Game Review: Rag Doll Kung Fu (PC)

Authored October 2005, Originally appeared at GameSpot

In many ways the game really is an achievement.  A single programmer (and I presume some friends) did it and also produced downright hilarious 70’s Kung Fu movie parodies for the cut-scenes.

The game looks and sounds impressive as well – there’s no sense of amateurishness here.  Essentially the game is a side-scrolling brawler.  “Street Fighter” or “Final Fight” style with 3-D characters.

Game play is intriguing and innovative… but, I think flawed.

Learn to Love your Mouse

Firstly, if you’re a precise gamer you’ll HATE this game. Actions are fluid but have a tremendous amount of range – the game is designed to fling the characters around madly, not for surgical strikes.

Essentially it’s a mouse driven game.  Clicking the right button changes the limb (head, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg) that’s in focus (denoted by a thread to a cursor).  Pressing the left button moves that limb (strikes, if possible for example).  If the cursor is a distance away the character will walk or jump towards it.  Characters feet “stick” to the ground when close to it giving them a jerky marionette-style motion.  When moving characters bounce slightly as if on strings.

To attack you must build up “chi”. To do this you have to make small circles with the mouse.  Icons will appear around the cursor indicating the number of attacks you have build up and the character will begin to glow.  In some cases you have to position your characters more exactly.  You can do this by directly clicking and dragging limbs.  For example arms and legs splayed out to the side is one such “fighting stance” learned early on.

In other cases you have to also click the environment.  For example to fly you have to feed your character mushrooms growing around them.  I found this INSANELY tedious since any click near the character affected the character and not the mushroom I was clicking on.  Even when clicking on the mushrooms the character would respond most of the time as well.

Showing my Age

I found these aspects of the game to be rather difficult (and truth be told tiring and painful… my RSI didn’t like this game).  Constantly making little circles with the mouse which clicking both buttons and attempting broader gestures just got old quick for me.

I may still go back to it however.  It really is fun in small doses and very well done.  Also it’s only $13.00 – not bad for a fun, innovative game even if it’s not remotely perfect.  There’s also a multiplayer mode which I’ve yet to try… but which may add value for some people.

It is really interesting how the whole game reflects the sensibilities of “wire-fu” movies.  If you’re a fan you might like the game just for that reason – there’s definitely a love and respect for the genre in this game.  But all told there’s just too mousing for my old bones.

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  1. You’ve iprmessed us all with that posting!

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