I love ninjas. Yes. I do. I wanted ninjas at my wedding. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted them for, exactly, but I knew that I wanted them. They have to be the coolest good/bad guys around. So, when THQ sent me All Star Karate for the Wii, to review as a potential Father’s Day pressie, I was very excited.
The one thing I love about the Wii is that it brings the whole family into the gaming experience. Those not playing the game have loads of fun egging the players on, and everybody gets a turn to look like a maniac with co-ordination issues. All Star Karate promised lots of this kind of fun and so I raced off to hubby and stuck him in front of the Wii.
In the game, players follow a young martial arts novice who stops a gang of ninjas (!) from attacking an elderly man. He turns out, of course, to be a karate master who takes the young novice under his wing and starts to teach him the techniques and disciplines of karate.
In Career mode you master various moves, using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, to achieve the different coloured belts. You can also spar with each other in Challenge Mode (watch out for lamp fittings here, I nearly killed our lounge) or you can create your own move sequences in Kata Editor.
The game itself is easy enough to master, with plenty of authentic moves and actions to assuage the average karate lover. Hubby did occasionally mutter about inaccuracies but I think he was mollified by his chance to execute his well honed moves in front of his family.
Sadly, the game is not as action packed as some other similar titles. What you have here is a game that hints at fabulous karate action but delivers more of a rhythm game instead. If you want hardcore fighting action then step away slowly.
While this may seem like a negative point, it can actually be quite calming. It’s also a fair workout. So if your hubby is starting to spread where he shouldn’t be, then sneaking this title into his Father’s Day stocking may help with the, ahem, distribution a little.
The controls are also a little bit sticky. You feel as if the move you just made should have done one thing, but sometimes it doesn’t register. Initially it’s not that annoying, but when the action starts to get a bit more intense, it gets irritating, fast.
The storyline is also terribly clichéd. Why can’t anyone come up with an original story for a karate chopping game, I ask you? This was lacking only moments of waxing and chopstick fly catching to be yet another Karate Kid.
This is a real pity, because the game isn’t that bad overall. It does exactly what it should. It’s entertaining, occasionally funny, brisk and full of happy kicking. It may not compete with the big boys from this genre with some control and story issues, but it is entertaining and an invigorating workout.
The game costs £17.99, which is a bargain price for a Wii title and makes it that little bit more affordable. It is definitely the B-movie of kick-em-ups and if your Dad is an avid gamer, perhaps not quite right for him. But as a fiesta of family entertainment that can be enjoyed by all ages (our three year old loves it) and that Dad can enjoy in a few rare breaks, it’s a worthy Father’s Day present.
NOTE: if you're looking for the cheapest price for All Star Karate, you could check the price comparison here.