Legendary Warriors delivers a short and sweet brawler but is held back by often unnecessary gameplay elements.
Kung Fu Panda is a Dreamworks CG animation film that takes place in a Chinese village and features anthropomorphic animals. At the end of the film, Po, the Panda, becomes the true dragon warrior and is able to defeat the evil Tai Lung, thus saving the village and world from his terror. Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors for the DS is an action platformer that brings us back to the world of kung fu masters.
Legendary Warriors takes place shortly after the events in the movie. Tai Lung has returned with his minions and is trying to kidnap the Furious Five in order to acquire the chi and energy that they possess for his own use. It is up to Po and Tigress, one of the Furious Five, to stop Tai Lung once again.
The gameplay is simple. Po and Tigress each have their own set of stages that can be completed in any order. Each stage involves going through an entire level, fighting bad guys and trying to collect orbs and secret tokens along the way. You can get points by building up a combo meter and collecting orbs. Each level also has a rating out of five stars, so the more points you get the better your rating will be. The rating system establishes goals for players, but they can always go back to a level to attain an even higher score.
The immersive visuals and sound bring life to Po's world. This 3D engine is one of the best I’ve ever seen on the DS. Chinese structures and plant life are drawn with great detail, as are the characters. The animations are smooth and pleasant to watch, with a mostly consistent frame rate. There are a few hiccups here and there, but only if too many objects and enemies are flying around the screen. And even though the voices aren't done by the original actors and actresses, they sound pretty close. Sounds of kicks and punches sound real alongside breaking wooden tables and chairs. It could have used some catchier music: it becomes tiring after awhile.
Po and Tigress each have their own set of attacks and combos. Each are executed with a sequence button presses, and you unlock more as you progress through the game. These attacks range from quick to heavy. Some combos launch enemies into the air, while others end with a special move similar to Chun Li’s rapid kicks. Overall, the combo system provides a nice variety.
What I found boring were the unnecessary platforming sequences. When going through a level, there were instances where an occasional gap of water must be jumped over to continue. There’s no telling at which point to jump because the spacing between platforms differs from level to level. I found myself falling into the water several times because of it. At other moments you needed to use the stylus to lower an object that is vital to crossing. Having to stop and do all of this haphazard platforming just to get to more action brakes up the flow of the game.
The only redeeming stylus control involves the use of chi powers. After completing a certain number of stages you unlock the ability to perform special moves. These moves are performed by drawing a specific symbol on the screen. Some are quite intricate, so they can take more than a few strokes. Mastering the symbols rewards you with fancier moves that do more damage.
All gripes aside, Legendary Warriors is a nicely formed package that does a good job of continuing the movie's story. If you’re a fan of the movie you will definitely get a kick out of this. Who couldn’t use a bit more panda?