe not all of them. These add a dash of variety to every level to try and fend off boredom. Pictures taken during the game can also be saved to your PS3’s hard drive so you can show all your mates how handsome you look pulling a superhero pose (or swearing at the camera like a giant idiot).
When you tire of the single player mode you can turn your hand to the ‘Mayhem Designer’, which allows you to create a fight against certain enemy types; choose how many rounds you want; whether special moves are on or off; how strong you want the gravity to be and so on. It’s a nice addition to have but it doesn’t differ greatly from the main single player mode, and chances are if you were bored with that you will be bored with this. Multiplayer mode pits you against up to four other players. You continue playing as you would during the single player mode, but the others can grab a Dual Shock 3 and attempt to take you down.
- A novel idea
- Be a ninja!
- Interesting multiplayer mode
- Terrible calibration issues
- Long list of things to do before playing
- Lots of space needed
- Feels repetitive after a short while
I’m finding this a very awkward game to score. Calibration was such a major issue and it really had an impact on how the game played. I would be interested to hear if any of you encounter such issues, or if it was specifically down to the layout of my room. Although it’s a sad, sad day if we are restricted from playing games because it doesn’t like what clothes we are wearing.
If played in small doses then Kung-Fu LIVE delivers what you would expect; a bit of a laugh with the “oooh look I’m on screen” factor. Ultimately it is shallow though, and repetition soon sets in. I admire what Virtual Air Guitar Company have set out to do, and am saddened the game obviously didn’t work for me as intended.