Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Although it's technically a comic book, Kung Fu Robot is so fun, kinetic and interactive that young readers may be convinced that it is actually a game. If that's what it takes to get today's kids reading, then so be it. Call it a trick but it's a trick that works.
For obvious reasons, Kung Fu Robot pours all of its efforts into its story and its presentation. In this first installment, readers are introduced to the titular mechanical superhero as he attempts to make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But, much to the dismay of his young boy companion, all of his karate chops and special techniques end up making a mess instead of a meal. It's totally kid's material but that's the point. That's the target audience and for them, the light, funny, action-heavy plot is just what they are looking for.
Kids will also get a kick out of Kung Fu Robot's slick, interactive, comic-book style layout. Swiping down the pages causes panels, text, and characters to slide into frame in whatever way the scene demands. Metallic hands slice through loaves of bread while gongs chime and plates smash. The art style has a great, retro cartoon look with thick outlines and expressive eyes. Kung Fu Robot himself has a memorable design and the frequent sound effects combined with lively dialogue give him a well-defined personality. Tying it all together is a groovy, 60s bass line that funkily drives the whole thing forward.
This first book and its cliff-hanger ending are clearly meant to be the start of a franchise. That's fine but it's hard to shake the feeling this, admittedly free, initial impression could have had more content. Kids like rereading books so the fact that they can probably breeze through the three chapters in ten minutes isn't the issue. Rather, the bonus content, while appreciated, feels underdeveloped. Between chapters two and three there's a Whac-A-Mole game written into the plot that can then be replayed. Aside from the soundboard, it is the only extra feature. Perhaps another minigame between chapter one and two would've helped flesh things out.
Still, parents who want their kids to get a little more out of their iPad apps should check out Kung Fu Robot. It's not like you can find it in a library.