Kung Fury: Street Rage – Review

Title   Kung Fury: Street Rage
Developer  Hello There AB
Publisher  Hello There AB
Platform  iOS, Android (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Windows PC
Genre  Beat-em-up
Release Date  May 28, 2015 / August 11, 2015 (PS4)

I’ll warn you now – this is going to be a short review.  Very short, in fact.  Not because the game is bad, but because of its premise. For those of you who aren’t yet aware, Kung Fury is a Kickstarter-funded short movie which pokes fun at 1980s’ cop/buddy/martial arts genres.  In fact, ‘pokes fun’ doesn’t quite do it justice, but there are no real words to convey its beautiful ridiculousness and David Hasselhoff-sung theme song.  Its over-the-top action and tongue-in-cheek approach to practically everything ever makes it a great platform for a video game, if done properly.

As someone who spent most of his childhood in the arcades, toiling over which cabs would get his pittance of pocket money, Kung Fury: Street Rage does spark a great many memories.  From the not-so-subtle intro through to the ‘insert coin’ screen, and the pixelated and scanline-riddled aesthetic, this is retro worship at its best.  Even the pause screen is a piss-take of the old blue screen of death, and when you finally quit you get to enjoy something akin to those scenes in dodgy movies where someone’s system shuts down from hacking.  They’ve genuinely thought of everything that a retro gamer would appreciate, shoe-horned it in, and ramped it up to eleven.

The gameplay is beyond simple, and those of you who have poured any time into any of Rocksteady’s Batman series will immediately be familiar with the timing-based score multiplier.  You have but two controls – tap either the left or right of the screen.  Enemies will come at you from both sides while you stand in front of your (obligatory red gloss) Lamborghini Countach and tackle them as they approach you.  There is no way for you to determine which of your numerous moves you’ll use with each assailant as the game will randomly take care of this for you.

All this is done while holding on to all three of your lives for as long as you can, and the longer you last… the greater your score.  The temptation is certainly there to mash the hell out of the screen in order to ensure that each one gets taken out before landing a blow, but it’s not that easy.  First of all, not all of your attackers will fall from a single blow, which means that they’ll have an opportunity to retaliate if you’re still close enough, and some will perform a special move and appear elsewhere as soon as you even try, which leaves you open to attack from whomever was behind them as you’ll now be within their immediate range.

To further compound this, your score multiplier not only increases if you manage to keep up a flawless defence, but any misses on your part will result in a considerable drop.  The touch-screen equivalent of button-mashing is therefore out of the question.  An example would be one particular session where I’d managed to last my longest before being killed, only to realise that I hadn’t even scored a fifth of what my highest score was at that point.  This caused me to pay a lot more attention to what was going on, and that’s when I realised that your score jumped massively if you were able to keep the multiplier going to twenty, but my button-mashing escapade meant that I wasn’t getting beyond two or three as the next would invariably miss.

Kung Fury: Street Rage is a score whore, plain and simple.  There’s no real storyline, at least not in the game itself, and no goal in sight.  It harkens back to the traditional arcade cabs where the only real goal was to stay alive and pick up more points than the person currently at the top of the high-score table.  It’s repetitive in a glorious way, camp as hell, but with that single backdrop and nothing whatsoever to shake things up it has to fall into that oft-pissed-upon category of ‘promotional license tie-in’ where its entire purpose is to promote the IP behind it.  And, much like those web-based disposable gamevertisements it’s just as easy to put it down and forget about it was it was to pick up and play in the first place.

You have three choices: play Kung Fury: Street Rage for an hour before getting  a bit bored by it, play it for half an hour and use the other half to enjoy the thirty-minute-long-movie, or just avoid both.  Your life won’t be affected by any of those choices.

  • Camp as hell
  • Great sense of nostalgia
  • Nice little nods to the era (scanlines, pixelation, Lambos)
  • Very simple mechanics
  • No change in backdrop throughout the entire game
  • Nothing beyond being a score chase
  • Repetitive as hell, and not in a good way
  • Lacks the humour of the movie it's based on
  • Costs £3.99 in the UK PSN and only $1.99 in the US (£1.25)

What Kung Fury: Street Rage should have been is a humour-filled homage to its original IP and to the era from which it came. While it does certainly cater in some ways, it's massively let down by the lack of effort that has actually gone into producing it. Even as a coder (albeit not games) I know that this could have been knocked up in a matter of hours, and it's a shame that this actually shows.

This could have ended up being a great game if they'd only included different scenarios, a more varied group of enemies, and even introduced genuine gameplay beyond either left or right. With end-level bosses, a big man at the end, enemies which change with each backdrop, and planned moves this could have been an easy 8, rather than a sloppy 5.

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One Comment

  1. Richie rich says:

    Looks gash. I was tempted initially.

    Stick to MAME and Kung Fu Master.

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