Okay everyone, you can stop saying that there are no hardcore games for Kinect, because Kung-Fu High Impact is as hardcore as they come.
Kung-Fu High Impact, the awesomely-named video game from the equally awesomely-named developer Virtual Air Guitar Company, casts you as the hero of a comic book, pitting you against hordes of dastardly henchmen and otherworldly monsters. Oh yeah, also ninjas.
Kung-Fu High Impact takes the basic idea of Photo Dojo on DSiWare and expands on it a hundred fold. Rather than using images of yourself as sprites in this 2D beat-‘em-up, Kinect places you right in the middle of the action on your screen. You’re not controlling a premade character or your avatar; you yourself are the star of this show. Your attacks are only limited by your own physical abilities, as any punch and kick you perform in your living room is effective against your opponents.
The story of the game is basic comic book fare, but the appeal of the campaign isn’t the story: it’s seeing yourself in the comic’s panels. Before each chapter, the game gives you certain poses to perform, then will place you right in the cutscenes. It’s better in theory than in practice, unfortunately; if your skin tone doesn’t sharply contrast with your surroundings, parts of you will be cropped out. Still, it’s a good way to make you feel more involved in the story.
The gameplay itself is incredibly frenetic and will give you a workout that will rival any fitness game. You’ll have lots of enemies coming after you, so you’ll be throwing plenty of punches and kicks. The best offence is a good defence, however, and you’ll be ducking, jumping, blocking and flipping as well. Later on you earn special powers, like the ability to shoot lighting and cause an earthquake by punching the ground, that you activate with special motions.
You will get tired. You will get sweaty. You’ll probably wind up breaking things in your living room. Despite the physical demands of Kung-Fu High Impact’s gameplay, you’re going to have a great time. Any slob can hit a button to throw a punch; it takes a real man to step into the game and throw those punches himself.
Aside from the story mode, there are also various survival modes themed around certain enemy classes, as well as a multiplayer mode that lets up to four of your friends grab controllers and take control of the enemies while you try to outlast them. Asymmetrical gameplay is always fun if done right, and while multiplayer is rather stale with only two people, throwing more into the mix will ramp up both the difficulty for the main player and the fun for those with controllers.
Kung-Fu High Impact isn’t all punching ninjas and monsters in the face, though; while the gameplay mechanics are incredibly fun, they don’t necessarily work all the time. Sometimes you’ll desperately try to do a backflip to avoid danger but the game just doesn’t interpret your movements the right way. Several of the enemies are also extremely problematic; the second level introduces enemies with spears that must be jumped over, but you better make sure you’re actually jumping high enough otherwise your life bar will deplete very quickly. Flying enemies and some of the giant bosses are a pain as well, as you don’t really have a whole lot of aerial attacks in your arsenal.
Video games are all about having fun, and despite the occasional problems with motion detection, Kung-Fu High Impact is simply a blast to play. It’s a big purveyor of “one more level” syndrome, which is quite impressive in a game as physically demanding as this. Despite the aches and pains, you’ll endure them to keep playing.
Kung-Fu High Impact combines a very unique and fun gameplay mechanic with a great sense of humor and enjoyable presentation. Don’t let the wacky look of the game fool you, though, because this game is HARD. HardCORE, even. Anyone looking for a Kinect game with an edge will certainly walk away from Kung-Fu High Impact feeling satisfied, and probably more than a bit sore.