Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic

Violence in games is rotting the minds of kids across the world right? That's why it's a good idea to use rag dolls, rather than life-like pixel collections, in battles of fist and fury. Nope. It's not that, it's just that it's great fun to watch uncoordinated muppets slapping eachother with limbs acting independently in a hail of comic stupidity. There's something quite satisfying about causing one doll to smash pots over the head of another, and it's equally hilarious to watch them fight over possession of a large, slippery fish, or dance up and down on platform, taunting rivals by twirling their arms around. Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic, quite simply, is the daftest fighting game ever seen on Playstation 3.

Rag Doll Kung Fu

Players can begin the game with one of the novelties available: character customization. With more plastic pieces unlockable, there's a good selection of heads, hair, torsos, trousers, feet and flip flops to make your character your own. With the player set, it's time to take to the battlefield, and it's here that the game reveals its own priorities: the multiplayer option is listed as the primary item, with single player challenges available as a side-avenue below. It's a good decision though, since the game is at its best with two or more people bashing away at the controls of their rag dolls.

There's plenty of modes to choose from too, ranging from a basic deathmatch (where rag dolls are respawned when their health is depleted, with the winner determined by the most damage and kills recorded) through to capture the fish, a variation on capture the flag, featuring a large green fish that must be placed in a collection basket. A fresh take on King of the Kill is also present, with particular platforms in the level designated as "the hill" and players throwing eachother off the platform to dominate and score points. The entertainment is increased since players can gain more points by insulting the opposition with casual dance immitations. Add to that a dodgeball mode and there's already plenty to keep multiplayer parties entertained.

Rag Doll Kung Fu

The single-player game isn't terrible either though, with the various challenges providing ample distraction for a good few hours, particularly if you're keen to achieve the harder targets. Everything from juggling your opposition through to acrobatic swinging from platform to platform is featured and some of them are surprisingly addictive. However, it's the challenges that truly highlight the weakness in the controls. Rag Dolls may be funny to watch, but like the characters in LittleBigPlanet, they're somewhat annoying to control. Managing to complete every challenge without once thinking that a particular button press had failed to respond would be a miracle. The physics system might be incredibly clever and fun to watch, but that doesn't always translate into enjoyable gameplay, especially when compared with the feel of games like Ratchet and Clank.

Rag Doll Kung Fu

Despite the flaws in character control, there's plenty that your fighter can do. Picking up objects is one the main attractions, with a variety of pots, rods and other implements available for use against other players. However, there are also special moves such as lightning balls (which, brilliantly, can be created, dropped and then picked up again or stolen by another player), sumo drops and firefly kick thrusts through the air. It might not have special moves on a par with Street Fighter and Tekken, but there's plenty of variety adding a tactical layer to the comic fighting, which is very much needed to avoid the frustrations of the punch/kick setup that feels somewhat clumsy, in keeping with the game's control flaws.

Visually though, the game looks very good. It has a similar feel to LittleBigPlanet, with a sort of soft-focus appearance that gives everything a very smooth, silky look. There's also good lighting effects and a nice variety of (admittedly small) levels. It's rare to see any major glitches in the game, and Rag Doll Kung Fu is arguably one of the best-looking games on the Playstation Store. The music is of a similar calibre, with some entertaining tunes comic voicework and satisfying effects. The game can't compete in either department with full-scale disc releases, but the quality is considerable for a store title.

Rag Doll Kung Fu has several flaws, and the awkwardness of the controls is perhaps the most significant, but these don't entirely cripple the game. There's still a huge amount of fun to be found here, especially in the multiplayer setting. With two experienced players, activating special moves to send player and projectile arcing across the screen, any audience would be treated to a beautiful acrobatic display, augmented by entirely mad, comic expressions and sound. Though the game doesn't have the lastability of its competitors in the world of fighting games, it's guaranteed to provide some excellent hours of entertainment.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Media Molecule

Players:

1-4

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2009-04-09

Trophies:

12

Review summary

Gameplay:

Easy to pick up, but totally nuts

Graphics:

Very snazzy, LittleBigPlanet-style visuals

Sound:

Fun music, amusing voices and solid effects

Lastability:

Designed for, and saved by, multiplayer modes

7.7

Volcanic

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User comments

Vs

12:12:39, May 18 2009

The game reminds me of Smash Bros onthe Nintendo

Shime

20:50:28, May 10 2009

If devs spent more time on perfecting good, responsive controls and a fully controllable camera, with less time on gimmicks such as rag doll physics, the gaming world would be a far more enjoyable.

Shime

20:42:28, May 10 2009

Tis I, purveyor of Rag Dolls and Kung Fu!

metalgearjon

14:05:26, May 10 2009

Good fun and easy to pick up. A good enjoyable game to play with friends.

Tongo

07:06:26, May 9 2009

Spot on, but I prefer flags to fish.

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01:40:35, May 9 2009

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