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Review: Kung-Fu LIVE

You are the controller! Oh wait...

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.

Score: 5/10

  1. minerwilly
    Since: Feb 2009

    Sounds like every Kinect Game i have tried so far , Its a pity as I was looking forwards to this one for a while .The price was a bit surprising yesterday too :(

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 18:21.
    • Kovacs
      Since: Dec 2009

      You know it’s not a Kinect game, right?

      Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 18:22.
      • minerwilly
        Since: Feb 2009

        Yea sorry Kovacs , i meant the poor calibration integration . I was prepared to spend 5 or 6 quid on this but its double that and i really respect the reviews on this site more than any other so a 5/10 and a hefty price tag mean i will have to give a wide berth .

        Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 20:28.
  2. ThatMattKid
    Since: Jan 2010

    Whats the action like when the other players have the controls? Pity as I had such high hopes for this one, but I could definitely see how it could become repetitive! Oh well I’m sure there will eventually be a game that warrants the 100 plus bucks I shelled out for move and the Eye toy.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 18:24.
  3. Sympozium
    Since: Aug 2009

    So literally you can’t pull off a Kamehameha… thats disappointing

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 18:24.
  4. Forrest_01
    Since: Jun 2009

    I thought that the price point was a little ‘ambitious’ yesterday to be honest, but when it’s in the same update that carries Rainbow Six 2 for £23.99, this looks positively cheap!
    Additionally, this game would probably be on another level if your onscreen persona could battle other onscreen personas over the interwebz! Hilarity would surely ensue! :)

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 18:33.
  5. RFC2007
    Since: Sep 2009

    I bought this yesterday at the slightly overexpensive £10.99, and as mentioned by Kovacs, the callibration is a complete nightmare. Its so fiddly to get your avatar loooking half decent.

    I tried to play this last night, and had to cover my wall mirror uo with a sheet, bring an extra lamp downstairs to brighten up my living room further, and put on some very dark clothes, just to get it looking alright-ish. Then theres the amount of space you need to play it in too! had to rearrange furniture etc.

    Its just not worth the hassle! When you do eventually get it looking ok though, the game can be quite alot of fun in short spells i guess.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 19:02.
  6. DrNate86
    Since: Apr 2010

    A pity to hear about the calibration issues. I was tempted to buy this but thought I would hold out for a few reviews, and I’m glad I did now!

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 19:09.
  7. kivi95
    Since: Oct 2009

    Hmm that i will buy it when it comes to special offers.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 19:22.
  8. Quinlank
    Since: Aug 2009

    Those last two cons basically sum up all camera based games in a nutshell.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 19:44.
  9. Smoutefretter_BE
    Since: Aug 2008

    I have the game also and have no big issues calibrating.
    I play in my room which is dark (only 1 window, light grey wallpaper and just a set of spots to light my room) and the EYE really tracks me well apart from a movement or 2 that occurs suddenly :p like stated in your review. And you need some space indeed, but with some TV-turning magic you can create the room you need (I’m about 3 mtrs away from my tv).

    I must say that I’m impressed with the game, it works well and it’s fun playing and seeying yourself inside a comicbook. The EYE follows evry movement your feet, arms and body makes. Also cool to see random objects turn into weapons. the “weapon” tracking works fine for big fat objects and moderate for small things ( e.g. a cap).

    the only thing I can say: If there’s a demo try it.

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 20:09.
    • minerwilly
      Since: Feb 2009

      Yea i will look for a demo in the upcoming weeks , id like to at least give it a little try i guess.

      Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 20:30.
  10. whereismax123
    Since: Jan 1970

    its the layout of your room . promise . ok i have creame covered room, well lit by a hanging light consisting of 5, 40 watt bulbs . so very well lit . i still had to do a custom calibration (which i think everybody would have to) but its easy (a little timely) but simply requires you seeing “all of you” and as little background as possible . you need 3-4 steps in front of you . then from the middle of the tv you need to 3 steps at each side . which is quite a bit , but its better to have more space than less in this game as you will be quickly moving about on instinct .the only issue i had was having a dark sofa behind me which coverd most of my legs as i had black jeans . worked still , but would jump about alot . i put some white trousers (yer some what annoying) and the game worked flawless . it also takes some time to get used to how the game works. but i promise you , considering the cheap camera and the fact that full body motion is far off perfect today . it works exceptionally well . if you have a well lit room and light back ground (or light clothes for a dark wall) and have the space . its awsome :D

    Comment posted on 09/12/2010 at 20:21.

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