Kung Fu: High Impact review

  • How it’s technically a videogame
  • The sweet freedom of turning it off
  • Mocking it with friends and family
  • Most of the features/gameplay
  • How it’s simultaneously boring AND difficult
  • The guilty shame of having purchased it

Five years after the launch of the Wii, we think it’s safe to say that motion-controlled gaming has been mostly a massive disappointment. After a strong initial showing and the occasional spike in interest, we’re left with overflowing bargain bins and more generic minigame collections than any sanely constructed universe should contain. Don’t get us wrong: there have been some bright spots (and we’re hoping for more) but the tradition of motion controls has mostly been one of forgettable shovelware. Into this airless void, enter Kung Fu: High Impact, a sad little beat-’em-up which perpetuates that legacy in spectacularly disappointing fashion. 

So, let’s start from the top: the motion controls on offer here are absolute garbage. Kinect games aren’t known for exacting 1-to-1 precision, but Kung Fu is worse than most. Throughout the game you (as in your corporeal, human body, not some hyper-powered avatar or superhero) are shown roughly in the center of the screen against such inspiring backdrops as “the docks” or, “some place where there’s a field”. Enemies attack from either side of the screen, forcing you to awkwardly swing back and forth or kick wildly behind you. Perhaps if, like the chipper actors in Kinect commercials, you’re absurdly rich and have a vast, expansive space to prowl while you flail at your television, Kung Fu will be a less clumsy experience. For the rest of us, the combination of poor responsiveness and wild swinging makes playing this game anywhere indoors a harrowing experience.

The other most glaring flaw of Kung Fu: High Impact is the complete lack of anything even remotely resembling Kung Fu. Do not, under any circumstances, approach this game thinking you may learn, even by accident, literally anything about the grace and majesty of martial arts. You’ll instead learn how to fling your arms left or right until the Kinect realizes you’re doing so, after which your onscreen self will occasionally strike in that direction… or perhaps, as a helpful alternative, go flying/somersaulting halfway across the screen. Though your avatar almost always appears to be doing the things you’re doing, the results are an unpredictable gambit at best. No matter how many carefully or forcefully we punched our fists directly into or through an enemy, the game recognized maybe half of our strikes as hits.

The game features a story mode with a narrative that, while really bland and unimaginative isn’t “pound nails into your skull” awful. As you progress through the story you’ll unlock four special abilities, like power punching or lightning blasts, which make the game a touch more playable, but their usage is heavily throttled and the lack of variety is a downer. There’s also a sprinkling of local competitive multiplayer that has you and up to four of your least fortunate friends competing to thrash at ninja-things and rack up high scores. There are some other single-player modes, but despite a brave attempt to use a large number of interesting and varied words to describe them, they all feel almost completely identical. 

This game should be, at most, a ten dollar download. It would feel even more appropriate at around the fifty cent mark, peddled by a trench-coated hobo in front of a sketchy movie theatre. At forty bucks, it’s difficult to imagine any human being, living or dead, getting an appropriate amount of value out of it. There might be some limited fun to be had batting some of the weird enemies around… if the motion controls were crisp and responsive. Since they’re not, it’s literally no fun at all, and ends up being at best a chore and at worst a painful, regrettable, shameful experience.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Fighting
Published by: Black Bean Games
Developed by: Virtual Air Guitar Company
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Fantasy Violence, Use of Tobacco, Mild Language


  • babypimpstorm - December 10, 2011 4:26 a.m.

    Wow, not sure what game you guys are playing, but I think you're confusing Kung Fu with Skyward Sword or a quality motion-controlled product. Playing this game felt like being struck repeatedly in the face by a limp penis.
  • kinectfan - December 10, 2011 3:42 p.m.

    We are playing a game called "Kung Fu High Impact". You should try it some day.
  • netizen - December 10, 2011 3:26 a.m.

