Kings of Kung Fu – Preview
Follow Genre: 2D Fighter
Developer: Jae Lee Productions
Publisher: Digital Tribe
Platforms: PC
Tested on: PC

Kings of Kung Fu – Preview

Good: Passion, classical Kung Fu art style, great soundtrack
Bad: Clunky animations, unresponsive controls
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(4 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)

Let’s start this one off with a disclaimer: at the time of writing, Kings of Kung Fu is still in its Early Access stage. Experienced gamers know that this stands for clunky, unfinished builds that are meant to be refined using an active playerbase as testers instead of hired help. Although Jae Lee Productions is showing a lot of passion for the martial arts film genres, which oozes from every pore of the game, this doesn’t make up for the lacklustre fighting experiences making up its core.

Like many of its peers, Kings of Kung Fu uses a flimsy plot to pit a handful of warriors against each other to see who’ll come out on top. However, it does try to make this more interesting by refusing to settle for some interchangeable, fictional characters who happen to know how to use their fists.

Each of the eight playable combatants are real life martial arts masters who have performed as stuntmen in many a movie, using their signature fighting styles in the game. These styles range from Tao Lung’s Chinese Boxing to Ron Jones’s Shorun-ryu Karate and from John Deux’s American Kickboxing to Hou Feng’s Monkey Style. Your chosen fighter is first challenged by all others before he is deemed worthy to raise his fists – or feet – before Red Ronin, a mysterious warrior who is looking for skilled warriors to beat. Ah, boredom… How many teeth and broken bones have you cost over the years?


As obviously crazy as the developer is about martial arts, it is no wonder that Kings of Kung Fu strives to be the visual representation of a fighting fan’s wet dream. There’s a dozen of classically inspired backgrounds to choose from, each more detailed than the last.

Compared to this, however, the characters themselves do look a tad underwhelming. Of course, this is no big budget game and it should therefore be cut some slack, but the discrepancy between the combatants and their environment is simply too great to ignore. Using grainy screen filters and other effects might give it an old-school look, but it doesn’t hide this visual inconstancy. Considering its indie origins, however, the game does deserve praise for its accurate portrayal of each fighter and their respective fighting styles.


Picture any martial arts movie you may have ever seen. Got it? Now summon the tunes that supported this flick. Still following? Good, now add some good old Hip Hop to the mix and you’ve got an idea of what Kings of Kung Fu sounds like. When listening to its soundtrack, it’s nigh impossible to deny its coolness, laying down more freeze rays than Ice-T himself. Moreover, the game comes packed with more songs than you’ll care to count, which means that it almost cannot get old.

During matches, the characters scream and shout their way to victory as only martial artists do, emphasizing each strike with fitting grunts. It might sound like a small thing, but it’s details such as these that make you care about the fight. Try playing Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur or any other fighter muted and you’ll understand just how important they are.


The design philosophy behind Kings of Kung Fu is great, no question there. It’s supported by a nice soundtrack and atmospheric – albeit slightly mediocre – visuals, which is also a plus considering this is a budget title. If only the gameplay were up to par…

The playable roster, for starters, is pretty small in comparison to similar games, providing only eight characters. For the sake of completion and to satisfy the hunger for knowledge only true martial artists know, they are Tao Lung, Chen Fu, Ron Jones, Hou Feng, Lo Wei, John Deux, Ju Mao and Chang Tai. All of these real life fighters are portrayed very accurately, which does render this roster more impressive, especially since every character has a completely different fighting style.

However, once the actual fighting starts, the game starts showing more cracks than a hardhat with a hernia. Many animations are flawed and take up a whole lot more frames than they should, resulting in a plethora of situations in which a character is utterly stunned by his own moves. Chaining together multiple attacks into a combo, a staple of many martial arts, is often impossible due to unresponsive controls and downright unreadable animations. As such, most fights quickly devolve into button mashing mayhem, which actually hinders the player’s effectiveness even more since the game has a Mortal Kombat-esque “combo heavy” feel to it. If these rough edges can be smoothed out in time for the game’s rebirth out of its Early Access state, it may be worth looking into. As it stands now, however, the gameplay is too broken to provide any sense of excitement.



Kings of Kung Fu is poised to strike as a true master in some regards, like its killer audio and the abundance of love letters it sends to the culture it wishes to honour. However, in failing to uphold the same standard for its gameplay, it fails to deliver the smooth experience that is vital to any fighting game experience. This preview hasn’t even mentioned the fact that only couch multiplayer is supported, leaving no room for any online brawls. Looking at the state of the game, I can hardly argue for the existence of multiplayer lobbies, as they would be doomed from the very start. A promising, yet still too clunky title, Kings of Kung Fu will need to step it up several notches, yet with the right tweaks and enhancements, this could definitely be a worthwhile purchase when it officially releases.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Kings of Kung Fu - Preview, 9.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Tom Cornelis

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