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Review: Kung Fury: Street Rage – Instant classic 80s arcade fun

iOS game based on the film based on 80s cop movies is a game based on 80s arcade classics. And it’s great.

Price: Free
Version: 1.1
Size: 35.8 MB
Developer: Hello There

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Kung Fury

It’s so subtle, yet so obvious. Kung Fu-ry. It’s a pastiche that’s so simplistic in its parody that it has no business being so good – that’s the general ethos of what has pretty much become the Kung Fury franchise.

Let’s start from the beginning. If you don’t know what Kung Fury is, allow us to enlighten you. Back in 2013, Swedish filmmaker David Sandberg started a crowdfunder for a film that pays homage to 1980s martial arts and police action films. The goal was US$200,000, but from December 2013 to January 2014 pledges reached $630,019.

The cartoon violence isn't over the top, but it's there – 80s pixel gore in all its glory

The cartoon violence isn’t over the top, but it’s there – 80s pixel gore in all its glory

The story, which unfolds over a half-hour filmic short follows Miami detective Kung Fury – a man with super-charged kung fu capabilities, after being bitten by a cobra. The film was released online for free recently and can be watched on YouTube here here. It currently has 15m views, and is ridiculous is its dedication to the cause.

Part of the the draw is down to 80s emblem David Hasselhoff. He has a small voice role in the movie, but more importantly, he agreed to perform on the official soundtrack. The music video for this came out shortly before the movie and was probably one of the key reasons the actual film became so popular. That can be watched here.

Make sure you get those combos for high scores

Make sure you get those combos for high scores

Once again – this shouldn’t have been good – yes, Hasselhoff; a meme potential so high it’s practically become a cliche in its own right. But still, the direction, the stylisation is so accurate that it took Hasselhoff’s 80s throwback power, and reset it so it was fresh once more.

This whole thing feeds right into Kung Fury, the iOS game. It has no business being such a dedicated arcade throwback – it’s key influence is certainly Streets of Rage (the subtitle of the game even nods to this) but without the narrative – it’s stripped back to the purest simplicity.

Just about got on the leaderboard there!

Just about got on the leaderboard there!


There are plenty of games on the iPhone claiming to be retro but they misses so many nuances. The fast ramping up of difficulty (iOS games tend to ease you in these days), the pure focus on a high score (narrative? Pah – who needs it!), multiple enemies to destroy, button-bashing mayhem – Kung Fury does it all properly. Bash, die, restart; repeat.

So here’s what happens – after the wonderfully clipped animation of the intro, you’re dropped in the middle of a typical urban environment straight out of the 1980s – i.e. thugs around every corner. And they start slow, but very quickly they come at your fast. Your job, as Kung Fury, is to beat ’em up. There’s no directional buttons – but then there’s no particular direction to go in. There are two buttons – one to attack left, another to attack right. The attacking is what moves your player. The more bad guys you destroy, the higher your score. However, that won’t get you on the high score leader board. The more bad guys you hit without missing any and punching dead air, the more your score rockets thanks to combo points. Classic arcade score-booster.

Fail fast, then get back into it – fast-paced arcade action at its best

Fail fast, then get back into it – fast-paced arcade action at its best

This is where it gets addictive. At first, it’s simple button-bashing. Eventually, you get hit, after three times your lives are gone and you’re done. It’s over pretty quickly. Then you get the hang of the combos, and the scores are incredible! One hour later, you realise you’re still playing with one recurring goal: keep beating your personal death.

It’s not imaginative, it’s not complicated – it’s simple as hell, but the graphics, the gameplay, the mentality – they’re all so dedicated to the cause that the Kung Fury machine has continued seemingly without putting a foot wrong. Oh, and it’s free. You can pay a small amount to remove ads if you want to, but they didn’t bother us too much.

Even if you don’t care to get dragged into the film, the music video – if that all seems a little ‘too much’ for you – then just play the game, because this is about as faithful to a classic 80s arcade machine you’re going to get on the iPhone.