Johnny Kung Fu Review (eShop)
If there is one thing the world needs more of it’s Game & Watch style games. They’ve fallen out of favor since they were first released back in the 1980s as technology has improved, but I still think they’re incredibly fun. I’ve always thought there was something mildly addictive about the simple gameplay combined with the crude “animations” and the bleep/bloop sounds. They all combine into something that reminds me of those games as a child. I had a pretty extensive collection of single screen LCD games and still enjoy playing them for a few minutes every now and then.
UFO Interactive has been pretty busy on the eShop over the last few months with three different titles now available for purchase. They’re latest, Johnny Kung Fu, brings the Game & Watch, single-screen LCD game back and updates it a little bit.
What You Need to Know
Johnny Kung Fu (I accidently typed Johnny Kung Fun twice while writing this) is a single screen brawler. You play as Johnny, a blond haired kid who’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by The Wang Gang, led by the mysterious Mr. Wang. Johnny’s got one hour of real time to save her. To do so you go through 32 levels of the Unethical Financial Operations building. Each level is made up of a single screen that requires you to complete a specific task to move on. Sandwiched in those levels are “Game & Watchy” mini-games . If you lose all of your lives you can continue from the same point, but it will cost you five minutes of your time.
For all intents and purposes this is a love note to the old Game & Watch games. There are brawling levels where you have complete control over Johnny and they make up about half of the levels you’re going to play through. In those levels you have a specific task to complete, such as beating 30 enemies or defeating a specific mini-boss. In between those levels, however, are a number of G&W inspired games. The one you play most often is a Johnny Kung Fu game. In this one you have to dodge bombs and axes thrown at you and then navigate a laser maze (pay attention to the top of the lasers to see which ones are going to shoot). It’s a nice modern look at those old LCD games and really captures the feel of them quite well. There are also other games where you have to do things like juggle a number of bombs or playing a Johnny Kung Fu themed version of Judge.
All of these Game & Watch inspired games do a really good job of recreating the original game they’re based off of and keep the feel of the LCD games despite being brand new. It reminds me how much fun I had with those games and brought back memories of long car rides on vacation, playing LCD versions of Gauntlet and 1942.
There are three bonus unlockables to obtain. One is the main G&W style game from the campaign, complete with a JKF inspired version of Mr. Game & Watch. Another is the same game done with color and 3D layers on the top screen. The last is an infinite version of the modern brawler levels.
The newer, single-screen, brawling levels are fun. The action is quick and you can unlock combos that add to your move list bringing some variety to the combat. However, the enemies themselves are all very generic and there are only a handful of different types. Each level will be made up of 20-50 clones of the same enemy over and over, so once you know the exact way to beat them just repeat that and these stages will be a breeze.
I was also able to completely break the boss battles once I learned the uppercut move. It was simply a matter of uppercutting them until they were on the edge of the screen and just doing that one move every time they stood up. The boss battles didn’t really pose any challenge and were disappointing because of it.
Johnny Kung Fu is a really good homage to the old LCD screen games. Younger players may not appreciate them because they didn’t grow playing this type of game. Older fans may really enjoy going back to their childhood for a while. The older, inspired games are really fun and you’ll probably find yourself drawn to those after you unlock them for play. The newer levels bring the experience down a bit because of the repetitiveness and the ease at which you can completely break the experience. If nothing else, it’s nice to have new Game & Watch games, but it’s hard to justify those on their own. If you understand going in you’re essentially getting new versions of those games then you’re going to have fun. If you’re looking for more, you might be a bit disappointed.
Review copy of the game purchased in the 3DS eShop.
Played through the game once.
Played way more of the bonus unlockable games than I should have.
Total Play Time: 5 hours