Sony has really become a powerhouse of securing indie titles for their platforms as of late, and the Vita has a new indie game from the developers of Puddle, Kung Fu Rabbit. Originally, this title was released on iOS and Android devices last year by developers CTools, Cazap and Bulkypix. This Spring, Wii U received an enhanced version of the 2D platformer courtesy of Neko Entertainment, and has now been brought to the PS Vita. In an interview I conducted with them during the Wii U version’s release, Neko Entertainment stated that they thought it was something great, but the touch controls didn’t provide it the precision that it needed. The game certainly has a very charming, cutesy style to it, but how well does it play?
Kung Fu Rabbit starts off with a comic-book style story panel being displayed, showing your fellow rabbits being kidnapped. However, abductors left one rabbit behind…you. It’s up to you to platform your way through 80 levels to save all the abducted rabbits. While the story isn’t much to write home about, it’s there to give you the basic reason as to why you’re navigating the levels. Plus, while there may not be much story, the character designs are very appealing.
The gameplay is very reminiscent of old-school 2D platformers, as well as some recent indie ones such as Super Meat Boy. Each level has you running, jumping, wall jumping, collecting carrots and slashing enemies as you reach the goal to rescue a kidnapped rabbit. The game takes place within three worlds, each containing 20 levels to tackle. The controls are incredibly simple and responsive, as any 2D platformer should be. You’ll use the control stick or D-Pad to move, the X button to jump and the Square button to use items. Neko Entertainment wasn’t kidding when they said they wanted to provide proper controls, so you can use the X button, Touch Screen or Rear Touchpad to control jumping. Since this is a platformer, jumping is a tremendous element to the game, so precision is a must. Thankfully, controlling Rabbit is a charm, as his running speed and jumping feels just right. Even jumping off walls works the way it should with the right amount of physics applied. Rabbit can attack enemies, however in a non-traditional method. Instead of being given an attack button, Rabbit will be able to slash an enemy automatically by simply approaching it where their “Achilles Heel” is. Enemies will have a certain spot where they’ll have a glowing blue design, and it is here where you can attack them. If it’s behind them, then you’re going to have to run into them from behind. If it’s on their head, then you can give them the good ol’ “goomba stomp” that we’ve grown accustom to since the days of Mario. In each level, you’ll come across carrots. There are three regular carrots in every level, alongside a gold carrot that gives you extra. The carrots are used to purchase items for you to use, whether it be single-use, artifacts or unlockables (such as the Mexican Avenger costume). The single-use items vary from cleansing the area of enemies, activating checkpoints, deflecting projectiles, etc. Artifacts are essentially perks, which will enhance Rabbit’s abilities: “Carrot Juice” will let you run faster and jump higher, while “Death from the Sky” allows you to defeat any enemy by simply jumping on them (regardless of their weak spot), “Feet of Ice” will freeze breakable platforms so that you can pinpoint your jump better, “Claws” lets you slide down walls slower, “Feather” decreases your falling speed, and lastly, “Master of Arms” lets you run into any enemy and defeat them instantly (basically making you invincible against them). The catch with the Artifacts? You can only equip one at a time. If a level is giving you a hard time, you’ll want to figure out which Artifact to bring with you.
Kung Fu Rabbit’s platforming starts off very simple, allowing anyone to be able to dive into the game. However, as you progress, expect the difficulty to certainly ramp up, demanding for some spot-on platforming skills. Aside from the enemies, Rabbit will have to worry about the “dark goo” that fills some of the platforms. Whether you’re jumping over dark goo, or wall jumping precisely to avoid it on walls, it’s a big obstacle throughout the game. As a matter of fact, almost everything poses a threat to Rabbit, as he dies instantly when coming in contact with an enemy directly or the dark goo. Thankfully, levels are very short and the game rarely leads to frustration. The overall difficulty curve is actually nicely handled and never feels like it spikes dramatically. Aside from the 60 main levels, there’s also a bonus world with 20 additional levels. These will test your skills further and if you wanted more of a challenge, you can unlock the game’s hard mode called “Hardcore Rabbit”. Basically, this will have you revisit levels but they’ll have a plethora of extra obstacles and enemies placed around. This mode alone will double the game’s length and keep you coming back for more.
Kung Fu Rabbit’s visuals are really appealing to the eye. The art direction for the game is very charming, with nice color palettes and a smooth frame rate. The character animations are a bit simplistic but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience. The environments definitely have that “asian” feel to them, whether you’re in the forest, cave or indoor dojos. It may not be anything overly complex, but that’s fine, as the game’s aesthetic is certainly done right. Thanks to the Vita’s OLED screen, the colors really seem to pop out of the screen. Audio wise, there are a few music tracks here and while they capture the setting appropriately, they become a little repetitive. Also, there is some “voice-work” done for the characters. I use the term “voice-work” lightly because there’s no dialogue, mainly just chants from the creatures and Rabbit. However, hearing Rabbit cheer when he rescues a kidnapped rabbit is very catchy. Funny enough, when Rabbit would die, his shout reminded me a bit of the Rabbids from “Rayman Raving Rabbids”. One of the main issues I had with Kung Fu Rabbit was it’s menu design. There are images for each icon to give you an idea of what part of the menu you’ll be accessing, but it just feels somewhat off when navigating them. It’s nothing detrimental that severely hurts the game, but something that stuck out immediately and never really adjusted to. On the plus side, the menus provide for full touch-screen navigation or through regular buttons, so you have either option. Also, for trophy hunters, this is a game that contains 17 trophies but don’t expect a platinum trophy in this list. The trophies are very easy to get and but a fun set to get nonetheless.
Kung Fu Rabbit is a game that’s simple to pickup-and-play, yet challenging enough for gamers of all types. Don’t let the game’s cutesy appearance turn you away. This is no doubt a fun and addictive game that you’ll find yourself coming back to. For the $4.99 asking price, there’s a good amount of content to be found here and is almost impossible not to recommend. If you’re a fan of platformers, don’t think, just buy this game.
Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10 = BUY IT!
A special thank you to Neko Entertainment for providing us a review copy for Kung Fu Rabbit!
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