Kung-Fu Heroes Review

This review marks my first time playing Kung-Fu Heroes, although, it’s a game that has recently set off an old memory. Most gamers my age fondly remember visiting their local video rental store and perusing the video game section. At the time, before I could even read, I relied on box art - as I’m sure many others did - to choose my weekend rental. Some games were obvious choices such as Ultra’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Sunsoft’s Batman. This wasn’t because of their gameplay, but because of their immediately recognizable box art. Picture my surprise when I saw the box art for Kung-Fu Heroes on the Nintendo Switch NES library. Seeing this brought back a memory of seeing it on the shelf all those years ago. For whatever reason, as memorable as the art is, I can’t recall ever renting the game. Fast forward to the present and I finally get my chance to play the game. So, what are the joys and cons of Kung-Fu Heroes?

Gameplay is Decent, But Isn’t Without Issues

I never expected much from Kung-Fu Heroes, but I ended up enjoying the gameplay, for the most part. The gameplay is quite simple here: you play as Jacky (and Lee during 2-player co-op) and must defeat enemies to open the level’s exit. You have several options to defeat your enemies which includes a basic punch attack, a flipping jump attack, another version of the flipping jump attack called the Miracle Kick, and a sword. Enemies come in many varieties, and some require the use of certain attacks, so you’ll be using your full arsenal to take them down. Now, you don’t start with the sword, or any Miracle Kicks at your disposal, so you must find those items as you play. You find these items, as well as a variety of other items and power-ups, by punching rocks. As a whole, the gameplay is quite fun and definitely makes for a good 2-player experience. However, there are some issues that hold the game back.

The first thing I noticed is that the game has wonky collision detection. It takes some getting used to, and can be frustrating as hell even when you do. You have to be dangerously close to the enemy to actually hit them, even though it seems like they have no issues hitting you. One thing that helps here is one of the game’s power-ups, which essentially works like throwing fireballs in Super Mario Bros. These power-ups aren’t easy to come by, so you’ll have to resort to skill most of the time. The second thing that I had a problem with was the sword. I was aware of the item before playing the game because of the instruction manual, but I had no idea on how to use the damn thing. Neither the game or its manual tell you how to use the sword, which is frustrating seeing as some enemies can only be defeated with it.

The final thing that I must mention is the game’s difficulty during its final few levels. It goes from manageable for most skill levels, to nearly impossible. Part of this is due to the wonky collision detection, the other part is due to the number of enemies on-screen. Not only do you get swamped by enemies, but they also use projectile attacks making it hard to get close enough to attack them. You especially get swamped in the final level, which I was only able to complete using the NES app’s save state function.

Mediocre Presentation Comes with Surprising Sound Effects

Kung-Fu Heroes has graphics and sounds that are pretty representative of its time. They aren’t necessarily awful, but they also aren’t some of the best on the console. One thing Kung-Fu does particularly well is character design. The characters have a nice cartoonish design that I quite like.

One interesting thing about the game’s presentation are its sound effects. Some of these are ripped straight out of other popular Nintendo games. Such as the sound when getting hit, which is of Link grunting when taking a hit in The Legend of Zelda. The other is the 1-UP sound from Super Mario Bros. that occurs when punching blocks.


Kung-Fu Heroes isn’t a must play NES game, but if you’ve already traveled throughout most of the library, then it’s worth a look. One thing that makes it particularly desirable is its 2-player co-op. The gameplay works well enough and is actually fun during the initial stages of the game. It’s a good idea to read the instruction manual and possibly a guide or two before jumping in, so you at least have knowledge on your side.

Final Score: 0

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