Becoming known as a master of motion games takes years of practice and perseverance.
You must have energy... to flail your limbs around for long stretches of time. You must have heart... to withstand the insults, jibes, and laughter of your peers. You must be driven... to play through some pretty crappy games. Mastering Kung Fu LIVE requires energy, heart, and drive as well, though for different reasons.
[image1]Kung-Fu LIVE's set-up isn't all that hard to understand. You use the PlayStation Eye to put yourself in the pages of a Kung-Fu comic book. Any action you make in real life can be translated into an attack of fury and vengeance on screen. While the tutorial voice-over might be about as offensive as your white friend's Jackie Chan impersonation, everything is kept within the realm of parody. Even the developer's press material encourages the moronic imitation kung-fu Bruce Lee fans have been doing for years.
You'll start the main game by posing for a few pictures which are placed directly into the opening comic-book cinematic. After every chapter of gameplay, you'll have to pose for new pictures. While you're encouraged to color within the lines by following the on-screen directions, being a little off adds to the comedic effect Kung-Fu LIVE already achieves with the humorous gameplay, sound effects, and graphics.
Remember, you need energy to play Kung-Fu LIVE. Punching, kicking, jumping, and movement around each level requires a certain amount of oomph to render damage to your opponents. The faster you move within the small space the game defines, the more distance you'll travel in the game world. Jumping up and kicking to the right will quickly launch your attack across the screen at your foe. Different special moves also require the same amount of steam to be registered. You'll come to rely heavily on the power-punch or the ground-slam as they're the best introductions to longer combos.
Talking about Kung-Fu LIVE as if it were a "real fighting game" is awkward. So how does this motion-controlled parody-piece grab hold of the player so strongly? Seeing yourself perform all the outlandish kicks, backflips, and exaggerated motions of a kung-fu master on-screen does the trick. It doesn't matter if you're fighting ninja masters or common thugs, Kung-Fu LIVE is just damn good entertainment.
[image2]Where other motion titles encourage the audience to laugh at the player, Kung-Fu LIVE makes the action on screen as or more entertaining than what the player is doing. You'll need heart to keep from keeling over. Sure, when I kicked a chair in the office over for the third time while shouting "WAHH!", it was laughable, but the fact that my attack landed on my on-screen opponent and sent him flying was even funnier.
You will need the drive to complete Kung-Fu LIVE. In Fighters Uncaged for the Xbox 360's Kinect motion controller, I had to be pretty determined to play through more than 10 minutes of poor controls and even poorer gameplay. Kung-Fu LIVE isn't challenging because it's stupid.
Instead, Kung-Fu LIVE throws smart enemies with long health bars at you, and thus the need for actual thought. I passed a lot of fights in Fighters Uncaged simply by windmilling my arms. Kung-Fu LIVE anticipates this willy-nilly movement and actually presents baddies who use such unstoppable (and dim-witted) tactics. Instead of fighting those bosses head-on, Kung-Fu LIVE gives you enough tools to outwit, outrun, and overpower. Having trouble with a specific enemy? Time to change your tactics. For a game this goofy, there's a surprising amount of depth.
A handful of neat technical additions also make Kung-Fu LIVE well worth the price of admission if you've already got an PS Eye. Picking up a household item and having the Eye recognize it as a weapon of mass martial arts destruction will amaze anyone for the first time. Wasn't the Kinect supposed to do this kind of thing?
[image3]You can also take on your friends in Kung-Fu LIVE's virtual landscape as well. Four players can pick up controllers and try to bring the on-camera player down.
Kung-Fu LIVE does require a ridiculous amount of space, though. Even in our large offices, I had a little trouble registering with the zone the game wanted me in. More often than not, your legs are cut off or background objects jump into the action with you. Despite these hiccups, Kung-Fu LIVE stands up to some furious motions even better than Microsoft's Kinect-enabled software.
If you have the room, don't have any heart problems, and already own a PlayStation Eye, you should go drop $15 on Kung-Fu LIVE now. For a downloadable motion game, there are very few missteps to be seen. After playing Kung-Fu LIVE, you'll hope Finnish developers Virtual Air Guitar get a lot of notice for their game, but you won't want them to step out of this inventive, fun little indie nitch they've found.