Sony Japan’s contribution to the PlayStation Move launch line-up does its job of diversifying an otherwise casual-centric library. Kung-Fu Rider’s premise is inspired from the glut of wacky niche titles that were especially commonplace in the Japanese PSX and PS2 game libraries: you escape from the mob by riding on an office chair. Thankfully, the Hong Kong setting and its countless downhills lend to many opportunities for evasion while you leap off ramps, grind on rails and survive 50-foot drops.
The story exposition is fitting for a launch title as Sony Japan saved costs by not bothering with cutscenes and instead has the two playable characters talk about their plight in the main menu itself. Toby comes off as a convincing Asian Shaggy while his assistant Karin delivers the obligatory fan-service as her short shorts show prominently while she pushes her office chair or one of many other wheel-equipped items.
Pushing these require moving the Move controller up and down to gain speed. Once on, there are a number of moves at your disposal in order to get to the getaway van in time. 360 degree kick moves (by pressing the Move button) are effective against basic mobsters while you are better off jumping (flick the Move controller upward) in order to avoid the stick-wielding suits. Ducking under low-hanging obstacles makes for one of the more humorous visuals as Toby arches backward in cartoony fashion. The player can maneuver by making basic turns, more extreme drifts and small sidesteps to the left or right. If you manage pick up enough power-ups, you can enable a time-saving boost by thrusting the controller forward.
As with the case of many launch titles, Kung-Fu Rider could have benefited from additional fine-tuning. Do not be surprised to encounter a number of collision issues that will unexpectedly send Toby or Karin flying. One particular annoyance is in trying to pull off limbo moves while turning a corner, which usually results in another knockdown.
Kung-Fu Rider is spread across 18 missions that last a few minutes each. There are also 6 free roaming modes, one for each of the game’s urban areas and offer opportunities to collect bonus items for added trophies. The surroundings do give a surprisingly authentic Hong Kong vibe. The floating HK dollar bills are accurately colored and the designs of the transit vehicles will be recognizable to any Hong Kong native.
As an added perk, the ability to use custom soundtracks helps extend the experience. Dreamcast-era Sega songs work especially well in Kung-Fu Rider, particularly the Jet Set Radio Soundtrack which complement the game’s urban visuals and grinding gameplay.
(This review was based off a full playthrough of the game on its default difficulty setting. 6 out of 14 trophies were unlocked. A copy of the game [as well as a Move controller & PlayStation Eye] was provided by Sony for review purposes)
Developer: Japan Studio
Platform: PlayStation 3
Released: September 17, 2010