PS3 Reviews: Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic Review

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Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic Review

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Graphics:

 

8.4

Gameplay:

 

5.7

Sound:

 

6.6

Control:

 

5.0

Replay Value:

 

5.3

Overall Rating:       6.0

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Sony Computer Entertainment

Developer:

Tarsier Studios

Number Of Players:

1-4 Players

Genre:

Action

We’ve already seen some uber-fun PSN titles, and that includes everything from the stellar quality of Wipeout HD and echochrome to the silly yet seemingly ceaseless entertainment offered by the likes of Magic Ball and Burn Zombie Burn!. We really couldn’t be happier with the full downloadable games we’ve seen over the past year – how awesome was Flower? – which is why we were excited to give Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic a try. Unfortunately, after spending a full afternoon with the game and learning of its inherent downfalls, we have come to the conclusion that while it might be worth a look, there are better options currently on the PlayStation Network. The problem doesn’t necessarily center on the concept, but in this case, on the implementation. The controls are iffy, the fun factor suffers due to a general lack of direction that leaves us feeling unsatisfied, and we just found ourselves losing interest after a mere hour of gameplay. This isn’t exactly what we were looking for, although we do applaud this title’s originality.

Easily the most impressive aspect of Rag Doll Kung-Fu is the graphics; they’re definitely some of the most accomplished we’ve seen from a downloadable title so far this generation. They’re not only sharp, but surprisingly detailed, and those zany “rag doll” animations are expertly depicted and always a joy to behold. There are a few shortcomings that plague the presentation, but they affect the gameplay more than the visuals. We could’ve used a bit more variety in the background environments and we certainly wanted those environments to be larger, but the graphics remain mostly smooth and appealing throughout. Perhaps we could’ve used more in the way of character diversity; the base designs of the faceless enemies we often fight are okay, but can’t measure up to the main characters on display. It’s a strange contrast, really: “hey, that’s a great-looking character but who’s this detail-less enemy all of a sudden?” There’s a character customization option that’ll definitely keep you occupied, though, and it adds some fantastic flavor.

The sound is good, but it doesn’t stand out like the graphics. There are a few hilarious voice and sound effects tossed into the mix, but the soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired and the game is altogether too quiet. Something like this needed some zany music and a slew of kooky effects to complement the strange style, but instead, the sound takes a backseat to the action. Normally, we wouldn’t complain, but in this day and age, sound has become essential to great experiences, and PSN games aren’t excluded from this rule. The good news is that what we do have is professionally instituted; the balance is solid and the various crazy effects are sparse, yet tight. Custom soundtracks would go a long way to making this game more appealing, but it could also use an overhaul in the effects department as well. Or perhaps it’d be more accurate to say it doesn’t need an “overhaul,” but just a fair amount of addition and enhancement. When we’re flying around our little battlefield and smashing enemies with all sorts of loopy attacks, we had better have the appropriate ambiance. We kinda get it, but…

When a game has the title, Rag Doll Kung-Fu, one immediately assumes the controls will be basic and straightforward. But as we worked our way through the tutorial, we quickly began to realize that it will take a good amount of skill and reflexes to master the battle mechanic. This wouldn’t typically be a problem, but Tarsier Studios takes the ill-advised route that includes motion-sensing; they try to combine this with standard button-pushing, and this poses a few problems. The biggest issue is simple: the game moves very quickly, as expected, and it asks that the player switch their brains quickly between button pushing and manipulating the entire controller. For instance, holding the Circle button to block is one thing, but when you tip the controller up and then slam it down, your character executes a special smash maneuver on the screen. It’s easy to pull off, but you have to reconcile your brain to this combination mechanic. Some players will find it difficult to fly across the screen with a super punch by holding certain buttons and yanking the controller to the right or left…it just doesn’t come naturally to most people.

