Heroes of Kung Fu is a free browser based game themed around martial artists fighting in a mythical version of Chinese history. The tutorial begins on Penglai island, which is taken directly from the fabled Mount Penglai in Chinese mythology. The island is full of poorly-worded tutorials and rapidly awarded experience points.
Upon reaching level eight, players are allowed to enter the “real” world and exit the tutorial. In order to do this, however, a choice must be made. Players must chose one of the ancient Chinese dynasties which existed before the unification of China. People who enjoyed watching Jet Li fight enemies by the hundred in the 2002 movie titled “Hero” will be familiar with this time period in China. Unfortunately, Heroes of Kung Fu is not nearly as enjoyable as that movie.
The first flaw players will notice with Heroes of Kung Fu is the poor English translation. Shop vendors may tell you that their items are “refreshed for freshness every hour”. Another menu might warn “If you stop now, no exp value is available!”
This wouldn’t be so bad if Kung Fu Heroes wasn’t so heavily dependant on text descriptions for everything in the game. There are no character animations and no sound effects in this game. When you fight an enemy, blow-by-blow text descriptions scroll onto the screen until the end of combat. The combat bears a striking resemblance to the text-based combat in old online games like DikuMud.
Unlike online text based games which were popular twenty years ago, you have no control of your character during combat. When combat happens, you merely watch as your character fights their battle on their own. Sadly, fighting in Kung Fu Heroes is more boring than it should be in a martial arts game.
Besides the non-player enemies found outside the city walls, you can also battle in the arena in town. Like popular social networking games such as Mafia Wars, you can battle other player’s stats and are rewarded for your victory. Once you fight, you’re unable to fight again for a time period. This makes arena battles something you’ll want to do each time you log in.
One of the most interesting innovations in Kung Fu Heroes is the slavery system. Yes, that’s right, you can enslave other human players after you defeat them. Enslaving other players isn’t just a small feature of the game, but rather a major gameplay mechanic. Every player above level twenty is going to want to collect slaves for both the bonuses that slaves give them as well as to avoid being defeated and being enslaved themselves.
If players do find themselves enslaved, they can ask guild mates to help them get free or wait until they are automatically freed from their master after three days. The slavery system is the kind of fascinating player-vs-player system that you simply won’t see explored by western game developers.
Like many social networking games, character progress can be obtained while offline. Once a player reaches level eight and chooses a dynasty, they are able to visit a training hall to hone their skills. Training consists of a simple menu and a real-life time you can expect your character to be done training. Training is something you’ll want to do each day when you log off.
As you might expect of a game which is free to play, training and travel can be accelerated for a few real-life dollars in their online store.
All this fighting, training, and enslaving is for the greater good of your chosen dynasty. At first, there are the standard “kill boars” quests which plague many MMORPGS, but as the levels fly by you are quickly moved into a world where the various warlords of the Chinese region fight to remain independent or conquer the world.
The ancient Chinese setting is one of Kung Fu Heroes or Martial Arts strongest points. History buffs who recognize the names of each of the dynasties during the Warring States period of China will be able to overlook the grammatical errors and stale combat. For most of us, Kung Fu Heroes is just another poorly executed micro-transaction based game.