Kung Fu for NES is noteworthy for several reasons. For one, it has the distinction of being among the elite group of original launch titles for the NES, a group that every child of the 80's (well, at least every video game obsessed child such as myself) surely regards with special nostalgia. Even amongst that set, the game was notable for being one of the few not developed by Nintendo. (It was developed by a company called Irem.) The game seems to also be regarded as one of the earliest examples of a beat 'em up, a now firmly established genre.
You can read about the game's mechanics in this review at negativeworld.org. I pretty much agree with everything that reviewer says. Basically, the game is colorful and has an admirable amount of personality and variety within its five short stages (including some bizarre enemies such as the purple-haired "grippers" who grab on to you and drain your life meter, and the midget-sized "Tom Toms" who somersault onto your head if you're not careful), but the last few boss fights (particularly the fourth one) seem too much based on luck. The game's controls feel a bit stiff by modern standards, and the jumping attacks are underused. It's satisfying to punch and kick your way through the levels and overall the game doesn't outstay its welcome, but it does all feel quite basic and very short.
All in all it was nice to revisit a game I barely remembered and that I haven't really played since I was a kid. It's always interesting to see the origins of what is now commonplace (in this case, a beat 'em up game), but the game didn't hold my attention half as well as classics of the same period.
Fight these Kung Fu links:
- Entry at Wikipedia. Apparently the original name of the arcade version was Kung-Fu Master
- Random blog review I came across
- Entry at strategywiki.org, including a comparison of home versions
- Looks like someone made a retro fan sequel of the game