KUNGFU Kickball is an indie sports/fighting hybrid game that I’ve eagerly awaited since I played it with some buddies of mine on the show floor at PAX AUS 2019.
Its 2v2 mode was thrilling and chaotic and I came away excited to play the game when it finally released. More than 2 years on from that day and KungFu Kickball – developed by Whalefood Games and published by Blowfish Studios – is here.
Generally I would kick off a review covering my thoughts on a game’s narrative, but KungFu Kickball doesn’t have any. You do, however, get a fantastically animated cutscene upon launching the game which shows some of the games playable roster duking it out in what I can only assume is a battle for the title of KungFu Kickball Master.
From a visual standpoint, KungFu Kickball exhibits a simple but stylish pixel art style that is well animated and aesthetically pleasing across its half dozen levels, that range from locations such as the inside of a volcano, to the middle of a vast desert.
Soundtrack-wise, KungFu Kickball also does a decent job with its collection of tunes.
In addition to kicking a ball, KungFu Kickball also lets you bash and crash into the opposition – the key to success in KungFu Kickball is knowing when to strike your foes and when to strike the ball, making for an interesting and engaging experience.
Each character is equipped with a kick, jump, dash and a special move that can be activated by charging it. Controls are very basic and easy to pick up.
Speaking of characters, there are a total of 8 characters to play as in KungFu Kickball, but the game fails to articulate on the practical differences between most of them.
Unfortunately there are only six levels, but they each have differences in their design that change how they should be played. Stadium for example is a very flat map that is prone to high scores due to its lack of obstacles, whereas the Temple, despite a similar flat design, has more obstacles protecting the bell, making for a bit more of a challenge.
KungFu Kickball contains various local play modes to try, with Arcade the mode likely to demand the most of your time.
Each mode has fun to be had, but the time you manage to milk from them will depend on if you have eager friends to play with. If you don’t, the lack of content that each mode has with its small selection of maps and characters will see the game quickly get repetitive and boring.
Despite the crossplay between PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Switch, I often struggled to find someone to challenge me online. When I did manage to find someone to compete against online, more often than not the matches were a bit too laggy for my liking.
Making online even less enjoyable is the lack of any character customisation or sense of progression – you join a lobby, compete if you ever find someone, and that is all. A simple Win/Loss tally or levelling system would go a long way towards making multiplayer something worth playing. Right now it just isn’t worth the time.
I don’t have any doubts that Kung Fu Kickball is an entertaining video game. The constant action present in both its 1v1 and 2v2 matches are addictive and thrilling with friends – but it’s a different kettle of fish on your own, as the blatant lack of content makes the experience feel stale and repetitive after just a few hours.
I do still recommend giving KungFu Kickball a try if you’re after a casual yet competitive multiplayer experience, just be aware that your mileage will likely hinge largely on whether you’ve got friends to play with.
Written by: @GrumpyGoron