Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu

Hudson Soft

A lot of Turbo owners are very fond of this game, but I've never viewed it as anything more than a slightly above average platformer. There are mellow tunes, appealing visual elements, and a wide variety of bonus rounds to enjoy as Jackie kicks and jabs his way through a strange, cartoony realm, but the stage strips are too hit or miss to add up to a good experience on the whole.

The second level's lava section features great action the likes of which the game should offer more of. You contend with fire birds, flame serpents, flying eyeballs, rocks that crumble beneath your feet, strongmen who shake the ground with their staves, and sorcerers who hurl fireballs your way, all while dealing with the actual platforming and avoiding the lava itself. But then comes Stage 3, in which you make a tedious ascent on slow-moving platforms while evading fat fish and other such riffraff before embarking on a mess of a rapids ride.

The feast-or-famine nature of the affair drops it to an action-gaming tier lower than the level on which its finest moments suggest it should reside. Playing through the game has its rewards, but the idea of making return trips is never very enticing, as the feeling of wasted potential lingers.

Lots of cool enemies reside in Stage 2's fiery caverns; but Stage 3, with its routine platforming and sloppy river ride, is a low point.

The final stage is the most erratic of the bunch, as it features lots of nice ideas at work (a playfield-shaking giant and a contingency of dragons populate stretches not to be forgotten) but also contains plenty of unnecessary platforming sequences that drag it out for what seems like an eternity.

The bonus rounds are fun, simple kick-and-leap-based ways to rack up continues and keep Jackie in good shape.

The silhouette effect looks really nice. I think an even cooler unexpected element is the bird swooping down and snatching fish from the lake.

The giant pink cyclops is the game's signature villain. The enchanted frog isn't quite as memorable.

Don't expect technique-driven martial-arts showdowns here.

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