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Kung Fu Panda

For: Mobile

Prepare for awesomeness?

Product: Kung Fu Panda | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 696KB | Reviewed on: D900 other handsets | Version: Europe
Kung Fu Panda Mobile, thumbnail 1
For those who've been hiding in a Shaolin temple for the past year, Kung Fu Panda is the latest digital creation from DreamWorks set to take on the mighty Pixar in the ever-continuing CGI dance-off that is the summer blockbuster season.

We've seen more creature-based animated capers than you can shake a video renderer's external hard-drive at and Kung Fu Panda is yet another entrée in the canonical feast. However, in the backroom of our minds carpeted in gooey cynicism, I think we'd all like to believe that at some board meeting, some over-paid exec has insisted that the number of views the famous 'Panda Sneezing' video on Youtube got was a sure sign that a panda flick couldn't fail.

Oh yes, pandas are most certainly 'in' this season.

Following in the solid but unimaginative footfalls of its cinematic father, Kung Fu Panda is a solid but unimaginative side-scrolling platformer. In it you get to take on the role of the two main characters in the ten game levels. Well, actually you get to play as three different characters, but you won't discover that until you finish the game. Oops.

Kung Fu Panda on mobile shows off the solidity of its platforming engine by leaping fairly effortlessly through moderately variable gameplay styles between levels. Sure, there's nothing remotely ground-breaking here but the ease with which the game mixes pure run-and-jump levels alongside those so combat-based that they're verging on a standalone one-on-one beat-'em-up like Street Fighter II demonstrates quite how well the simple controls have been tweaked around for the keypad.

Other levels, meanwhile, ask to you collect a certain number of pick-ups and escape from a tower, amongst the expected mix of platform gaming favourites such as jumping, running and miscellaneous kung fu-flavoured bashing.

Also predictable, perhaps, are the number of collectible 'Paws of power' symbols in each level, which you must collect fully in order to unlock another playable character. Doing so, like most of the game, isn't particularly challenging, but it's enough to draw you back into each of the levels for another run-through. Aside from the reasonably challenging final boss fight, Kung Fu Panda has a pleasurably breezy and forgiving feel that's well-judged considering the film's core audience.

I can't be quite so positive about the structure, though. Even if it is at one with the cut-and-paste scene style of the modern movie, the ten levels aren't quite enough to make a convincing patchwork quilt out of the various level styles. The double boss fight at the end is particularly clumsy, for example. Even if it's a direct transplant from the film, it's only another example of why the two worlds of games and film shouldn't always have to intersect as closely as the technology allows.

The game's good looks are an intersection to be less ashamed of, mind. Sure, the sprites aren't rendered using the same software as the film characters – nothing quite so pretentious. However, the likenesses are enjoyably detailed, with nicely animated sprites that should please fans of the film.

Even if an aversion to all things rendered in computer fur – or perhaps just the lead voice actor Jack Black – means you won't be heading for the box office to catch DreamWorks' latest, or if you've been left feeling jaded by the legion of polished platformers of the last few years, this is by no means a bad choice. It's a little short and the pacing jars somewhat, with occasional gaming gear changes that squeal away like an old banger on its last legs, but Kung Fu Panda remains a mostly accomplished and fun slice of professional programming that certainly does its licence proud.
Kung Fu Panda
Reviewer photo
Andrew Williams | 23 June 2008
With varied levels and smooth controls, Kung Fu Panda offers about a film's length of fun for those who enjoyed the movie
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