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                              Review: Kang Fu
                            By:  Ken Anderson 
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[With additional comments from me at the end of the review, as I have
played Kang Fu as well with a somewhat different outlook than Ken. -Jason]

Kang Fu is another in the growing list of CD-only games, this time from
independent software house Great Effects Development (or GREED as they like
to call themselves).

Playing Klont, the kangaroo (did you guess?), your task is to hop around
the scrolling playfield, jumping on platforms and other creatures,
gathering up your little joeys ("little kangaroos") and finding the exit. 
Of course, you don't get it your own way - there's an odd assortment of
creatures out to stop you; bees, bouncing balls and grotesque axe-wielding
monsters.  However, various weapons lie scattered around for your use,
including the obvious boxing glove.

In other words, it's a platform game.  Classic platform games, such as The
First Samuri, Gods and Robocod have taken the genre in different
directions, introducing puzzles, clever level design and humour.  Sadly,
Kang Fu has none of these qualities: there are too many "leaps of faith",
where the player simply can't tell whether he/she can make it to the next
platform; a missed jump means another two minutes making the way back up
the playfield, no doubt only to miss it again.  Finding the exit is easier
said than done, and the only puzzle elements Kang Fu are of the "find the
key for the lock" variety.

The freedom of CD has been partially exploited by that obligatory backing
music, which isn't that bad.  There's also plenty of high-quality static
pictures for between levels, and even more brightly coloured backgrounds. 
All of these graphics eat up Chip RAM, however, and you'll need at least
1.8Mb continuous graphics memory free before Kang Fu will execute.

The graphics do look gorgeous, though ...  until they move.  The sprites
move smoothly enough, but apart from the main character, there's not nearly
enough frames of animation for each baddie.  This leaves some opponents
looking sped up, and the others positively wooden.  The main character has
all the responsiveness of a dead goldfish, and precision jumping takes an
unnecessary amount of effort.  It's not always immediately obvious where
the platforms are.  Couple this with some dodgy collision detection, we're
talking a bit of a mess all in all.

I'm trying really hard here to find something good to write about Kang Fu,
but I can't.  It DOES look very pretty, and it's professionally produced
and presented.  As with Burnout (AR503), I find it a real shame that
talented coders, graphic artists and musicians put so much effort into
producing something that just isn't playable or addictive at the end of the
day.

Pros: Looks nice.

Cons: Very limited entertainment, poor control and bad level design.  No
hook whatsoever.

---

[And now, a word from the editor...]

Much as I like Ken's writing, he wasn't originally slated to do this
review--I was.  But unfortunately, Kang Fu is one of the products that
sometimes gets shelved and neglected instead of reviewed promptly--which is
what I should be doing.

I did play Kang Fu enough to get a feel for it.  I've read what Ken and our
colleagues have to say.

Everyone is in agreement that Kang Fu is visually very accomplished.  The
player's kangaroo, in particular, is fluidly animated in a variety of
actions.  As platform games go, it's got one of the most elaborate graphics
sets I've ever seen.

Control using a single-button joystick is just about out of the question,
but the game supports a CD32 gamepad and I highly recommend using one.
It's easier to get a feel for what you're trying to do.

Ken's right--the game is often very unforgiving in terms of its jump
distances even on the first level, and because the levels are so large
(particularly across the height, which is a dimension we're less used to
dealing with in platform games) it can be very easy to get lost.  Whose
fault that is, though, is unclear.  Just because the structure is
different doesn't make the game bad.

I don't think the gameplay is really a major problem with Kang Fu--once you
get accustomed to your task, picking up the joeys who look sort of like
escaped convicts, tossing eggs and boomerangs around, it may even grow on
you.  What I think has caused difficulties for reviewers and the acceptance
of the game is the uneven presentation.  The graphics are very pretty and
crisp indeed, so the whimsical sound effects and absolutely ridiculous
enemies and situations (the gun-wielding kangaroo in overalls is a
disturbing sight) make you wonder what, exactly, the game is trying to
accomplish.  It's a blending but not a masterfully executed blending.

Kang Fu is a misunderstood game--misunderstood by its players, and I think
by its designers as well.  -Jason

Kang Fu is distributed by Alter Interservice, Holland. More details from--

Great Effects Developments
Hofwijckplein 46a
2515 RL Den Haag
the Netherlands
fax +32 546-817727
info@greed.nl
http://www.greed.nl