Wii

North America

Kung Fu Panda

by Zachary Miller - August 7, 2008, 10:56 am PDT
Total comments: 25

5

It's panda-monium! Now get off the stage!

Kung Fu Panda has now appeared on all four currently active consoles, including the PS2. Unfortunately, the Wii version gets the short end of the stick with surprisingly primitive graphics, horrible sound quality, and questionable motion-control gameplay.

The game concerns Po, a fairly large panda (voiced by Jack Black) who lives in an animal village in China. Despite his lack of fighting prowess, the village elder (a turtle) names him as the Dragon Warrior and gives him the task of protecting the land from foreign invaders – specifically, a big mean tiger named Tai Lung. Po’s ascendancy shocks the Furious Five, the village’s seemingly most-skilled fighters. Thus begins Po’s training by Shifu, the village elder. This training apparently consists of fetch quests, awkward platforming, and repetitious fights.

Before we begin the panda flambé, let’s talk about what Kung Fu Panda on the Wii does right. First off, this is an excellent game for younger gamers (in theory). Players are usually given a short list of objectives to complete in each level, and are praised for doing so. The main objective is always very obvious—fight the boars, find the eggs, get through the obstacle course - but the secondary objective usually amounts to “find all the fireworks,” or “don’t let the boars steal any treasures.” The levels are also littered with yellow coins which are used to upgrade Po’s stats and attacks. The attacks are wide-ranging, going from a simple punch combo to a belly flop and a Hadouken-style energy punch. The majority of these moves use simple motion-controls to activate, although some motions (like the Hadouken punch) are a little too imprecise to be very useful. Po can also use weapons—usually a simple staff—to attack enemies in yet another way. All of these combat options are great. Also, the writing is lighthearted and, at times, genuinely funny. Jack Black really breathes life into Po.

Unfortunately, the game is plagued by hit detection problems, platforming disasters, and combative situations that don’t take advantage of the robust combat system. Po has a double-jump, but this double-jump does not add any significant height to his jump. He can walk across a tightrope, but balance is tied to the less-responsive Nunchuk rather than the Wii Remote. He can leap across gaps, but the camera will often change direction in mid-leap, which makes landing a problem. He can curl up in a ball and roll around the environment at top speed, but the controls during a roll are iffy and the speed is such that you never really know where you’re going. Po can block enemy attacks in a manner ripped from Super Smash Bros., but enemy attacks often break the defensive sphere too quickly for it to be practical. He can fight enemies, but his stronger attacks, which require motion control, are slow on the pick-up, and our hero is often batted away while preparing his attack animation.

The camera is your worst enemy during the game’s platforming segments, as it switches directions seemingly at random. In open areas, you are able to rotate the camera with the D-pad, but in more static areas, the camera has its own priorities, few of which involve helping you reach your goal. The viewing apparatus tends to hide important items, like green coins (which unlock “bonus” content) and health pick-ups. Platforming sequences are further hindered by Po’s lack of shadow. Most of the time this isn’t an issue, but in swampy areas where Po must leap among lily pads this problem leads to far too many under or over-estimated jumps, and immediate deaths. There are also plenty of instances in which Po gets “stuck” on a piece of the environment while leaping. It’s never game-breaking, but it’s irritating and shouldn’t happen at all.

The absolute worst segments of the game involve interactive cutscenes. We’ve all played Resident Evil 4 and/or God of War by now, right? Both of those games make use of cutscenes in which the player actively partakes, pressing buttons at certain times to affect the outcome of the scene. Instead of using buttons, Kung Fu Panda uses Wii Remote motions to get the job done, and this job is not done well. The problem is that your motions only register half the time. Quick! Move the Remote to the left! Sorry, it didn’t register, and now you have to start all over again. These cutscenes are absolute roadblocks due to the game’s questionable motion sensitivity. There’s also a certain boat sequence which you control with the Nunchuk that is so poorly designed that one wonders if young children (the game’s probable audience) will have the patience for it.

By any grading rubric out there, from a graphical standpoint Kung Fu Panda looks bad. It looks really bad. Environments are dull and painfully flat, character models are blocky and animate poorly, and particle effects are noticeably absent, replaced by obvious 2D sprite effects. When Po walks through water, he’s just walking through a floating texture, with tiny pixels follow behind him.

