After seeing Invincible Tiger promoted at various events, and having the chance to play it in all its 3D glory pre-release, I was heavily anticipating the arrival of this Xbox Live Arcade title.
Despite deep down believing that 3D gaming, and movies too for that matter, to be the resurgence of the same fad, you can’t fault Blitz Arcade for pushing this innovation, or Namco Bandai for publishing it. But can the game muster more than being branded Invincible Tech Demo: Legend of Han Tao?
The first thing that will strike you when playing is the amazing look of the game, whilst only being a simple brawler it manages to pack a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” into very simple 2D levels. From the beautiful artwork of the scenes between levels, to the animations of leaves flowing from the trees all the way to the filter that makes you feel like you are the star of your very own cheesy 70’s kung fu movie.
The music doesn’t do much to alleviate this feeling as it is iconic of the stereotypical music you would expect from such a movie. When giving the look and the sound and feel of kung fu movie, you can’t but join in, so expect yourself to be shouting out “yah!” every now and then.
The game is meant to be played in 3D, and if you have the chance to do so, it is very much recommended. As mentioned before, each level may only be two-dimensional, but the world that exists around these two planes makes up quite a scene to behold.
There are items both in the foreground and background, from buildings to trees, which you can scale up or down in your nimble kung fu master ways, and the ability to see the game with a great differentiation between these is worthwhile. However, if you lack the necessary equipment to view it this way, and in all honesty it is very likely you are, you are left with an average brawler.
The gameplay falls under the category of easy to learn and difficult to master as there are just two attack buttons, one for kick and one for punch. However, you are able to dodge up and down, and roll to either side making timing an important aspect of gameplay.
As is positioning yourself within the level; sometimes you’ll need a second to recharge your health by meditating and you’ll need a little freedom to do so, in which case setting yourself up near an interactive object such as a pole to flip off or a bucket to kick at an enemy is preferable. All such locations are marked with a handy red glow whenever you are near them, and allow you to daze the enemy or even escape as you clamber up the branches of a tree.
A particularly novel aspect of the game is the “super” mode you are able to attain, which is shown via a ying and yang symbol at the top of the screen. By dodging attacks you are able to fill one side, and by landing hits or being hit you fill the other side, and only when each side is in balance can you enter this mode. Despite not being game-changing, it is certainly an element that will add to the enjoyment of the game.
Whilst level bosses will provide you with an element of tactics, and the ability to dodge or roll out of the way when you find yourself swarmed by enemies is there, the controls will often feel unresponsive and what felt like a well-timed dodge ends up as being a foot in your face. This kind of thing causes Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao to move beyond repetitive and into frustrating, which is depressing to see in a game that looks and sounds so good, as well as a game that is trying to push technology forward.
Reviewer’s note: The XBLA version was tested for this review
The game is graphically impressive, with wonderfully interactive levels, and whilst in my heart of hearts I think 3D is gimmick, you can't help but praise the people who dare to put their toes into the icy pond of innovation.
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The difficulty is challenging, but not impossible, which leads to a rewarding experience overall. However, limited combat makes the game feel repetitive.
Like stepping foot into your very own kung fu movie, you can't help but get caught in the groove of Invincible Tiger's sounds.
Invincible Tiger is an average length for an arcade title, but with a smattering of extra features such as multiplayer and endurance, you'll certainly receive some bang for your buck.
Invincible Tiger is a stylish, fun and frantic brawler. It has no great depth to it, but enough challenges and content to keep you playing until you feel like you're in your very own 70's kung fu movie.