At the risk of sounding a little mean, KungfuTaxi is something of a masterclass in how to turn a new player off a game. While there are an assortment of individual levels to be mastered in this auto-runner - each of which gently introduces different perils in greater and greater numbers - the natural assumption from the game's interface is that you should be diving straight into the Endless mode, where the difficulty is immediately at its highest.
Frustration abounds as you attempt to second-guess the game's mechanics while they're operating at their most challenging peak. It's true that you can see an individual level option but it's padlocked, and marked as locked until Level 30. Do I need to reach level 30 in the Endless mode? How do I gain levels? Why is this all so confusing? Only when you've dragged your finger along an extremely stubborn interface will you discover the start of the story trail. As a result, the game's first achievement is to frustrate and embarrass you in equal measures.
With that said, let's rewind a little. KungfuTaxi features a pair of passenger-carrying gentlemen racing through a series of levels, hoovering up coins and grabbing the three passengers to be found in each level. Along the way you'll have to dodge a whole host of objects using jumps, double-jumps, slides and so on. It's a little finger-spraining on the iPad's larger screen, but the developers have at least included a number of control layout schemes.
Those obstacles are varied and many. You'll need to slide under leaping white alpacas, yet jump over red ones. Herds of stampeding cattle can be ridden across, but you'll need to time your jumps carefully to avoid a nasty fall into the depths once they've run their course. For every 100 coins you collect, you'll be able to blast through enemies and scenery for a short period of time, a welcome reprieve from a level's fiddlier moments.
It's a game that's hampered by poor collision detection overall, and you'll simply have to adapt and often ignore what the game intuitively suggests you should do. Once you've made that adjustment the problem disappears, but following the strict letter of the pixellated law makes it very easy to miss-time a jump - doubly frustrating during your early moments with the game. Compounding this problem is the tutorial signage in the first ten levels which often encourages you to make the wrong sort of jump, leaving you with no choice but to fall haphazardly into a trap.
This all sounds very negative and it's hard to ignore the game's failings. Yet despite the often frustrating gameplay, KungfuTaxi also has moments of genuine delight - once you've learned to compensate for the game's shortcomings that is. You get an occasional buzz when you cleanly navigate a tricky combination of slides and gentle platform hops. There are also some fun upgrades to be purchased from the cash store, although you'll struggle to make use of these while you're trying to avoid an unfair demise.
There's not enough of that satisfying fun in the game though, and while it looks and sounds fantastic, it's ultimately hampered by gameplay that starts to feel repetitive just at the moment you begin to master it. If this were a free auto-runner with a cash store attached, we'd be more inclined to recommend it. As it is, KungfuTaxi doesn't make much of an argument for its price-tag in the face of some pretty stiff competition.
What's Hot:Once you adjust to the game's many quirks there's a fun if fleeting gaming experience to be had. Great artwork and music.
What's Not:Poor collision detection and a messy interface. Progression through the campaign fast becomes a chore.