Kung Fury: Street Rage Review — One Punch at a Time
Can Kung Fury: Street Rage for PlayStation Vita, PC, PS4, iOS and Android deliver on the over-the-top brilliance of the film and legacy of brawler games?
Taking the 80’s B-movie flair to a whole other level, YouTube Channel LaserUnicorns brought us their corny yet awesome take on this era (through crowdfunding) with the action film Kung Fury. The thirty minute short film can be seen on Netflix or free on YouTube and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Of course, keeping with the movie tie-in video game, developer Hello There AB released Kung Fury in video game form, aptly subtitled Street Rage. With a title like that, if you were thinking of Sega’s Legendary beat ‘em up Streets of Rage you’d be on the right track for the general feel of this nostalgia-lined game. Streets of Rage was a genre defining game at the time, but does this legacy work in Kung Fury: Street Rage’s favor or is this one nostalgia trip you don’t want to take.
The latest version on PlayStation Vita is not the first time Street Rage has been released. It’s already been around for a while — two years to be exact. Kung Fury: Street Rage first came out on Android, iOS and PC back in May 2015, coinciding with the live-action movie Kung Fury.
After a few months, the tie-in title came to PS4 for a measly two dollars. Finally, after two years of waiting, Street Rage made its way to the portable it should have been originally released for: the PlayStation Vita. I have to say, I can’t imagine playing this on anything other than a mobile or portable device — the art style and nature of the game compliment it being played in short bursts.
Kung Fury: Street Rage takes place in the Kung Fury movie universe and, of course, you play as the titular cop known as “Kung Fury” and his band of sidekicks Triceracop, Hackerman, and Barbariana. The goal is simple: kill or destroy as many Nazi thugs, footsoldiers, and weird walking computer things as possible because, well… they’re Nazis. While doing this, you will try to rack up points and combos by kicking, punching, shooting, blowing up, disintegrating, and doing whatever else you can to the ever pursuing enemy force.
One thing you will notice right away is how Hello There lovingly crafted Street Rage to feel like you are thrown right into a retro arcade cabinet, featuring nice pixel-art throwbacks to a bygone era. The full CRT TV days are in full effect here, showing some on-screen scan lines and lighting which looks like some other light source reflecting back on a monitor. It’s truly impressive the amount of care that went into making this an authentic experience; for instance, the character animations balance a fair amount of gameplay smoothness with limited animations to great effect as to not make timing attacks an impossible venture.
The gameplay revolves around a stage which looks like it was taken straight out of an old school brawler. You can use the D-pad and the square or circle buttons to attack in either direction. Enemies appear from either side of the screen and it’s up to you to push the corresponding direction once an enemy is in range. Certain enemy types can can only take one hit while the stronger enemy types take two through four hits. When progressing further through the enemy waves, some will be able to teleport side-to-side until they’re defeated, adding much needed variety to the overall repetitiveness of the combat.
Since you can die in two through five hits (depending on the character chosen), death happens quite often. Good video games allow players to learn from their failures and, while you can become better at judging which enemies to attack first, there is still an element of luck to each encounter. Also, a fair amount of slowdown can occur further into waves due to the high amount of characters onscreen at once.
A major part of the combat is holding together a combo to try and beat your own high score. Unfortunately, there is no online leaderboard to speak of which is a huge oversight for a game like this. As long as you are continuously able to connect with an enemy without missing or getting hit, your combo will continue to climb. Missing an attack or getting hit significantly drops your combo meter and is the main draw to try and perfect with each wave. Part of the appeal of Street Rage is the act of settling into a groove — at points, it feels very similar to rhythm games on the market, only with a different coat of paint.
In no way, shape, or form does Kung Fury: Street Rage play off of the proper film in following after the plot. Even though there is a Story mode with five levels to play through, each for a different character, it’s pretty much just a simple exposition scene leading to the next area. The story is fully voiced by actors sounding convincingly similar to their movie counterparts which is a nice addition.
Playing as the different characters from the movie is definitely a highlight and adds a sliver of replay-ability. There is enough variety with each character in their attack motions to make the gameplay interesting enough. For instance, Barbariana wields an axe and gatling gun to mow down enemies on her fourth successful hit, Triceracop can somersault and dodge around with each shot fired, and Hackerman charges up his shot before letting out a barrage of gunfire as long as you are able to keep the combo.
Staying with the theme of the 80’s, Street Rage incorporates a nice mixture of chip tunes into the sound design. Attack noises are satisfying, with the clanks of metal and grunts providing an extra oomph to each hit afflicted. The music, while limited to one looping track, is good enough to be stuck in your head long after you’ve played in a positive way.
Kung Fury: Street Rage ends up being a decent distraction from other major retail releases in short bursts, but is severely hampered by the lack of modes and overall repetitiveness of it all. What can be said is how Hello There definitely put in the work to show adoration for the 80’s with a authentically crafted look into what made that era great. Street Rage is fun in short gameplay sessions, but its a game no one really needs to own unless you’re a big fan of the movie.