Each course is lined with tons of obstacles to ensure you're constantly avoiding a danger or trying to land an impressive jump. Rails and ramps lead to branching shortcuts, and the expansive city is the best element of this game. There are many routes to the finish line, and trying to find the fastest (and safest) way requires a keen eye and deft hand. But there are a number of design issues that make this an arduous experience. The mafia goons attempting to thwart your progress are unbelievably cheap. They hide in dark alleys and around blind corners just waiting for you to cruise by so they can punch you in the neck or whap you with a stick. Once you memorize their positions, you have a chance to avoid them, but they'll frequently knock you down even after you smack them with a karate strike. In addition to an overabundance of enemies, there are a number of issues that sap away any potential fun. First, there's a prolonged crash animation every time you wipe out. It's funny to see your rag-doll model fly the first time, but every subsequent viewing is just a drag. Second, you have a finite number of lives in each race, so you have to be more concerned with staying alive than nabbing cash icons or beating the ticking clock. Finally, because the physics are so unpredictable, you can wipe out in unexpected ways. At times, you may roll through oils drums unscathed, but at other times doing the same thing may knock you out.
Rigor mortis sets in soon after wiping out.
The punishing failure system of the main races is alleviated by the optional free tracks you unlock as you progress through the game. In these modes, the clock is removed entirely and you can crash as many times as you like without fear of losing. The challenge comes from finding the 20 tokens sprinkled throughout the course. This forces you to explore every nook and cranny, taking out-of-the-way shortcuts and grinding high-up rails to nab the prizes. The control problems still exist, and the mafia still doesn't play nice, but at least some of the frustrations of the main races are removed. You unlock more vehicles by collecting tokens, so there are even tangible rewards for your efforts. There is also a two-player mode, though it's little more than a novelty. A second player controls a disembodied hand that can nab cash icons, as well as pick up and fling objects to clear a path or take out the mafia. It can be fun to toss items to and fro, but the first player still has to ride atop an office chair and suffer through all the problems that go along with doing so.
Kung Fu Rider is a poor showcase for Sony's latest peripheral. Even if all of the other issues weren't enough to steer you away from Kung Fu Rider, there is one final nail in the coffin: its price point. Because of its wacky premise and novel control scheme, it would be conceivable to take a flier on it as a $10 downloadable game. But this actually retails for $40, and there isn't nearly enough content to justify that price. With only a few different variations on the basic track designs, you can plow through the whole game in just a few hours, and there isn't much reason to return. But that's a moot point anyway; the significant problems in Kung Fu Rider don't make it worth playing at any price.