Have you ever wondered, what happened after that awesome 80s movie & was the bad guy really a bad guy? Well, Cobra Kai follows that by adapting a popular theory from the Karate Kid!. Is it a testament to the original or a poor shell like the remake? Wax On!.
So naturally Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues the video game takes from the YouTube Red/Netflix smash hit series. Set in between the events of Season 2 and features all the characters you love like Miguel, Johnny, Hawk, Tory, and even Kreese, it also has the Miyagi-Do nerds if you wanna be a geek with Robby, Sam, Daniel, and Demetrius.
The game for some reason gives you the choice to play as Cobra Kai or the Nerd-Herd Miyagi-Do who wield fire and ice respectively. Naturally, you want to be badass and not a wet lettuce and pick Cobra Kai, you are then greeted with a comic style cutscene which presents the story for the game.
The character writing is brilliantly in line with the spirit of the show and the story itself while hardly life-changing allows you to visit familiar areas from the series and kick the ass of familiar characters like Kyler and the Miyagi-wimps.
So you’ve got a badass super sensei like Johnny Lawrence, he’s gotta look good right? Well, the visuals here aren’t exactly All Valley Championship material you dig?. You’ve seen the trailer and the screenshots, yeah the cutscene art is nice but the in-game visuals look barely Ps2 at times, animations are a little clunky and it just smacks of budget, I love it.
The graphics while never really even in the same conversation as most current-gen beat em ups, never took away from the game and I personally loved the budget charm from them. Felt like playing a 90s CGI game that a character from a film would pretend to play while bashing the controller like it owed them money!.
On the audio side of things, the cast return to voice the characters, imagine my immediate joy when I booted on the game to be greeted by that wimp Daniel saying the game title, promptly restarted until I got a proper introduction!.
The music is phenomenal, it sounds like it fell directly out of the show which fans will tell you is a sweet mix of Synth and Rock, I cannot tell you just how sweet this soundtrack is and the audio department deserves a fist bump and beer for it!.
So how does Cobra Kai play? Well, I spoilt it earlier by saying it’s a beat em up, rather than what you would assume it to be as a 1vs1 fighter.
First and foremost, it’s leagues better than the NES Karate Kid, that couldn’t even handle having a badass like Sensei Lawrence in!. Secondly, despite looking like a mobile game, it is one of the deepest, challenging, rewarding and most fun beat em ups I’ve played in a good while!.
There is a lot going on under the hood of this Pontiac Firebird, the general combat alone is more complex than that of recent brawlers. You have punch and kick, combos, environmental attacks, special moves, ultimate move, dojo moves which are universal for your team (naturally Cobra Kai, don’t @ me Miyagi-Dorks), dodge, ground attack, throw, ground throw, parry & weapons you can use and throw.
You are able to juggle wimps in the air to help build up your combo meter, this starts at D and ends at MS, when you raise it you’ll hit harder, raise it further and you can restore any of your allies that may have fainted during the battles, Cobra Kai only faint from being awesome and it is purely a surprise tactic to strike harder.
You have up to 3 allies with you though you have to find them within the story, an hour or so in you’ll be a full unit. You can tag your partners in at any time unless you have just tagged, then it’s a cooldown wait. They all attack when they enter the screen so are great for continuing the combo or getting you some breathing room.
Each enemy is given an introduction when you come across them and have obvious tells of when they will attack. Like the old school, the game is all about threat management and knowing the right and most efficient way of dispatching the hordes.
You get tokens from dispatched foes, food to regenerate health, and secret collectibles to find. You have a Dojo area where you use the tokens to improve characters and your Dojo abilities as well as take on “achievements” which pay tokens so you can further the ass-kicking train.
When everything clicks and you realize just how deep the combat is here for a beat em up it feels fantastic. Kicking items across the stage while parrying a baseball bat goon into a 40 hit combo never gets old and the combat feedback is fantastic, something essential for the genre.
The game has an insane amount of stages for you to walk across and dispense fists like they are going out of fashion. Apparently, you need to finish the game as both Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do for the “True Ending” but who has time to play as the Bonsai car salesman and his nerd pack, am I right?
Now it’s not all kick-ass gaming here, a lot of the levels tend to blend into each other and have this terrible habit of sticking around a little too long, mainly the stages from the show tend to run 15 minutes upwards which is far too long for a brawler stage.
The difficulty is a bizarre Cobra too, the first stage or two seems reasonable and then following that the game randomly jumps between, easy and life munching, revive praying difficulty. Not a problem for a dedicated follower of the Cobra but painting fences and balancing on one foot isn’t going to help the LaLoser squad!.
The frame rate struggles with larger crowds meaning the late game get rather choppy, it also pretty much hits a slideshow anytime you do an environmental attack. I also hit a rather random glitch in which my throws and ground attacks weren’t registering hits, can’t tell if the A.I can dodge them and the game forgot to tell me or it just glitched.
Blatant Cobra Kai fanboyism aside, I really enjoyed the game. Like most fans of the series, I recoiled when I saw the trailer thinking it looked nothing more than a cheap mobile inspired cash in. Visually it works for the style of game and reminds me of the Ps2 era licensed titles with a splash of Simple Series and more heart than any 80s protagonist.
While not perfect, the writing, the gameplay, and the music alone make this a product I would highly recommend to any fan of The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai, and I would even suggest Beat em up fans, in general, could do with putting this on their radar, while not quite as essential to them the combat is just as good as a night of 80s rock, beers, babes and karate.
Also, I should point out there isn’t actually much difference between the two Dojos, fire, and ice withstanding it’s mainly story elements and character visuals AND the crippling shame that comes with being not quite Cobra Kai material, your choice nerd.
Fans of the series and the genre would be remiss to miss this fighter with a bit of fang.