Everybody Was kung f-I CAN'T DO IT!! na na nana na na na na naaa

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Just as the title suggests, Ragdoll Kung Fu is awesome. In the same way that Kosher sausage and spaceships crewed by sentient lemurs are awesome. I downloaded it from the PSN not long ago, figuring that with a price tag of "FREE!" I'd at the very least get my money's worth. What I got was one of the most entertaining little games I've played in a long time.

The premise is simple. Your character is a doll figure, complete with plasticine shine and large circular joints. The character movement is somewhere between a marionette and your old action figures. Your various pieces can be swapped and customized however you like.

The game plays a little like smash brothers. Every character has the same move set, and items like Nunchucks and throwing stars regularly fall from the sky. The controls mix standard punch and kick moves with Little Big Planet like free posing arms and grabbing mechanics.

Unfortunately, the game is all too short on content. The single player experience consists of several challenges made to familiarize you with the various controls and modes. Capture the Fish is a sort of basketball-esque and involves throwing large green, squishy fish into a basket. There's even a dodge ball mode with a persistent ball that can kill you in one hit if moving fast enough. There's a straight up death match mode and finally a King of the hill mode that has you struggling for the high ground against your opponents. Each game type can be played with up to 3 other people locally.

It makes for a great party game, Watching your character flail about the screen with a staff is somehow always hilarious. The motion controls add a sort of frantic energy to the matches. Shake the controller to power up a Chi lightning ball to hurl at your opponents. Hold the punch or kick button and jerk the controller to hurl yourself in that direction like a fettuccine rocket. Four player battle can get a little hectic mostly because there often isn't enough room in the arenas for you t ever get away from the action.

Some might say it's a touch racist, but I'd say it's no more so than the "Hebrew Hammer" or "Shaft." Sure they're all about stereotypes and the characters were caricatures, but no one was ever meant to take any of it seriously. It's a farce, a parody, walking the line at the edge of satire.

Everything from the character design and arenas to the music and the art style is a send up of the already outrageous kung fu movies of the 70's and eighties. If you've seen "Fantasy Mission Force" you have a rough idea of how outlandish the setting can be. No, there are no haunted mansions or Nazis driving Ford LTD's but it's still insane.

It's the delirious, frenetic style that gives Ragdoll Kung Fu it's charm. It's far more accessible than the 2005 original and is easy to pick up and play for a few hours. I'd recommend grabbing it if you get the chance. Hiro, I'm looking at you. Train your Kung Fu so we might meet in the arena!