Kung Fu Panda
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that players don't necessarily have to have seen the movie to appreciate the game. Although the game focuses on fighting (thus earning it an E 10+ rating) and emphasizes the idea of fighting as a way to prove yourself, the player is always presented as the "good guy," whether it's saving bunnies and turtles from harassment from gang members, or defending a temple from robbers. When an enemy is vanquished, their bodies disappear in little wisps of smoke.
What's it about?
KUNG FU PANDA is a video game based on the animated movie of the same name where Po the panda, a lowly waiter in his dad's noodle restaurant, dreams of being a kung fu master like his heroes, the Furious Five. When an unlikely series of events finds Po named the next Dragon Warrior, he must hone his kung fu skills to not only prove that he is worthy of the honor, but to defeat the evil Tai Lung, who wants the title for himself.
Given the film's kung fu theme, the game has a decent excuse for featuring combat so prominently in the gameplay. Po is pitted against wave after wave of bad guys from different gangs (like the boars, crocodiles, and so on). The panda has a number of kicks, punches, and special moves at his disposal, and players also occasionally get to step into the shoes of the Furious Five characters to take advantage of special abilities like Master Crane's ability to fly. The game generally tackles fighting with an over-the-top, humorous approach that frequently pokes fun at Po's lazy attitude and less-than-athletic physique. Levels might also contain door switch puzzles, sinking platforms, ledge-climbing, rope-walking, and other challenges. Finally, a multiplayer mode lets up to four friends compete against each other in mini-games like target shooting and four-on-four brawling.
Is it any good?
Buyers be warned that although the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii versions of Kung Fu Panda all cost the same ($49.99), the games are not created equal. While the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, both of which were developed by Luxoflux, are perfectly playable and even enjoyable, the Wii version (created by a different developer, Xpec) is vastly inferior. All three games have the same levels and content, but the Wii version seems like a phoned-in effort with painfully awkward controls, poor hit detection, badly mixed audio, and noticeably lower quality graphics.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the history of kung fu and its various forms, some of which were vaguely referenced in the game (such as Tiger, Monkey, and Crane). After playing the game, do kids think it might be fun or useful to learn a martial art?