Another Xbox 360 review. Minus the controversy.

(At least I hope it's minus.) No, wait, I know this will be largely noncontroversial. This is a review of Kung Fu Panda, a game that many gamers decided was crap before they even played it. Even myself, despite how hasty a conclusion that was. But after playing it (because I got it free), I found that it was kind of, maybe an OK game. Just very, very, repetitive and average.

Jack Black: Dragon Warrior.
Jack Black: Dragon Warrior.

Now before I get to the review, let me say that I've never seen Kung Fu Panda, so reviewing the game might be a bit hard. However, from what I can guess, the game is at least faithful to the movie. I think. Keep in mind that I haven't seen it. From what I saw, the movie was apparently about Jack Black becoming the Dragon Warrior, which for some reason manifests itself as rescuing baby turtles. The odd thing about this is that although it was advertised as a comedy, I didn't find it funny. All I learned was that Jack Black is a total douche, which I could have learned (and did) by making that picture to the left.

But to be fair, there is potential for a good game in the material. Look at the title: it's Kung Fu Panda. The only thing more appropriate would be a movie called "Shooty Supersoldier." But keep in mind that potential isn't everything. Need I remind you that Sonic R had potential to be a good game? In order to make a good game, you also need to execute that potential, and Kung Fu Panda fails in that regard.

As they should have done, you have a variety of moves with which to beat down baddies. But you don't need every single move, since you can usually button mash your way through battles. I got through almost the entire game by beating the fast attack button until it was a pile of blue dust. I say "almost" because I got through the final boss battle by mashing heavy attack.

So as you can clearly see, the game is quite easy. And repetitive. And easy. Now then, since a lot of you will inevitably tell me to play it on a higher difficulty, let me get this out of the way right now: I played on Normal (called Master in this game, presumably for egotistical reasons). Now back to the game, it's pretty easy, as I said twice before. Most of the optional objectives can be completed on the first try, and nothing demonstrates this better than the enemies. They pose no real threat, and they rarely do much damage. I got through the entire game without ever using the block move, something the game considers an "achievement." Once you get the belly stomp move, they become less of a threat and more scenery.

Other elements of the game don't fare much better. As I mentioned before, the objectives can be completed very easily. Some require bashing cages, some require collecting things, but they're all achieved through normal gameplay. I believe there were only one or two I didn't get, and that took a gravity defying amount of stupidity to achieve.

But it's not like Activision wasn't trying; I could tell they were at least trying to make a decent game. There are various gameplay extras (all of them lackluster) and extra characters you can play as, someimes. Take Master Shifu, for example: a small, agile rodent who's a bit more fun to play as. Why? Well, you can pretend that you're playing Sonic Adventure, only instead of running away from orcas, Sonic is in a long series of drunk bar fights.........*realizes how awesome an idea that would be for a game*

*remembers this game* Oh, right Kung Fu Panda. What else can I go on about? How about the graphics? From a technical standpoint, like the rest of the game, they're OK. There's fur rendering, decent cinematics, and...not much else that's good. Fine, there are some really, really good water effects, but the price you have to pay is that they mostly come in really repetitive (even by this game's standards) water levels. Everything else graphics-related can piss off. The animations come off as a bit choppy, especially on Po. Speaking of which, he's a textbook example the the uncanny valley. He sits too far between realistic panda and cartoony panda, the result being a fucking creepy protagonist. That isn't funny and relies too heavily on celebrity cameos. Like the rest of the cast.

You know what? I think I may be overanalyzing this game a bit much. After all, it's aimed at children, and children have very bad taste in video games. I'd use myself as an example, but I was lucky; most of the games I played were good. The closest I can think of is Rocko's Modern Life, which was decent if you knew what you were doing. So I guess kids will enjoy this game, even if nobody else will, really. All things considered, I give this game the Torneko Taloon Award for Fat Comic Reliefs.

Well, here's a video I made. At least a year ago. Unlike my blog, this is short, sweet, and to the point:


My proposed plan for a badass firefighter.
My proposed plan for a badass firefighter.

Well, as much as you guys hate it, back to the reviewing. Next up is a game called Burning Rangers, or as I like to call it, "Number 2 on my To Do List." It's considered one of the classic Saturn games everyone must play, along with NiGHTS and Panzer Dragoon Saga. But honestly, those games were much better (at least NiGHTS; I have yet to play PDS) than this. Nostalgia has tainted people's view of this game. And this is coming from me, A GUY WHO PLAYS NOTHING BUT OLD SCHOOL GAMES!!!

