|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
If the platforming doesn't throw the little ones for a loop, the lack of clear objectives likely will. For the experienced gamer, figuring out what to do at various points in the game is often an exercise in frustration. For younger gamers, this could mean simply giving up on the experience altogether.
Luckily, the levels are short, as is the entire game. Those folks who actually purchase Kung Fu Panda DS will be glad to see the experience wrap up quickly, as the majority of the level design feels uninspired and often poorly executed. Most gameplay elements are lifted right out of classics, such as Metroid or Super Mario Galaxy; however, it's clear the inspiration here was not to make a fun game, but rather to cash in on a movie franchise.
Unfortunately, though the game is indeed quite short, much of its length is stretched out via backtracking. Thankfully, you'll frequently gain new moves to help you make your way back without having to re-navigate previous platforming portions. But when the levels aren't necessarily fun to begin with, going through them a second or third time doesn't help to endear fans to the game.
In the same way the gameplay comes off as somewhat slapped together, the graphics, sound, and overall presentation seem to have had little love injected into them. Kung Fu Panda DS uses a decent 3D-graphics engine, but the finished product looks quite rough around the edges - the term "rushed" comes to mind. Surprisingly, however, the game contains a host of voice work, quite a bit from the movie's main star, Jack Black. However, even Jack Black fans will find his acting to be less than convincing. As with pretty much everything else that went into the game, Black's voice work sounds like well, it sounds like work.
Vicarious Visions (Kung Fu Panda DS' developer) have churned out some decent portable games in the past, even a decent movie-based game here and there (see Over the Hedge DS). Kung Fu Panda DS, however, isn't one of the developers' finest products; it's really not even recommended for fans of the movie. The game is short, there are no multiplayer options, no extras, and little reason to come back to Kung Fu Panda DS after its completion. It does, however, offer some mildly enjoyable, beat`em-up fun, but you'll have to venture through a lot of frustrating platforming, as well as senseless backtracking, to get at it. Overall, the package is perhaps a poster child for what we've come to know as the typical, uninspired, fast-food gaming of movie tie-ins. If the game were priced relative to fast food, Kung Fu Panda DS might be worth a look for fans of the movie. But at the premium price, gamers are advised to save their cash.
CCC Freelance Writer