by Jason Clement
reviewed on NDS
A Different Kind of RPG (cont.)
There is also a rock-paper-scissors element in play, where different attacks will do more or less damage on different enemies depending on the color that is applied to them (either red, yellow, or blue). However, the battles are far too easy for the most part. Many of Po's and his partner's attacks are overpowered (especially the special attacks), so the battles can often be over before the enemy gets a chance to strike. Because of this, I rarely had to use any items (save for bosses), let alone buy them in the different shops throughout the game.
A Glimmer of Hope
The best thing the game has going for it is a minigame called "5 Card Fu" that you'll occasionally play against NPCs. Basically, it's a card game played on a 3 x 3 card field in which you take turns with your opponent to place down a card that contains numbers (anywhere from 1-9) on each of the four sides of the card. The objective lies with placing a card that has a higher or equal number right next to an adjacent opponent's card with an equal or lesser value. If your card's number is greater, you capture the card and receive one point; if it's equal to the number, you capture the card and gain two points. Whoever gains the most points at the end, wins. It's not the most complex game ever, but there is some strategy to be had while playing it, as you progressively attain better cards to play with throughout your adventure. You can even play it against someone else who has a DS and a copy of Kung Fu Panda 2 if you fancy playing multiplayer.
The graphics in the battle mode are decent for a DS game, but nothing remarkable. Po and his comrades are rendered in 3D along with the battlefield and enemies, and although there are occasional hiccups in the framerate, the animation isn't too shabby. The problem with it though is that most of the attacks look the same when they are performed, lending to a "been there done that" vibe when you try out new attacks and skills. As far as sound goes, there isn't too much to say because there aren't too many music tracks in the game and none of them stand out at all (in fact, one is downright irritating to hear after a while). However, it was nice to hear sound clips of the different characters included, but they only sound off during battles and when playing Five Card Fu. Because of this, I can't help but feel that Griptonite really missed an opportunity to have voicework for each of the characters during the cutscenes. It would've brought some much needed life to an otherwise dull experience as you tap on the screen in order to advance the conversations between characters.
Missing the Mark
After the excellent first game, I was expecting Kung Fu Panda 2 to be just as good, if not better. Instead, what I got was a confusing, less-than-mediocre game with half-baked concepts and a mildly entertaining mini-game. I admire the fact that Griptonite tried to do something different with this game, but I get the feeling that kids will be easily bored by the fact that this is more of a selection and turn-based game than an interactive action game. Plus, there's simply too much reading during the cutscenes, and the world map can be utterly confusing when trying to figure out where to go next, not to mention the fact that there is no action outside of the generic and repetitive battles. Kids don't want a point-and-click, turn-based RPG game; they want to actually be Po and be able to control him, not guide him, and Kung Fu Panda 2 fails not only in that aspect, but as an interesting game overall. If you're looking for an entertaining kids game, stick to the first Kung Fu Panda, because this one ultimately fails to deliver.
Five Card Fu minigame is marginally fun. Game is a decent length for a movie tie-in
Battles are mediocre and enemy designs are generic, Music is irritating, Story is uninteresting