Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda

Fall 2008 Video Games
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Xbox
If you've seen the animated Dreamworks' movie by the same name, you already know what this game's about . Po the Panda is an apprentice noodle maker who daydreams of being a Kung Fu master fighting alongside the greatest legends of martial arts. And through a twist of fate he's chosen to go on an epic journey to become exactly that and save his valley homeland from evil creeps.

The game starts off well into that storyline with Po sauntering into a village teeming with bad characters looking for a fight. As you might expect from a movie-tied game, the animation and graphics are superb, seemingly straight from the flick. The sound work and voice-overs are top-notch, too. Even the action plays fast and furious with its 13 levels adapted from movie scenes.

Of course, that may be an issue for parents who are sensitive about beat- 'em-up entertainment and don't want to introduce more violence-even relatively harmless cartoon violence-into their children's lives. The goal here is for Po to conquer all levels and, with help from his quick-witted sidekick and teacher, Shifu, become "The Dragon Warrior." And on that path, combat is the main course. And while there is nothing gory, no graphic nastiness, blood or guts (beaten characters sort of disappear), everybody's Kung Fu fighting.

This game comes right out of the multi-level platformer manual. Like so many before it (think Spyro the Dragon and Over the Hedge--except doing kung fu), the main character progresses from scene to scene fighting various foes, bashing barriers, leaping hurdles, earning golden coins and other upgrades and extras (nutrition, "chi," etc.), and learning new fighting combos and styles. Along the way from battle to battle, there are plenty of guffaws, mini-games and even puzzles.

Kids who loved the movie undoubtedly will love this well-made, kid-friendly--though too-short-game.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Activision, Inc.
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Electronics Stores

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