Developer: BIG BAD BRUSH
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s the Christmas season, so there are inevitably going to be a number of Christmas themed games and updates that will hit over the next few weeks, but very few will match the bizarreness of Big Bad Brush’s new app, Kung Fu Santa.

Like any good Santa based action game (what?), Kung Fu Santa starts with a simple note, telling you (Santa) that ninjas have stolen all the Christmas presents. The game then starts with you in an endless high score game trying to recover your missing presents while killing the evil ninjas that are trying to ruin Christmas.

The gameplay in Kung Fu Santa feels like strange play on Ninjump, except that there are three poles to jump between instead of the sides of two buildings. As the game progresses, presents fall down the poles while evil ninjas, gaps in the poles, and poison goop all try to stop your quest. In the end, there’s no way for Santa to ‘win”, as gaining a new high score is the only satisfaction you’ll get.

What really sets Kung Fu Santa apart from Ninjump are the controls, but not in a good way. Instead of simply tapping the screen to jump across, you have to watch for your position on the polls. For example, if you are hanging from the right side of the center pole, you have to tap the screen twice to get to the left pole, once to hang off the left side and another to jump over. With things falling from the sky at random intervals, the inclusion of body placement does add some difficulty, but it comes off as slightly annoying. Killing the enemies is also a bit of a struggle. To kill an enemy in Kung Fu Santa, you either have to jump into him of slide down on his head. On paper this sounds fine, but at times you’ll jump across to kick a ninja off, only to unexpectedly die for no reason. All I can come up with is that the ninja was hanging off the far side of the pole and was unhittable at the time, but there really isn’t a good way of telling which side of the pole the ninjas are on. As a rule, I just did my best to avoid the ninjas, which destroyed my plans of defeating the evil ninja thieves.

In fact, after a few minutes of play the whole game seems fairly pointless. Unlike Ninjump, the closest competition to Kung Fu Santa, the controls are frustrating, the concept of jumping on to and from poles is a bit boring, and there’s really nothing to keep you playing time and time again. Sure, the graphics and the sound are alright, but the game is definitely lacking in the likability department. In a game with a great set up plot, more should’ve been done to cultivate the ninjas vs. Santa story.

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