It's about Chi power.
Lead Artist for Lionhead Studios, Mark Healey, set out to create a video game of his own in his spare time. Over the course of a few years, an innovative and new, gorgeous and outrageous fighting game took shape under the name: Rag Doll Kung Fu.
For the naive and uninitiated, the term "rag doll" is often used in video games and real-time physics simulations to describe a type of character model animation. A model is generally made up of a collection of body parts that move relative to one another. The relative movement of a rag doll's body parts, though constrained to the joints of the model, resembles the flailing limbs of a genuine rag doll. Rag doll physics became all the rage when CPU power permitted its use in games to simulate realistic falling dead bodies instead of the rigid, hand-made and pre-scripted animations gamers were used to seeing.
Control basics: What makes Rag Doll Kung Fu remarkable is that it uses rag doll physics, not for death sequences, but instead as the basis for its gameplay. You, the player, are in control of each limb as you would control a puppet on a string. To move an arm or a leg, click on it and drag it around with the mouse. As you drag a limb, the rest of the body moves with it, though the feet lightly stick to the ground to help maintain some stability.
Walking can be accomplished by clicking and dragging each leg, one after the other in turn, or by grabbing an arm (or head) and just dragging your character along. Jumping is accomplished in a similar manner by dragging, throwing, or just clicking above the head of your character.
Attacks are made using a right-click of the mouse. You may use your a hand, foot, or your head to attack, and moves are generally made relative to the position of the mouse cursor. Postion the cursor to the left of your character and it will attack to the left. Position the cursor to the right and attacks are performed to the right. Right-click and drag from any limb to attack with that limb. As you drag, a sequence of blue arrows will appear indicating the direction and relative power of the attack.
Items can be picked up easily by grabbing a hand with the mouse, via click and drag, and moving the hand over the item. Some items can be eaten and some can be wielded. Mushrooms, for example, are good for flying, while numchucks are powerful weapons. Pick up a pair of numchucks in one hand and spin them around in circles to deal heavy damage to enemies. There are many items to discover in the game, most of which will help to increase either your health or special abilities.
Heath bar: The status of your health is shown on-screen by a bar with a heart on it. Eating fruit will replenish some of your health, as will meditating. To meditate, stand up straight with both feet together and arms apart. Grab your character's hips and drag down to the ground so that it is sitting. If done correctly, your character will close its eyes and mediate with a special aura emanating around it. The health bar will increase as long as the aura continues.
Mushroom bar: Power-up with mushrooms by first picking one, and then eat it by moving the mushroom to your mouth. Repeat to fill up your mushroom bar. Eat too many and your character will throw-up. With mushroom power, grab a hold of an arm or the head and drag your character slowly upward to fly higher into the sky. When the mushroom bar depletes, you will fall back to the ground.
Butterfly bar: Butterflies abound in this game, and they provide you with lightning fists! Fill your butterfly bar by catching blinking butterflies. Once you have collected enough butterflies, do the butterfly pose to earn lightning fists. The butterfly pose is achieved by raising both arms and sliding one leg out to perform a split. Then use right-click hand attacks to send a bolt of lightning at enemies and objects.
Chi bar: Power-up your Chi by making small circles with the mouse. As you power up your Chi, your character will emanate a bright aura around it and your Chi guage will fill. Chi power allows you to jump higher, fight harder, faster, and better.
And that's about all you need to know to make it through this game, and yet there is so much more packed inside. Story mode contains about 20 minutes of hilarious and brash video footage delivered as cut scenes between levels. Hidden stars throughout the single-player levels unlock additional games and features, such as: Rag Doll Soccer, Ninja Onslaught, Chu Chu Wing Poo, and various athletic competition events. Mark has created a challenging and compelling single-player game complete with enemy AI that uses a virtual mouse for movement and attack. Although this puts you on a level playing field with the computer AI, it also means that you may soon outgrow the single-player mode and start looking for more formidable opponents.
Multiplayer: The multiplayer mode will surely extend replay value of the game significantly by allowing you and up to seven (7) others to play via multiple mice on one computer, across a LAN, or over the Internet. Along with the additional games mentioned above, a standard multiplayer death match is included as is Movie Maker, a feature that records you and your friends fighting, playing and carrying on like the crazy fools you are. Depending upon your individual preference for playing against humans rather than AI, the online component of Rag Doll Kung Fu could easily become one of your favorite multiplayer game experiences—especially when you consider that every player has the capability of creating a unique avatar with which to play against others.
Character editor: A character editor is also included that allows you to create your own character 'skins', which is then automatically downloaded to anyone else when you play against them. Create one with your own face and body, use the graphics from one of your favorite video game characters, or draw your own. Mr. Ninya, one of the beta testers and creator of several excellent 'skins', has put up a website that includes a tutorial with step-by-step instructions on how to use the character editor to create a new skin. There will soon be hundreds of characters available to download from all over the Web.
While the game is currently available for Windows only, Mark has indicated that a free demo version will follow the commercial release at some point in the future. In addition, a Mac version may be in the works, as well as the possibility of a version for the Nintendo DS. He also hopes to make a massively multiplayer version of the game someday, too.
There is so much more about this game that I wish I had time to write about. The graphics and special effects are top-notch, triple AAA title quality. The music is wonderful, also created by Mark and his mates, and fits the game's theme and character. Everything about this game is humorous and fun. You can even make your character take a pee or a poo. Rag Doll Kung Fu is a great game made by a very nice and talented guy. And it's less than 15 bucks. What more could you ask for? A free Demo? Click.
A free demo of the game is now available! Click.