Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic Preview
It won’t be long before the PSN will be a common hunting ground for PlayStation 3 owners wishing to pick up a cheap, simple, and entertaining title to pass the time between software blockbusters. Hell, if you’re not at least browsing about the Store every now and then, you’ve already missed out on plenty of top-notch downloadable games. Furthermore, with the economic crunch in full effect, we’re doing our readers a favor and ensuring that we focus on such titles for the sake of their wallets. As of right now, you can hop on and pick up three addictive little games for a grand total of $30, which is half the price of single new game down at GameStop. You don’t have to leave the house, either. Therefore, we’re taking a look at Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic, the oddly yet aptly-named title from the makers of LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule, and Tarsier Studios. It’s scheduled to arrive some time later this year, and if you’ve ever had the slightest inclination to play a game like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you should pay attention. Besides, who needs the Wii, anyway? Really?
The goal in Fists of Plastic, first previewed at Sony’s CES booth, is to beat the snot out of any comers, all the while maintaining your occasionally unstable footing. After all, you’re a freakin’ rag doll, so any and all movements will probably feel appropriately tenuous. If you’ve played or seen past entries in Nintendo’s SSB franchise, you will recognize this style; you will jump about on different levels that remain on the same screen, and you can smash boxes to snag power-ups in order to administer some humorous beatdowns. One of the coolest features we’ve heard of is the ability to generate your own original character by “building” him/her/whatever from scratch. That’s right: you’ll be able to create a totally bizarre fighter by selecting from a pile of spare plastic parts, and because the game supports four players at once, we can already imagine how four unique creations will look…now that should be funny. But if you don’t want to get all complex, just select from one of the pre-constructed fighters and head out. There will be four game modes to choose from, and they’re all loopy, as anticipated.
So yeah, you jump around, get power-ups and punch, kick and whirl your way to ultimate victory. The face buttons will dictate the simple and straightforward controls, but there will also be a significant dose of motion control via the Dual Shock controller. Say, for example, you have built up a substantial amount of Chi power. Well, if you swipe the controller back and forth while attacking a foe, your punches and kicks will deal added damage. On top of which, if you’re hurting during brief lulls in the action, you can turn the controller over in your hands (presumably, so it’s upside-down), and your rag doll fighter will start to meditate and replenish health. At some point, you can even fully embrace the concept of the rag doll by holding down the R2 and L2 buttons; this will cause your fighter to swing his arms around and sway back and forth…yep, like a rag doll. If you need a real-life image that may be familiar, think of that old martial arts movie, “The Legend of Drunken Master.” It’s an old Jackie Chan flick that might help you to better understand the concept of the swaying, slapping rag doll on your screen. If you don’t want to rely on your own inherent skills, though, you can take advantage of the weapons that will be available to you.
A few of the modes in the game will be Capture the Fish and King of the Hill. The latter takes us back to those innocent days on the playground, where kids would struggle up a hill to knock the “King” off his lofty perch. Whoever can stay up there the longest, or whoever is the last one standing at the top when the bell rings, wins. Remember? Same idea here, and the longer you can stay atop the mountain, the more points you will earn; just bear in mind that the oncoming enemies will become harder as time goes on. Capture the Fish is even more maniacal, as the crazy rag doll movements are fully on display. You must drop this rubber fish into a bucket, and you can either jump over it and drop the fish in, or chuck it in from afar (like a bizarre form of basketball). Opponents can snag the fish in mid-air and simply beat on you and steal it, and the whole time, these silly rag doll creatures are ambling back and forth, desperately trying to get a fish into a bucket. …did we mention that a lot of downloadable titles on the PSN are both unique and quite creative?
Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic is one of those games that ought to elicit plenty of smiles when it finally hits the PSN. Besides, anything that Media Molecule is involved in piques our interest, and we can always use a break from the more serious productions that dominate the sales charts. At its core, gaming really is all about the entertainment, and there’s always a reason to step back and simplify your favorite leisure activity. This one, like many of the other downloadable games already available, will let you do exactly that.
1/26/2009 Ben Dutka