Kung Fu Panda’s sound is equally appalling. There are times—many times—when the music is just plain absent. Sound effects, depending on which sound effect you’re triggering, are either too loud or too quiet. There are instances when the sound effect just doesn’t register. You throw a bomb only to have it silently explode. The production values are low; let’s just leave it at that.

Amazingly, the best part of Kung Fu Panda is its multiplayer mode. Similar to Super Smash Bros. Brawl, up to four players (sorry, no bots) can duke it out with some of the game’s main characters. Different stages and characters are unlocked by finding special coins hidden throughout the main game. And while the fighting engine isn’t as refined as Brawl itself, Kung Fu Panda’s multiplayer battles manage to keep players interested. Vets may tire of it quickly, but the younger crowd will get the most out of it.

Kung Fu Panda does little to elevate itself above the typical movie tie-in game, and manages to lower itself in a few instances (e.g. graphics and sound). You’d be better off seeing the movie instead.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
4 3 5 6 5 5
Graphics
4

The Wii is capable of more. Heck, the GameCube is capable of more.

Sound
3

Never good, and occasionally absent.

Control
5

Button controls: Great. Motion controls: Not so much. Nunchuk balancing stuff: Hideous.

Gameplay
6

Middling platforming and rote combat with some fetch questing thrown in for good measure. Thankfully, the multiplayer stuff is much better.

Lastability
5

If you want to unlock everything, you should strive to find all of the special coins in the main game. Otherwise, there’s not much here.

Final
5

For all of these reasons and more, Kung Fu Panda is belly-up. Go see the movie instead, and thank me later.

Summary

Pros
  • Great writing; Jack Black gives a good performance
  • Lots of interesting combat options
  • Multiplayer game is fun
Cons
  • Combat situations don't allow for much experimentation
  • Interactive cutscenes are atrocious
  • Motion controls are suspect
  • Platforming is awkward and dull
  • Poor graphics and sound
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

D_AverageAugust 07, 2008

Guess I'll scratch this game off the list....

DAaaMan64August 07, 2008

It was on your list?

The real question is, which list are you referring to?

D_AverageAugust 07, 2008

Just a list, must not have been very important, can't seem to find it anywhere....

DAaaMan64August 07, 2008

GLAD to hear you lost it

vuduAugust 07, 2008

This is why you staff members are so damn bitter about Wii games.  You're reviewing crap games instead of playing good ones. 

Cue Silks' obligatory response there are good Wii games??

I own several good Wii games:

Mario Galaxy
Mario Kart
Smash Bros. Brawl
RE4
RE: UC
House of the Dead 1 & 2

Now then. There are other good Wii games? :-D

vuduAugust 07, 2008

Off the top of my head, Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3, Boom Blox, No More Hereos, Zack & Wiki, Fire Emblem, and a crap-ton of last generation ports with enhanced waggle.  I don't mean to turn your Talkbalk thread into a pissing contest, but when you give such an obvious truncated list you're just asking for it.

NinGurl69 *hugglesAugust 07, 2008

Quote from: Halbred

I own several good Wii games:

Mario Galaxy
Mario Kart
Smash Bros. Brawl
RE4
RE: UC
House of the Dead 1 & 2

Now then. There are other good Wii games? :-D

You gonna start another "here's mah game list, give me some cred, yo" thread or something?

That's a pretty weak game list, not to mention just a poor selection overall.  It's no wonder Nintendo and 3rd parties stopped making games for customers like you.  More proof that the Mario Party/Mario Sports/Pokemon/GBA audience is the true core Nintendo audience that helped Nintendo surive the GameCube years.

Someone bring back BONNIE RUBERG.

I forgot about Metroid Prime 3. Great game. I didn't care for Twilight Princess for reasons I won't go into here. And I'm not trying to give myself "street cred" (forum cred?), I'm just saying that the number of Wii games which utilize the Wii's hardware to its fullest (or even near that hypothetical barrier) are far, far, FAR outnumbered by the tidal wave of shovelware.

