KungFu Kickball Review: Kickin' It Old School
From the moment I saw KungFu Kickball’s trailer, I was hooked. Immediately, I picked up on its Rocket League vibes - another high-octane sports title that is near and dear to my heart. From its angle-based strategic gameplay to its charming 2D, pixelated aesthetics, everything about KungFu Kickball made me want to play it. And I’m so glad I got the chance to do so. KungFu Kickball is super fun and provides plenty of challenge. I just wish more people were playing it.
The premise of KungFu Kickball is simple. You’re a wildly skilled kickball player with special abilities taking on other players in a kickball tournament. These special abilities include power moves such as fireballs, explosive punches, and cyclone kicks – each one specific to the game’s eight playable characters.
The character types are pretty much what you might expect from a game called KungFu Kickball. Monk, Assassin, Monkey King, Panda, and Old Legend are just some of the available archetypes. I gravitated towards the Drunken Boxer – probably because I used to play in a beer kickball team my first few summers after college. The Drunken Boxer just made sense.
Gameplay is fast and hectic, but with such a simple control scheme (along with the joystick for movement, you pretty much only use two buttons to jump, kick, and punch), it’s a very easy game to pick up and start playing. However, it’s much more difficult to master.
Your aim is to score goals by kicking the ball into the opposing gong – which, honestly, begs the question as to why this is called KungFu Kickball and not KungFu "Soccer." At any rate, levels can vary in design, changing up your strategy with each new opponent. For instance, the first level in the single-player campaign is pretty straightforward – relatively flat with a few platforms that can be utilized. Later on, levels can have giant hills to ascend and smaller scoring areas, requiring higher accuracy and timing. It’s much like the aforementioned Rocket League in that regard, since you almost have to play to where the ball is going, instead of where the ball is. Getting into a good position to make the next strike is just as important as knowing when to drop back to defend your goal. This is easier said than done, of course, especially as the difficulty increases as you make your way through the campaign. However, a good kick or scored goal is incredibly satisfying and addicting.
Therein lies KungFu Kickball’s only real problem, though. As addicting as the game is, there is only so much you can do on your own. The game’s online multiplayer option could certainly provide plenty of opportunities for replayability. It’s just that there’s not really ever anyone playing online. At least in my case, I’ve spent a handful of sessions just waiting in the pre-game lobby as the game searches for an online opponent looking for a match. I have yet to actually be successfully paired up with someone. Only once, I was matched up with another player, only for the session to drop before it even started. After waiting 10-15 minutes each time, I just gave up and replayed the campaign. Not the worst thing in the world since the game is as fun as it is. It’s just a bummer that there’s not more of a community for such a well-designed indie game. That said, there is a Discord server available for players who are interested in pairing up with other players manually.
Maybe it’s just that I’m playing on a PS5, and the PC version has a lot more players being matched up online (even though the game features crossplay). I hope that is true, because KungFu Kickball is incredibly entertaining and addicting enough to warrant lots and lots of time spent playing against other players online.