This is part of the issue; the other revolves around the gameplay setup. You’ve got the Challenge mode, which is the meat of the game, and starts you off easy. The objectives are a little nutty, but then again, they’re supposed to be; for example, the second challenge has you trying to toss a fish into a big basket, all the while hounded by enemies. This just grows a little tiresome, even though you can unlock Trophies and new pieces of equipment for your character. New legs, torsos and even heads will be available to nab, and provided you can hit the goal in each new Challenge, you’ll open up the next mission on the list. All of this should point towards plenty of entertainment, but for some reason, we just started getting bored. We didn’t like the combination of the motion sensing and standard button pressing, and in our opinion, it’s never a good idea to have the right analog stick dictate an attack. You can pick up a variety of weapons in the game – including a staff and nunchuks – but the right analog completely dictates the direction and execution of the attack. No good.

Your character is a spry little devil, though. Even though he flails about – this is “rag doll kung-fu,” after all – he can punch, kick, and utilize special Chi attacks to decimate his enemies. He can even pick up weapons, as we just discussed, and various items to throw at his foes; this includes random urns and vases that fall from the ceiling and every ninja’s best friend, the shuriken. Throwing objects is easy, and probably the best-implemented battle mechanic- you simply pick it up with the R1 button and aim and throw with the right analog stick (much easier to do than attacking with a melee weapon). Your character can also grab ledges and swing around, kicking any enemies that might be in the vicinity and even preparing for a leap to another ledge. R1 lets you grab your foes, too, but if you fail, you might get nailed… All in all, the biggest benefit of the gameplay is the number of options you have when trying to complete the latest Challenge. Even if you find certain maneuvers to be too difficult, there are plenty more that should see you through to the end.

There just isn’t a whole lot here, and we weren’t enthralled enough to recommend a purchase. If this had come out a few years ago (the original Rag Doll Kung-Fu hit the PC in 2005), we might’ve gone easier on the drawbacks, but as we said earlier, there are plenty of better downloadable titles on the PSN. Perhaps the biggest downside is the fact that their target audience may find the gameplay to be too complex and frustrating. It’s okay once you get the hang of it, but it never gels into a cohesive battle system; we never feel as if we have full control of what’s happening on the screen, and the difficulty can spike erratically. Some of it’s fun but it loses its appeal very quickly, and while somewhat ambitious and unique, it’s just not a streamlined, polished production. We expect more, plain and simple.

4/14/2009 Ben Dutka

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Comments (22 posts)

Scarecrow
Tuesday, April 14, 2009 @ 11:36:19 PM
Reply

Needs:

-More characters
-A STRONG story
-More stages
-Supers

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Daedusian
Tuesday, April 14, 2009 @ 11:45:10 PM
Reply

shame, I was looking forward to this one..

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Cpt_Geez
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 12:52:43 AM

Me too.

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LegendaryWolfeh
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 12:02:34 AM
Reply

Needs online more than anything...

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BigTonesAUS
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 12:54:52 AM
Reply

no online multiplayer? seems odd to have left that out in a fighter.

oh well, back to SF4...

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fundando
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 1:20:54 AM
Reply

I got this and it is pretty fun, but they need to add a tiebreaker sudden death mode. I hate getting ties.

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Fabi
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 1:47:45 AM
Reply

The song that plays during the character customization part is worth the $10 in my book. I need to get a mp3 version of it.

Anyway, I actually think (and so do the 6 different people that have played it with me) that the motion controls of the game are what make it fun.

I agree that it's missing a lot, but if you have 3 buddies, it's a great game for the price.

I think it should get at least a 7.5

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blitz30952
Monday, May 18, 2009 @ 4:39:32 AM

Yeah, the motion controls add that little something something to it... executing three Firefly punches in a row to an enemy in the air is badass :)

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Geobaldi
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 2:20:30 AM
Reply

I have the original and as frustrating as that one was trying to learn, I can imagine that this one isn't too different. Still it was fun, and original. Hopefully they can iron out some of the issues.

