Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors is the second game based on the wildly successful animated film, Kung Fu Panda. While the original game was produced to coincide with the theatrical release, Legendary Warriors was quickly pushed out to go along with the film's DVD release. And it shows.
In fairness, I never played the first game, but after watching the movie, I was excited to start Legendary Warriors. A memorable cast of kung fu fighting cartoon characters and an advertised beat-'em-up style of gameplay sounded like a next generation release of Turtles in Time. Queue the disappointment.
While the game promises an "all-new" adventure, the story isn't all that different than the film. It begins with the evil Tai Lung escaping from prison, and now he wants to capture the Furious Five in order to steal their powers and become the greatest fighter in the world. There are a bunch of rabbits involved for some arbitrary reason, but it's up to Po and company to ruin Tai Lung's dastardly plan.
The visuals aren't terrible. All of the characters are easily recognizable, and the game is bright and colorful. However, it's too simplistic. The characters are a bit rough around the edges and the cut scenes are just nice looking drawings that barely move and don't invest the player in the action of the game. With such a beautifully stylized film, there's no excuse for not having that carry over to the game.
The sound in Legendary Warriors is also pretty simple, but somewhat more effective. The voice actors did a commendable job of replicating the voices from the film, and there are plenty of kung fu sounds to go around. The soundtrack of Chinese-inspired tunes is decent, but as with the rest of the audio, repetition quickly fades into annoyance.
The gameplay really seals the fate of this lackluster title. In each level, the character is placed in the middle of a small map with a seemingly endless number of enemies, followed by a boss battle that barely differs from the dozens of baddies the player just took down. Then there's an uneventful cut-scene and a mini-game that requires the player to shake or maneuver the Wii remote in some way. Repeat.
The controls definitely don't add to the experience, either. Players can flip the controls in different ways, with different buttons, to perform various attacks, but soon it sinks in that all it takes to win is to shake like crazy. Honestly, I sat the remote down on the washing machine during the spin cycle while making a sandwich and I made it through two levels.
With enough attacks, the character can build up "chi" for special attacks, but only if the player can draw the Chinese symbol on the screen. That said, there doesn't seem to be a correlation between the motion of the remote and whether the attack is a success. In fact, players will never feel as though they're fully in control during Legendary Warriors.
There are a few different modes to play, including versus mode and a co-op mode for up to four players. However, there is really no reason to force any friends or family members to participate in this game. Maybe friends that are prone to seizures, they could do quite well. Characters can be unlocked with multiple play-throughs, but why bother?
Sure, the game was designed for kids, so I can overlook some of the over-simplified and repetitive graphics, sound and even story, but the gameplay is just awful. It took a lot of frustrating effort and waggling to make it through Legendary Warriors and it surely won't hold a child's attention for too long before it ends up on the shelf.