Rag Doll Kung Fu
is part of the DNA of LittleBigPlanet
, being the brainchild of Media Molecule's co-founder, Mark Healey. The original game was put together in his spare time while he was still lurking over at Lionhead – apparently it's the result of him and his mates making a £50 kung fu movie and Healey deciding it would be pretty spiffy if there were a game to go with it. Many hours of graft later, the game was released for the PC with mouse-only control, making it into the world just months before Healey left Lionhead to form Media Molecule, the studio behind... Sony's excellent LittleBigPlanet
What we get on the PS3, however, is not the original (you can tell because it has a suffix – Fists of Plastic
). The game was handed over to Tarsier Studios and has undergone an overhaul for Sony's machine.
Like I said, it's in LittleBigPlanet
's DNA. It has rag doll physics all over its big pretty face with Tarsiar having used the good old Havok physics engine. It also does, indeed, have a very pretty face.
Rag Doll Kung Fu
's probably derived from a different chromosome, however. While LittleBigPlanet
is all about being lovely to one another and creating stuff, Rag Doll Kung Fu
is all about kicking 13 different kinds of plastic faeces out of your plastic opponent.
The premise is simple – it's a casual beat 'em up that's based around the idea of kicking an enemy around with physics akin to those of a string-bound puppet. Thankfully, the strings have been left somewhere on the studio floor.
And casual it is. It's the sort of game that makes you giggle, not because you've just made someone bleed from their eyes, but because it's downright delightful.
So, the physics. It works just how you want a fighting game about puppets to work. For me, the best bit about Rag Doll Kung Fu
is flinging my fighter around the screen like he is actually on wires.
With levels littered with platforms to chuck your character at, in places it feels like the beat-'em-up genre has been spliced with an old school platformer – a sick and ingenious experiment that's helped massively by the 2.5D presentation.
The characters genuinely flop around like someone with the speed of a demented squirrel is whizzing their fingers across the top of the screen, pulling strings from the future that don't tangle up in each other.
The fighting is not restricted to the traditional one-on-one brawls you expect from a beat 'em up. That's there and fully accounted for, but there are other challenges borrowed from elsewhere, such as the shooter-like King of the Hill and a basketball-type Steal the Fish mode (in which you fight over a fish, then grab points by dunking it in a basket).