Karate with karate, not kung fu – Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues is a side-scrolling beat ’em up out now on the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch on the 24th of November. Does it kick like a mule or a… fool?
Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues is as divisive as the TV series. This game from Flux Game Studio and GameMill Entertainment is a continuation of the Karate Kid universe, bringing in characters from the series including both Daniel and Johnny and the students of Miyagi-do and Cobra Kai dojo. Yes, that means Hawk [insert overused bird screech effect]. I hate that guy on so many levels.
Full disclaimer: I grew up on the Karate Kid, well, I had a fairly balanced diet, and even performed my fair share of crane kicks in the playground (not real fights, of course). For that reason, I have a love for the series as much as any other boomer – the TV show too. Even if it’s a bit of a Marmite production.
Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues PS4 Review
When it comes to the series, it’s corny, predictable and almost rage-inducing with the character arcs – why the eff would [take your pick] do that?! Why the hell do they have to use a bird screech for Hawk and how did a 15-year-old get a back tattoo?
These points are essential as they’ll translate over to the game, and in some ways, those annoying elements are often in your face in Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues. The voice talents are the actors from the show, and quite honestly, they’re great. William Zabka (Johnny) has the coolest voice – he could read the phone book, etc.
Between missions are animatic cutscenes telling the story thus far. It’s a bit like GI Joe Operation Blackout, but the artwork is much more polished in a comic book aesthetic. Again, it’s corny and if you aren’t familiar with the TV show, may think it’s of poor quality, but it’s to be expected.
In Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues favour, it doesn’t feel forced by repeating elements in the show. The latter had an irritating habit of showing flashbacks as if the audience attention span had been corrupted by Saturday morning TV and oversized bowls of sugary cereal. The game captures the mood well and does it as a standalone experience.
A Shuffle Of Fire And Ice
In the game you play either as Miyagi-do or Cobra Kai, taking control of all the characters in that faction through a side-scrolling beat ’em up set up. Miyagi-do plays the defensive game with more health, while Cobra Kai are heavy hitters.
I opted for Miyagi-do as the style is my favourite. While they focus on the defensive game, that doesn’t mean that it’s much different to Cobra Kai as there are plenty of moves to perform, albeit, specials are ice-based, Cobra Kai’s are fire.
Using the elements to identify each other wasn’t the best, in my opinion, and while realism isn’t the focus, some of the effects in Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues are a bit over the top, and special effects will appear mid-screen, overlapping other graphical elements. Only a minor flaw, but this coupled with the bush baby eyes of Sam (didn’t look good) made me exit out and switch to Cobra Kai.
Starting with Miguel, the gameplay was much better, an initial super being a tiger uppercut style punch that was useful, and the flames actually worked well. Before long, classic Johnny was in the mix, but his double spinning punch was so lame, it should have been reserved for Demetri.
Slide To The Right
As a side scroller, the action in Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues takes place over some pretty big levels with environmental damages, weapon pickups and health. These levels mostly resemble the Karate Kid universe but exaggerated a bit to make it interesting.
Typical enemies are usually a pushover, but after brief title card introductions, you’ll encounter larger enemies and have to use the counter (circle button) more often. This works pretty well, and if you time it right, you’ll grab an enemy around the ankles and launch them towards the screen.
Smashing an enemies head into a car or throwing them into a portaloo is also hilarious and I never tired of it. This was one of the biggest highlights of Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues gameplay, mixing up specials with combos and then finishing them off by using objects around you, pressing the R1 button.
Equally, moves are easy to perform too. Standard button presses are punch, kick, jump and counter and holding the L2 button as a modifier will do a dojo special, the R2 button for the individual’s special move. As you accumulate enough combos et al., you’ll get a notification of your ultimate move, pressing the L2 and R2 buttons together.
Make Your Move
While moves are easy to perform, I found them a bit counter-intuitive to do as you’ll be using these more often than the basic moves due to crowd control and maximum damage. They have a brief cooldown each time, and the wait isn’t an issue, I personally didn’t like holding the shoulder buttons almost constantly.
There is a way to build up the power of your techniques though in your respective dojo, and these are paid for with in-game currency – won through defeating an enemy with bigger rewards for the complexity and variety of your attacks.
You can opt to build an individual’s special moves or the dojo’s which will upgrade the power, hit points and cooldowns for all your members across the board. These players in Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues can be swapped out with a tap of the d-pad.
Thankfully you can reset your points if you prefer a different build or if you’d prefer to work on your favourite character rather than the dojo and vice vera. While Johnny is the best character in the show, Miguel was undoubtedly my go-to character with Cobra Kai.
Brown Belt, Going For Black
The visuals in Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues are really good, the animation is a bit choppy at times, but overall, the presentation met my expectations and enabled me to indulge in the era of the show. It would have been nice for a few licensed 80s tracks, but y’know, just a preference.
You shouldn’t really take the game any more seriously than the TV show, but this is a serious game in that it’ll keep you entertained and busy for some time – whether alone or as a two-player. As in-game currency drops are frequent but quite stingy, it can take some time to unlock all the moves and mastery skill trees.
I found it was quite amusing that the focus is on karate and in the opening level you’ll be picking up a baseball bat. Karate swing! Additionally, you can pick up gi and belt combos to influence the power of your attacks, coin drops and more, so plenty of preferences accommodated for.
For a more polished experience, Streets of Rage 4 would be your go-to side-scroller. However, if you want an over-the-top enjoyable experience that still has those repetitive elements of a typical brawler, Cobra Kai The Karate Kid Saga Continues does deliver in the B-movie type vibe that the show gives off. A cult following than is doing a mae geri to the mainstream.
Note that the Nintendo Switch version is out on the 24th November.
- Satisfying combat (particularly environmental hazards).
- Captures the Cobra Kai vibe well.
- Plenty of skill paths to follow.
- Combat modifiers/cooldowns are clunky.
- Classic side-scrolling repetition.
- Lots of characters but repeated soundbites annoying.