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Fight as Po the Panda and the Furious Five through 13 levels of this decent action platformer with appealing multiplayer modes.

Nintendo Wii Review: Kung Fu Panda

Players fight as Po the Panda and the Furious Five (Monkey, Tigress, Viper, Mantis and Crane) through 13 levels of this action platformer. The developers also include strong co-op and competitive multiplayer modes for up to four players. At least one of the original movie voice actors, James Hong, makes an appearance, though the mimicking voice talents of the main characters are very good.

The game has a nice depth in the interactivity and different vertical levels of the environments, but the graphics in this version are noticeably lacking compared to the Xbox 360 console version. The basic storyline basically follows the movie. Players must stop Tai Lung from taking the Dragon Scroll to gain power and destroy the community. A few bosses along the way also provide some challenges, but players who haven’t experienced the movie won’t get as much out of the game.

The single player mode features an assortment of punches, kicks and special moves realized through some creative controls, including motion sensing. The standard B button attack is a reliable default attack while the power punch has a bit of delay, but enemies usually line up nicely for it. Z button blocks are the only counter moves. Double jumps (A button twice) can get you out of some dangerous situations. The developers even add a few unique touches (e.g. stand on something for a while and see what happens).

The advanced moves are impressive (Panda Stumble) and funny (Panda Quake) and create some challenges when actually executing them in battle. Players can even just wave the wiimote around randomly to get out of tough situations. The nunchuk controller gets plenty of use in balancing situations and Crane’s flying, but mainly movement – a standard setup for most current Wii platform games. Unlike the balancing movements, jumping physics don’t always follow expected movements, which creates a little learning curve.

Players can advance quickly in the standard easy, medium or hard difficulties by completing enough objectives to move on. The wise Shifu provides plenty of assistance well within the flow of the action. After advancing deep in single player mode players can unlock several items for multiplayer mode, which also have a great variety of mini games including fights, a memory game and a variation of mahjong.

The game transitions could be smoother, like inconsistent respawns from saved checkpoints. It could also use more music, especially in multiplayer mode. Total completion of goals, side missions, and acquiring all items provide some incentive for repeat plays, but once around seemed to fit. A great multiplayer mode and the ability to fight as multiple characters really adds to the overall appeal.

Kung Fu Panda is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence and Mild Language. This game can also be found on: Nintendo DS, PC, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360.


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