    @babypimpstorm: Yeah but it also seems that there are so few ratings for the game on Meta that this single review took the score down by something between 10-20 points. Its a bit ridiculous that one ass of a reviewer can accomplish that. Its not surprising that the hardcore game media (which Metacritic mostly comprises of) treats motion games like shit no matter how well they are done. Its mostly the medias outside the hardcore that can show appreciation. The attitude seems to be that these are not serious games. "What? I have to move to play?! This is so bad!" They are just different. I'm happy to move for a change and get a different experience to some serious button smashing that takes 20 hours to pass, even if those games have their place as well.
  • pete-sellers - December 9, 2011 9:41 p.m.

    We've been playing the Hell out of this game for two days now and I can honestly say that, after having read this review, the reviewer didn't actually play the game. There's no way. It's not a perfect game by any means, but it is certainly entertaining. The controls are actually pretty impressive and the Kinect really does a great job keeping pace with the movement - as opposed to what the writer here said. Seriously, this idiot just has a chip on his shoulder and makes his bias very clear.
  • kinectfan - December 9, 2011 10:12 a.m.

    I beg to differ, but this was by FAR the BEST game I've ever played on the Kinect. I'm sick and tired of the stupid dancing games and Wii Sports ripoffs that litter the Kinect landscape. This one was a breath of fresh air. I'm not sure what axe the reviewer has to grind, but I'd suggest to the reader that you look at 99% of the other reviews out there which (rightly) tout this as one of the most innovative games to arrive on the platform. I think when you juxtapose those 9s and 10s with this reviewer's 1, this reviewer is going to have a lot of egg on his face.
  • babypimpstorm - December 9, 2011 11:27 a.m.

    A quick check of Metacritic, which has this game listed at 51% with not a single review above 80, it seems like 99% may be a touch high.
  • fearlessfox - January 12, 2012 12:56 a.m.

    Which reivews? Yeh, so perhaps 1 is a little hard, but it hardly looks like a game worth getting from all data.
  • MyCoolWhiteLies - December 9, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    This game looks like the stages kids had to run through on Nick Arcade. In other words, it looks like shit.
  • netizen - December 9, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    I got this game after reading a review on which gave it a 9. I don't know who peed into your breakfast cereal but that was more of a personal hatred rant towards motion gaming than a review. The game certainly does not deserve a 1/10. We played it taking turns with friends and had a blast and weren't even drunk. With a general attitude of 'motion games suck' I see little point in you reviewing them at all. Its like an opera hater reviewing operas. The message does not need to be repeated one by one if at all. I felt the game was ok. Certainly quite unique and I thought the story telling method was rather clever and fun allowing to see yourself and your friends inside it. And I don't know what you meant when you said it's not tracking your attacks. We didn't have problems like that, rather the opposite: where as many Kinect games react with a delay here I got the reaction and heard the hit right as my hand or foot landed on the face of the enemy. Could you have faulty hardware? Anyway, if you enjoy moving and like the idea of virtual fighting, this game can do well for you. If anything but sitting terrifies your untrained limbs, then it probably isn't your cup of tea.
  • PerttuH - December 9, 2011 5:04 a.m.

    Like with doctors, maybe it's sometimes best to get a second opinion... Having programmed most of the collision detection and player movement stuff in the game, I remain convinced that Kung-Fu High Impact is one of the most responsive Kinect games out there. Since most of the people I've seen playing have had no problems, I'd really like to see a video of the reviewer to be able to analyze what could be improved in the future.
  • THEBIGJ3 - December 9, 2011 1:07 a.m.

    Wow I've not seen a '1' on here before! Makes you wonder what these designers are thinking, do they not at least look at other games in the same genre for comparison before producing this crap??
  • NanoElite666 - December 8, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    So being a 1, how does it stack up to Blackwater in the grand scheme of suckiness?
  • willyfoureyes - December 8, 2011 5:59 p.m.

    Somehow, I get the feeling that this game's been reviewed on this site before...
  • MrSuitMan - December 8, 2011 5:57 p.m.

    I only have one word for this. Hold up let e put on my best blaccent... "SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET"
  • Sinosaur - December 8, 2011 5:48 p.m.

    If this wasn't motion controlled, I'd be utterly astonished at the fact that a game was able to be so bad to earn a 1.

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