Monday, June 2, 2014

SC On Kung Fu Rider (PS3)

Ladies and gentlemen, the pride of the Playstation Move.

There is only one place I can possibly start with this game, and that's how I got it in the first place.  I was at an EB Games in Canada with some of the other RiverCityGamers guys when I saw this with a couple price tags slapped over the top of each other.  The most visible tag said $0.49.  Yup, I paid around 50 Canadian cents for this game ($0.46 in USD).  That's not the worst part, though; it was a new copy.

A new copy.  For 50 cents.  Of course, it also requires a Move controller and camera/sensor, which can cost upwards of too damn much.  Thanks to AngelHalo for supplying both for the brief period I/we could tolerate this game.

The idea of the game is that private investigator Toby (the guy on the box art)and his secretary Karin (below) are stuck in Hong Kong, running for their lives from the Triads (for simplification's sake, the Chinese mafia).  The two split up to make a break for their escape vehicle, a.k.a. the "finish line" for every level, by riding through the (all conveniently downhill) streets of Hong Kong on whatever they can find, usually things like desk chairs and wheeled luggage.

"Ma'am!  Wait!  You dropped your dignity!"
 The idea is to get through each stage by riding around or ducking under obstacles, jumping over obstacles, grinding on rails (it looks as dumb as it sounds), and using "kung fu" moves, most of which equate to spastic flailings that sort of end in a kick, to take out various suit-clad Triad clones waiting in the streets.  The enemies are only slightly varied in that some of them run at you and try to punch you, some push obstacles into your way (most of which don't do anything), and some of the less mobile ones have tonfas or bo staffs to swing at you.  It's okay, though.  One kung fu move or even one piece of the environment tapping any part of their body causes them to go into an instant rag doll state.
Strange hit detection makes the flimsy enemies matter very little, though.  Running into an enemy sometimes knocks Toby over and sometimes it doesn't.  Slightly grazing the side of a parked car can send Toby flying, but slamming directly into a wall doesn't.  I've had Toby rag doll and scream bloody murder at hitting his foot on a traffic cone at roughly half speed, but stay on his chair after having a trash can thrown at his head.  There is less consistency in the hit detection than there are exclusive games on the XBox One, and considering you can only take four or five hits before having to start a level over, this becomes tiring very, very quickly.

Office chair racing.  It's a thing which is more entertaining than Kung Fu Rider.

Get used to not just seeing the same three or four enemies over and over, but also the same four or five levels.  While the game has at least 18 stages to it, it doesn't take more than six to realize that the game is reusing levels while making minor changes to enemy and object placements.   As such, you might think that it is pretty simply to navigate through each of these stages, having played all of them several times by the end of the game.

Nope.  After all, I deliberately held off on mentioning the controls to this point.

Above: the amount of space you should have around you when playing this game.

The controls assigned to buttons on the Move controller function well enough.  The problems there have more to do with hit detection and boundaries than anything else, especially when it doesn't register grinds or registers them from several feet away.

Motion controls, however, are an absolute chore to use.  Pushing forward to accelerate and doing a mad dash forward are assigned to similar motions, so there were innumerable times where I'd try to get a little speed and end up charging chair-first into a wall.  Jumping sometimes didn't work at all or registered as a dash.  The worst was having to recalibrate the controller every few levels or so because Toby would get stuck leaning right and going in circles for seemingly no reason.

You know what?  Why even have the chair?  Toby gets off of it to do his dash move, so why not just have the game be Toby running around smacking mobsters with traffic cones?  It- oh, right, that's how the two-player works.

No, Dad!  No!
Two player co-op has one person controlling Toby/Karin and the other person playing as a floating hand that collects money (used for getting other rides of varying stats, few of which matter) and, more importantly, grabs parts of the environment to move aside or hit/throw at people.  AngelHalo took on this role when we finished the game in what felt like a whole night, but turned out to be an hour and a half, if that.  He would grab a traffic cone, cart, or anything else he could find and just hold it up on screen.  Anyone that touched it would go limp.  Most of the time.  Maybe.  Let's say 8 out of 10 times.

There are other (recycled) levels where you can collect medals around the course, but it's hardly worth the effort to play through the game at all.  There's little to no reason this game couldn't be mapped to a PS3 controller and release as a somewhat more playable, but still not worth the effort title.  If I never hear Toby say "I hope Karin will be alright!" in his voice-cracking shriek before every level begins, it will be too soon.

Pandas eat bamboo.  Toby the teddy mistakes it for a Move controller.