Before I begin my review of Kung Fu Rider, I should explain that I'm actually very excited about the PlayStation Move technology and I'm eager to see developers take advantage of the hardware. I think there's potential in Sony's latest motion-enabled device, and while I don't think it's going to dominate the PlayStation landscape, I do think there will be a handful of awesome Move games that I wouldn't want to play in any other way.
I say these things because my experience with the PlayStation Move launch title Kung Fu Rider have been abysmal, and it's not because I dislike the PlayStation Move. It's because Kung Fu Rider is incredibly frustrating, repetitive and it's one of the most unresponsive downhill racers I've played. Honestly, most of this game is a total disaster.
The premise of Kung Fu Rider is absurd and actually kind of funny: you play as Toby and his assistant Karin in an attempt to escape the mafia (or perhaps more accurately, the Triad) by racing down the streets of urban China in an office chair. The only story I could glean from this game is that the mafia is after Toby and Karin for a job they've done, as Toby is some sort of detective. Strangely, the only actual dialogue you get is on the main menu, where Toby and Karin frantically discuss their escape options as the mafia patrols outside.
And that's all the explanation you get! Toby and Karin speak the same line before every stage and after clearing all the missions, and there's no ending cutscene. The entire package is given embarrassingly little context, but I suppose riding a chair down a hill doesn't need much explanation.
Kung Fu Rider only requires one Move controller, but a second player can join in to interact with the level in a similar fashion as the multiplayer support in the Super Mario Galaxy games. When playing, you point the Move Controller at the screen and shake it up and down in order to speed up Toby or Karin as they roll down the stage. Turning the controller to the side controls turns and flicking it sharply upwards causes the character to jump.
If you're reading carefully, you might have noticed that a problem in the control mechanics is already obvious. In order to accelerate, players need to constantly flick the controller up and down. This is not only tiring, but it directly conflicts with the jump motion, which is just a more forceful flick of the controller upwards. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally jumped when trying to accelerate, and there were an equal number of times when I desperately needed to jump but didn't because the game didn't register the motion of my controller properly.
This poor control scheme applies to almost every aspect of the Kung Fu Rider controls. Turning is loose at best and ducking under objects can be very inconsistent. Sometimes you'll pass under a truck just fine while other times your character will just barely touch the side and suddenly all hell breaks loose.
Wiping out is actually one of the most frustrating parts of Kung Fu Rider, as you have a limited number of crashes before you have to start the entire stage over again, with no checkpoints to speak of. This wouldn't be a problem if crashes were few and far between, but it seems like almost everything in Kung Fu Rider can be a lethal force against your character. Even a small road sign, which is almost invisible to the player as he or she is speeding down the hill, can knock the hero in the face and restart the race.
Now sometimes when I wiped out it was totally my fault, but other times a car would come speeding up behind my character and knock me to the ground. This car would be completely off camera, meaning that there was no way for me to respond as a player.
It's also annoying when you play the same stages over and over again, which is exactly what Kung Fu Rider forces you to do.
The only moderately redeeming aspect of Kung Fu Rider is the game's visuals. The environments are very nicely detailed and the game rarely, if ever, slows down. And watching Toby and Karin tumble through the air is definitely hilarious, but it's still not enough to warrant playing this otherwise frustrating mess of poor motion controls.