This is a full game? Really?
Thatâ€™s what I asked myself after playing a couple of levels of Kung Fu Rider. Surely I was missing something â€” but many rounds later, I kept coming back to that first thought. Even for a launch title of new hardware, this is pretty bare-bones stuff. But more importantly than that, itâ€™s also pretty rubbish. Kung Fu Rider is a bland disaster. Thereâ€™s no other way of putting it. Actually, there probably is: itâ€™s like a slow-motion train wreck as seen through a beige filter.
At its core, Kung Fu Rider is a downhill racer. Youâ€™ll be swerving to avoid obstacles in your way, jumping to acquire bonus items, and trying to get to the end as quickly as possible. The flimsy-yet-sort-of-awesome premise for this? Youâ€™re on the run from a bunch of mafia/Triad/Yakuza/whatever goons, and need to escape their clutches... on a wheeled office chair.
Itâ€™s insane in a very Japanese way, but unfortunately its crazy-fun setup doesnâ€™t bear fruit in any other section of the game. Besides what you see on the menu screen, thereâ€™s no sense of story, no overarching narrative (however flimsy) to tie together the disparate, stand-alone levels.
That would be absolutely fine if the core gameplay was any good â€” off-kilter games like Crazy Taxi, for example, didnâ€™t let much get in the way of its basic goals. But â€” and you can probably guess what Iâ€™m going to say here â€” the gameplay in Kung Fu Rider just isnâ€™t fun. It lacks depth and variety, yes, but whatâ€™s worse is that it lacks Move controls that arenâ€™t completely flawed. This is one of those motion-controlled titles that weâ€™ve seen many times over on the Wii: games that would have worked just fine with an analog stick and some buttons, but now suffer with inaccurate and unresponsive gesture-based controls.
In theory, it works like this: pump the Move controller up and down to accelerate; raise it into the air to jump; lower it to duck; tilt it to the sides to steer; and poke forwards to boost. In practice, itâ€™s kind of a mess to control. You get better over time, but even after a number of levels I was still finding it hard to navigate tracks with any sense of confidence â€” in particular, jumping and accelerating were often annoyingly interchangeable. When the input device in your hand canâ€™t reliably produce the actions you want, how can the game remain fun?
I wonâ€™t spend much on the overall structure of the game, because itâ€™s both basic and dull. New levels mean new obstacles and greater difficulties. You can get rated on levels, possibly encouraging you to replay them, but good luck with that. New types of chairs and the like can be acquired, but again, who really cares?
Kung Fu Rider feels like it should have been one of the forgotten demos on that Move Starter Pack disc. Paying even $60 for this is just outrageous. The Move hardware is great â€” software like this is drivel. Come on guys, I know every hardware launch always has its duds, but surely some lessons could have been learned from the last four years of Wii shovelware? New Move owners: donâ€™t buy this game.