*sigh* Well, I have to review the game at some point, don't I? Might as well get it over with. So, the year is The Future (that is the year, for it is the future), and society has thought of some ways to make firemen more badass. I had some suggestions, but whatever, I'll go along with this. However, I stopped following the plot when I found out that the Burning Rangers always conveniently find some evil biological experiment hiding in the burning building. Am I the only person who found that a bit weird? Why aren't they rescuing people in more convential situations?

Speaking of which, rescuing people is (supposed to be) a big part of the game. Scattered throughout each level are a set amount of, let's say "hostages." Your job is to find them and transport them back to safety. The catch is that you need at least 5 crystals to send them back. You gain these crystals by putting out fires, and they also act as your health in a very Sonic the Hedgehog way. So we have motivation to rescue people and put out fires. Things are looking good, right?

Well, no. You'd think the game would focus on rescuing people, but the real focus is on getting through each level as quickly as possible (at least from what I've experienced). It works well for the final level, when you're stuck in a space abyss with little fire, but the rest of the game doesn't work like that. Instead, it consists of navigating linear corridors and dodging an oddly high amount of explosives. On that note: why does everything explode? I understand it's a fire, but come on!

Back to my main complaint, the halls aren't actually linear; there are plenty of diverging paths and different ways to get anywhere. It's just that your support character won't let you go on any of those paths. For example, I tried veering off the pre-approved path in an attempt to rescue a nearby child, and my support just bitched at me for not following the exact route she wanted me to. Excuse me, but I was under the impression that firemen (OK, I chose the girl, mainly because I'd be staring at her ass the entire game anyway) are supposed to RESCUE PEOPLE FROM FIRES!!!

In fact, I'm not even sure why I listened to her, because she certainly wasn't helpful. Whenever I didn't really need help, she'd spout obvious quips like "go straight" or "you need a key to open the door that doesn't automatically open" or "don't forget to breathe," but when I needed help, she'd do the same. I can imagine this working, but it didn't here. In fact, there were a lot of things about this game that could've worked, but didn't. Things like 3D graphics.

Notice how the draw distance is short, and it's more of an
Notice how the draw distance is short, and it's more of an "on/off" effect than a fade.
For anybody studying video game history, you'd know that the Saturn couldn't pull off true 3D graphics/gameplay without straining itself drastically. Oh, and your essays are due tomorrow, just a head's up. Back to the Saturn thing, Burning Rangers is a perfect demonstration of mediocre 3D graphics. The environments themselves are OK, but tend to...well, flicker their polygons on and off. It doesn't even have to be far away; it can happen when the camera is really close to you. And when things are far away, the draw distance rears its ugly head. As I wrote in the blurb, it's short and flickers. Objects can suddenly pop up on you without warning, and if you're chasing something (like a robot) and it's faster than you, prepare to see it flicker and disappear.

Don't think things get better with the characters; they're not as good, but in entirely different ways. They're not heavy polygoned (see Legaia), but they aren't complex. They're...middling. The characters look OK, but you can see their polygons from time to time, especially on the hostages. In addition, the lighting is poor. It works well when the characters are lit, but when they aren't, all shade disappears. It's hard to describe, but they look like they were made in Microsoft Paint.

There are a few other features, but I don't think of them as worth mentioning. But I will :P! First, there's the transparency effects. Apparently, this was one of the few (possibly only) Saturn games to have this effect (as opposed to pixel stippling, which this game also does). I didn't notice it much, but when I did, it looked like somebody used the negation effect from Paint.NET. We done with that? Good, next up is the anime cutscenes. Burning Rangers doesn't strike me as a game that needs them or adds anything to itself by using them, and it certainly isn't the second type of game. I know that last part was a bit confusing, but I'll elaborate: the animation in these cutscenes is choppy and tends to move at this really odd pace. Again, you have to play the game to understand it.

But that's assuming you wish to play the game, something I strongly recommend against. Sure, there were some neat concepts, but the game seemed to have went out of its way to blatantly ignore them in favor of mediocre contorls (if you don't have an analog controller), J-Pop music, and bosses that all die the exact same way. (I didn't mention any of this in the review because of how inconsequential each one of those things are.) The only reason I've seen good reception for this game would be nostalgia, plain and simple. So I'll give it the Resident Evil Award in Honor of Not Aging Well. And I'll give you guys some advice on Saturn games: just play NiGHTS, Panzer Dragoon, or Mega Man. Honestly, those are your best options, from what I've experienced.