iPad Game Review: Kung Fu Rabbit Review (Universal)
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Kung Fu Rabbit is a puzzle platformer where you take control of charming bunny with ninja skills to collect carrots, rescue students, and, of course, vanquish evil.
In Kung Fu Rabbit, you control a charmingly animated rabbit who is trained in the deadly art of kung fu. Yes, it's another platformer elbowing its way into a crowded field of platformers. However, this one stands out a bit with its personality, level design, uncomplicated controls, and polish. Movement is accomplished by simple left/right/jump controls. It sounds simple, but in the right hands, these controls can be exceedingly deadly as they will enable you to jump, climb walls, and even fight enemies. One of my worst pet peeves with platform games has to do with the jumping mechanic. In many games, jumping sets you in motion much like an arrow in flight - you are unable to alter your trajectory once launched. Thankfully, Kung Fu Rabbit isn't like that. While the precision jumping portions of the game can still be frustrating, your ability to make small adjustments while in flight makes this game a LOT more forgiving. In no time, you'll not only be scuttling up walls, but you'll also be landing where you intend. Kung Fu Rabbit also sets itself apart by its unique attack mechanic. Every enemy was a weak point. As a master of stealth, you will not succeed by attacking enemies straight on. Instead, you must make contact with the enemy at exactly the right point (glowing green area), at which time an attack animation is triggered and the foe is defeated. This requires cleverness, accuracy, and timing rather than brute force or finger stamina, which plays nicely into the whole "master of silent death" mechanic.
Kung Fu Rabbit features 70 levels plus 10 bonus levels, all of which are unlockable in groups. Once a group of levels is unlocked, you are free to tackle the levels in any order you like, although the final level of each group must be beaten last. As you progress, you will collect carrots, which can be used to purchase upgrades, buffs, and outfits for you bunny-o-death, and levels can be replayed to farm carrots if necessary. With full support for Game Center, iCloud, and Airplay (which allows you to stream the game from your device to your Apple TV enabled television), as well as the iCade, this is a full-featured platforming experience, and one of the better ones I've played. While there were early complaints regarding the control system, a recent update seems to have silenced them, and I personally found the new flexibility/customizability much a huge improvement.
Kung Fu Rabbit very distinctive, polished, and charming graphics. While your character is essentially a cube with bunny ears, it is cleverly animated and fun to watch, especially when freshly outfitted with a newly acquired hat or outfit. Further, the Asian-themed levels are quite lovely, and would most likely look incredible if they ran at full resolution on the newest iPad. Even without that, however, the game is beautiful and full of personality on every device I've tried it on.
A great deal of care and effort clearly went into the music and sound effects of Kung Fu Rabbit. In a fresh departure from most games, the music seems to fade in and out as you play, and serves to add tension and drama, and to punctuate important areas. The sound effects were simply fantastic as well. From the pitter-patter of his little bunny feet whenever he moves, to the soft, quite rustling noise that accompanies his wall slides, the sound effects of Kung Fu Rabbit are some of the best I've heard in a game like this. Not only did I not turn the music off and the sound effects WAY down like I usually do; I found myself reaching for my headphones whenever possible.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
For the impatient among you, Kung Fu Rabbit offers the ability to purchase carrots in bulk in order to hasten the purchase weapons and accoutrements. Whenever I see this in a game, my eyes immediately narrow to beady little slits and I glare disparagingly, expecting the game to be purposely imbalanced so as to compel you to buy consumables. Fortunately, I did not find this to be the case in Kung Fu Rabbit. Rest assured, you will be able to acquire what you need through normal play, although with the game currently priced at $1, I actually found myself considering buying some carrots just to throw a bit more money at them.
Kung Fu Rabbit is a fun platformer with tons of both content and personality. The upgrade shop will compel you to collect every carrot, however, the ability to play levels in any order you like means you will never feel stuck and frustrated. Great level design, great graphics, and great sound/music. If you're at all into platformers, Kung Fu Rabbit should be an insta-buy, especially with its rock-bottom price point.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Clever and charming graphics, smoothly animated and full of personality. Sound: - 5 - Great sound effects and a soundtrack that enhances gameplay without being intrusive makes this one worthy of headphones. Controls: - 4 - As virtual gamepads go, this one is as good as any I've played. Gameplay: - 5 - A high content platformer with puzzle elements and fun upgrades will keep you playing for quite a while.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Spend the first few levels mastering your skills. Wall jumping, precision jumping, and enemy ambushes take time and practice, Grasshopper... Don't forget that you can play levels within a group in any order you like. If you get frustrated with one level, play another and come back to the offending level later. Replay levels to get every carrot. You're going to want to buy that new sombrero.