Date: October 11, 2005
Author(s): Rob Williams
The Kung Fu game market is hardly large, so when one does pop up, it’s noticable. Kung Fu games also have their own uniqueness to them, but here’s a game that is even more so. This is a creation of Mark Healey, an indepentant game developer. Many people relate independant games to being sub-par or boring, but this is one game to tell them otherwise. Let’s jump right in, and take a hard look at Rag Doll Kung Fu!
The first time I heard of RDKF, was when I logged into Steam one night for a long night of Counter-Strike. I didn’t pay much attention to the pop-up at first, and just figured it was a mod that I was not interested in. After seeing the pop-up again, I looked a little deeper. Wow, this isn’t a mod.. it’s a completely odd game. At first thought, it reminded me of the stand-alone game, Codename Gordon, which is also available on Steam.
If it’s on Steam though, it must be based on the Source engine, right? Wrong. The game engine was written from scratch by Mark, with some tweaking help from friends. The reason we are seeing it advertised through Steam, is because this is how Mark decided to distribute the game. This is a smart move, because it’s one less thing a developer has to worry about.. plus it’s secure.
Rag Doll Kung Fu has been in the making for over a year, and it’s clear that Mark has put a ton of Chi power into this game. He worked on it a lot in his spare time, many evenings and weekends. This game is so home grown, that everything you see was created by either Mark or a close friend… even the music and movies!
The basic view of the game is this. Imagine having a Kung Fu fight with string puppets, but with no strings! What’s interesting, is that you can play through the entire game without touching the keyboard. That’s right, 100% mouse. This means you could play the game at work and your boss may actually think you are busting your behind off for the company. Awesome stuff!
Moving your character is something that takes so time to get used to. You have to grab ahold of a limb, whether it be his hands, feet or ever his head. You can simply click and drag your Chi along, to get to your destination. To jump, you just grab a limb and build a little power and quickly jolt your mouse to the area that you need to jump to.
Kung Fu wouldn’t make much sense without fighting, so there is a lot of that in the game. Fighting is pretty easy, as long as you already have a hold of moving your character. To punch another character in the face, for example, you can grab your Chi’s hand, and drag a right-click towards your opponents face.
It’s not just an easy brawl though, because to hit really hard, you have to keep your Chi full of power. To charge your Chi up, you must swirl your mouse around in a circle, clockwise or counter-clockwise. As you do this, you will see the progress by a beam of light that emits from your character. When your Chi is at full power, that’s when you are truly ready to wipe the floor clean.
There is a nice collection of weapons in the game, which you can find by smashing large pots as they spawn. Without a doubt, my favorite would have to be the small sword that you can find. It’s easy to use, and the results are evident! The sound you hear as you chop your enemy to pieces adds to the fun, and will keep you swirling your mouse until your arm wants to fall off.
Other cool weapons include Nunchuckus, which are also quite fun to use, but more difficult to master than the Sword. The Nunchuckus come in handy if you wish to smash rocks though, or your opponents head. One bizarre weapon I found in my travels was a dog on a leash. This not only adds to the uniqueness of the game, but shows also the huge sense of humor this game has.
Rag Doll Kung Fu is not only meant for single player, but multi-player as well. For single player, you will first start off with the usual training level, and continue up the ladder to the final boss. One thing that adds a lot to the levels, is the pure integration with video. Once you beat a level, you will immediately be brought to a video… without skipping a beat. The same happens once the video finishes… you will be straight back into the new level for more action.
Not only is there a multi-player mode, but there is even an online mode. There is a good collection of mini-games to choose from, including Soccer, High and Long Jumps, and Ninja Onslaught. Soccer is pretty self explanatory, but it’s of course unique in this game. You try to fend off your opponent while trying to get the ball in his net. Simple concept, but it’s a blast. The high and long jumps are again common sense, but mastering these mini-games will help you learn how to jump super high, and even fly to an extent. Though I did not get a chance to play online yet, you can choose from either LAN or over the internet.
To say the least, the graphics impressed me quite a bit. As you can see from the screenshots in this article, the game is chalk full of eye candy. The screenshots do not do the game justice, because it’s an absolute graphical treat. The effects are extremely well done, especially when your Chi casts fire from his hands.
There are simple graphics settings that you can choose. To help the game look even more crisp, you can choose up to 4x Anti-Aliasing. If you have a widescreen monitor, you can even choose between 4:3 or 16:9 mode. Lastly, you can choose to run the game in windows mode, and choose between hi-red and low-res textures.
Even though the game is 2D playing, it has a lot of 3D elements, and that helps the game feel more alive. It’s impressive that this was all done by very few people, mostly Mark himself. He is not only a great coder, but also a great graphic designer!
Before I first jumped into the game, I had mixed feelings. From the screenshots, it looked like a cool game with neat graphics, but I wondered how enjoyable it would be to play with only the mouse. The game certainly came with a learning curve, and I did get discouraged a little at first. Since I’m such a noob, you may not find yourself with trouble at all. Once you understand how the game works, you are set.
The game is so well put together, I have no complaints whatsoever. It’s not meant to be a serious game, that’s quickly evident. Between the actual gameplay and cutscenes, you are sure to laugh many times.
The asking price for the game is $14.95US, and that’s not a lot to ask. I have had a blast playing the game over the past week, and highly recommend it to anyone. I can’t see myself stopping from playing this game, anytime soon. For once, there is a smaller game that I actually enjoy! It’s a great ‘Jump in and Go’ game, with a lot of replay value. If you hook up with your friends online, then the game is even more enjoyable… especially once you get into creating custom characters.
Kudos to Mark Healey and his crew, this is a job well done. If you want to find out even more information on the game, you can check out the official website at www.ragdollkungfu.com/. You can also join in discussion on the official forum, which just so happens to be part of the Steam Forums. If you want to see first hand what this game is all about before you can get your hands on it, check out the GDC video also found on the official site.
When I first saw an independent game listed in Steam, I had found it odd. After playing this one though, it shows that Valve would not add a ‘junk’ game to that list, but only quality. If that is the case, I hope to see more independent games listed there in the future. Thanks to Marcos Healey for help during this review.
If you have a burning question remaining about the game, please feel free to leave it in our related review thread! Registration is not necessary, but welcomed.
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