In late 2013, Swedish filmmaker David Sandberg launched a Kickstarter for his eighties-themed dream project, Kung Fury. The project secured enough funds for a short film, with the 31 minute Kung Fury arriving for free on YouTube earlier this year. Sandberg stars in the film as the titular Kung Fury, a super-powered martial artist cop who travels back in time to stop Adolf Hitler from becoming the Kung Führer. Although too heavy on green screen and gore for my tastes, Kung Fury is too crazy, fast, and fun not to watch.
Given the film's subject matter (and the killer arcade machine robot that sets the story in motion), a videogame tie-in makes perfect sense. Kung Fury: Street Rage is a simple beat 'em up for Steam, Android, and iOS that puts players in Kung Fury's high-tops as he upholds the law by punching and kicking an army of time-traveling Nazis.
With the Steam version ringing up at only two dollars, any fan of the movie or the games of the eighties will want to give it a look. Does it have any substance though? Read our Steam Spotlight review to find out!
Kung Fu style
The best thing about Kung Fury: Street Rage is how well it mimics the look of late eighties-early nineties arcade games. The game starts out with a dramatic animation of our hero jumping down from a moonlit building onto the street below, segueing straight into a standard arcade attract sequence. Borders at the edge of the screen and a CRT-style filter with scanlines and curvature effects make the game look just what you'd see on an actual classic arcade machine.
The sprites look fantastic and animate authentically for the era. Sound-wise, the sound effects, and (anachronistically clear) voice samples match the action perfectly. The game alternates between a few different music tracks, but they still become repetitive all too quickly. Props for not just having one tune, but the game's developers should have recruited a talented chiptunes artist for the soundtrack.
Two buttons of fury
Although Kung Fury: Street Rage looks like a beat 'em up akin to Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, and Final Fight, it actually plays like a simplified mobile title. The game only uses two buttons for input: left attack and right attack.
Players don't directly control Kung Fury's movement – he just dashes left or right as he attacks. Enemies come from both sides, forcing the hero to rapidly alternate between left or right attacks. Kung Fury automatically varies his attacks between standard punches and kicks, split punches, a deadly joy buzzer attack, and shooting his foes' heads off.
As you score multiple attacks in a row without missing, your combo meter and score multiplier rise. This is a (seemingly) endless score rush, so lasting as long as you can and achieving a place on the local scoreboard are the only goals.
The longer you play, the tougher the enemies that appear, such as robots that fall back when you hit them and Nazi nurses who switch sides after each hit they take. Miss too many blows or let yourself get surrounded and you'll lose one of your three non-replenishable hearts. The game ends when Kung Fury's hearts run out.
Furiously light on features and replayability
Kung Fury: Street Rage is a simple game and thus can run on most lightweight computers and tablets. It works perfectly on the original Surface Pro.
Unfortunately, the developers did not include touch-screen controls in the Windows version of the game. That's a cheap move considering the game works fine with iOS and Android touch devices. Windows tablet users can, of course, control the game with a keyboard or physical controller, but touch still would've been appreciated.
Street Rage is a Steam game, but it feels more like a throwaway mobile title. It has absolutely no metagame to speak of, so beating your local high score is the only thing to keep you coming back. Even the similarly dumbed-down mobile beat 'em up Combo Crew at least had some decent things to unlock, multiple modes, and social features. We get none of that with Kung Fury, not even online leaderboards. Nor does this one have Steam Achievements that could've added more long term appeal.
Kung Fury: Street Rage looks exactly like the beat 'em up game adaptation that any fan of the short film would want. Unfortunately, the game doesn't capitalize enough on the film's humor and wackiness, nor did its creators make any attempt at instilling replay value. The price is just about right for what you get here, but I can't help wishing for a properly fleshed out game that could entertain for longer than the movie itself.
- Kung Fury – Windows, Mac, and Linux – $1.99 – Steam Link
In case you missed it, be sure to check out the full Kung Fury short film on YouTube! (Warning: NSFW)