Like Kung-Fu Panda.

vuduAugust 08, 2008

Quote from: Halbred

I'm just saying that the number of Wii games which utilize the Wii's hardware to its fullest (or even near that hypothetical barrier) are far, far, FAR outnumbered by the tidal wave of shovelware.

Sony has told me a hundred times that no current game has come even close to utilizing the power of the PlayStation 3 to the fullest.  Which leads me to believe that all the games you're looking forward to playing are complete and utter shit.  ;)  Just sayin'.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterAugust 08, 2008

Quote from: Halbred

I forgot about Metroid Prime 3. Great game. I didn't care for Twilight Princess for reasons I won't go into here. And I'm not trying to give myself "street cred" (forum cred?), I'm just saying that the number of Wii games which utilize the Wii's hardware to its fullest (or even near that hypothetical barrier) are far, far, FAR outnumbered by the tidal wave of shovelware.

Like Kung-Fu Panda.

You do realize that Kung Fu Panda was released on EVERY console on the market, right?

You should play it on the PS3, then. It might somehow be more MAGICAL. ;)

EDIT: And Halbred just became the whipping boy of NWR...

Infernal MonkeyAugust 08, 2008

Play the DS version, it's actually a really good 2D platformer (and by 2D I mean it has 3D graphics but whatever).

Zach, stop trolling your own review talkback thread.

NinGurl69 *hugglesAugust 08, 2008

BRING BACK BONNIE

BRING BACK BONNIE

Quote from: vudu

This is why you staff members are so damn bitter about Wii games.  You're reviewing crap games instead of playing good ones. 

Cue Silks' obligatory response there are good Wii games??

Don't drag me into this!

We review crap because we're given crap to review.

When we get a review copy, we review it.  If that weren't the case we wouldn't still be reviewing Mystery Dungeon games.


Zach, you stupid stupid man...

GoldenPhoenixAugust 09, 2008

Quote from: Crimm

We review crap because we're given crap to review.

When we get a review copy, we review it.  If that weren't the case we wouldn't still be reviewing Mystery Dungeon games.


Zach, you stupid stupid man...

I think Wormhead needs to be punished and be forced to play every iteration of Mystery Dungeon and create a feature about it.

vuduAugust 09, 2008

Quote from: Crimm

We review crap because we're given crap to review.

When we get a review copy, we review it.  If that weren't the case we wouldn't still be reviewing Mystery Dungeon games.

Doesn't it make more sense to review games your readers actually care about instead of the ones that publishers send you free copies of?  Are you really worried if you don't review the latest crappy game by Activision they'll stop sending you free crappy games in the future?  Are they ever going to send you a free review copy of GH4?  Then why do you feel obligated to review the free crap they send you?

I just feel a little bad for reviewers because you work so hard playing utterly mediocre games and writing reviews that no one will ever read because they ultimately don't matter.  Your time (and talents) would be better spent on reviews (and features, editorials, etc.) that your community actually care about.

NinGurl69 *hugglesAugust 09, 2008

Like BWii.

DAaaMan64August 09, 2008

They are sent this stuff for free, if they stop reviewing games they are sent, no more games come at all I bet.

KDR_11kAugust 09, 2008

Somebody has to do it, after all there has to be some way of finding out which games are horrible instead of just assuming that not seeing a review means it's bad.

Quote from: NinGurl69

BRING BACK BONNIE

BRING BACK BONNIE

I don't know what Bonnie has to do with anything, but stop this pointless trolling, troll.

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Crimm

We review crap because we're given crap to review.

When we get a review copy, we review it.  If that weren't the case we wouldn't still be reviewing Mystery Dungeon games.


Zach, you stupid stupid man...

I think Wormhead needs to be punished and be forced to play every iteration of Mystery Dungeon and create a feature about it.

I've already played them all, in playing one game in the series.

Shift KeyAugust 10, 2008

Quote from: Silks

The real question is, which list are you referring to?

Nixon's list?

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Kung Fu Panda Box Art

Genre
Developer
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Kung Fu Panda
Release Jun 03, 2008
PublisherActivision
RatingEveryone 10+

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