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End of line
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 4:15:09 AM
Reply

Agree with Fabi, the controls do add extra challenge and allow for major bragging rights if you regain health from near death and take out the game. For those who havent played it, you're a sitting duck when you try to regain (you have to flip the controller so you cant press any buttons to defend) so victory is pretty sweet if you pull it off.

If it had online play i could have easily racked up 100+ hours of playing time on this one. A real shame this cannot be.

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Deadman
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 7:20:42 AM
Reply

I disagree Ben Ive had nothing but fun with this title it works as a party game and the motion controls arent that difficult to learn. It lacks a few features like online play but I felt my money went to the right place on this one it deserves an 8.5 not a 6

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Naga
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 8:11:39 AM
Reply

Wait it uses motion controls?? guess I'll just wait and buy Outrun Online tomorrow instead

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Fabi
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 12:27:32 PM

The controls are awesome, and this is coming from someone who hates the Wii (because I suck at it), the controls are real easy, the most akward move is the blast punch or whatever it's called, and even that isn't that hard.

Damn you Ben! I completely disagree with you on the controls. I had two kids playing with me this weekend (they had a blast) and got a hang of the controls within 15 minutes.

This is one game where the motion controls are actually really good.

Come on you get 4 different modes, like 8 levels, a light create a fighter mode, challenges, trophies, and really fun multiplayer that you can throw on for a good 45 mins when your buddies come through, for just 10 bucks!

Last edited by Fabi on 4/15/2009 12:28:30 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 4:45:35 PM

I'm sure there are people who don't have a problem with the controls. They just didn't come together for me.

Furthermore, I didn't realize it, but you may want to check the critical average for this game. ...it's actually below a 6.

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Alienange
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 9:35:35 AM
Reply

Looking at the vidoes of this, I can't help but think that it was built off of some lost LBP level. The dual analog controls, the grabbing, the floaty jumps, the silly close ups... it's all there.

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TEG3SH
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 12:19:32 PM
Reply

boooohoooooo ben not fair, IMHO this is the best game on psn and xbl.
i wont give it 10 due to the lack of online, but if u have at least one person around who is interested in games this is the best MP ever and as fabi said the song is awesome
and dont forget the pc version didn't have online at launch.

ok sorry the best game on both psn and xbl is CRASH COMMANDOS .my bad

^^^^^^^^co-creator of this is one of the guys at MM

Last edited by TEG3SH on 4/15/2009 12:20:31 PM

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Fabi
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 12:30:12 PM

Hell yeah! Love that song!

Bottom line, if you like Smash Bros. you'll like this game.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 8:12:35 PM
Reply

Huh, the critics may not like this game but i loved it and everytime i pick up my controller i go to play it even if it is only for 5 min.

The controls were not hard to execute but hard for me to remember. i constantly was pausing the game to get a peek at how to do the specials. although after only about an hour of straight play, i got it down and have been sailing ever since. The six-axis makes it a lot of fun and i think implemented well.

With more challenges, and online mp, the game could have gone a long way... either way i dont regret the money i spent on it! I have played this more than any other game ive bought off the network, its that good!

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 4/15/2009 8:14:37 PM

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Deleted User
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 @ 11:36:20 PM
Reply

I don't care at all about the critics in this game, because I have now played with around 10 different people, and they all enjoyed it.

The things the critics bashed are all things that you can easily over look for $10. They are expecting something to compete directly with Smash Bros. or SF4.

One thing they all agree on is that if you have three friends around, the game is well worth the price.

And that's the point of the game, if the point was to play it online, it would have online.

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Subtracterall
Sunday, October 25, 2009 @ 4:22:13 AM
Reply

I got this game for free in the playstation store when it came out. it was probably free for less than a day...

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Jojoman
Monday, October 26, 2009 @ 12:16:10 PM

... more like a week. Sponsored by Sprint. I got it for free also.

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Subtracterall
Sunday, November 08, 2009 @ 10:04:40 PM

oh... i must have gotten it on the last day of that week then

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