Experience the Larusso vs Lawrence Saga

Title: Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: FLUX
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Release date: Out Now
tl;dr: Nice diversion while we wait for Season 3
Price: £35 / $40
Family Focus:Click here for more information.

Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues is inspired by the popular TV show and goes deeper into the Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai saga. Players will have to play as both dojos in order to unlock the ultimate ending. The game begins as former friends Hawk and Demitri start retelling the events that lead to a fight in the principal’s office.

Cobra Kai is a side-scrolling beat’em up where players are taken through various areas represented in the now Netflix TV show. Once you load up the game, you’ll be prompted to decide whose story you want to experience: Miyagi-Do or Cobra Kai. Once selected, players will experience the story from the side of the chosen dojo. Both groups of fighters will have different stats and unique skills. For example, Miyagi-Do will be more of a defensive group with special attacks often resulting in ice-based attacks while Cobra Kai will pack more of a punch and special attacks being fire-based.

As you progress through the levels, you’ll come across and meet fellow dojo friends which can be recruited and allowing players to swap out to a different character when need be. For example, Miyagi-Do lets players play as Daniel-San himself, Daniel Larusso, Samantha Larusso, Robbie and Demitri. You can swamp out characters by using the d-pad or left joystick (depending on what you opted to use as character movement). Between each character change, there’s a cooldown period meaning you can’t constantly swap in/out.

Unlike traditional beat’em up, Cobra Kai features a deep skill tree. Each character has their own unique upgrade path; it can be reminiscent of Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid. What’s makes it even more unique is that once you reach a multi-path section of the skill tree, you have to choose which skill to upgrade as you cannot upgrades all of the skills in the same row. There’s an option that allows you to reset your progress if you want to try something different.

Each character has a punch and kick set of attacks; where some of the later enemies will block either meaning it’s possible a certain enemy type will block your punches or kick (if it’s your first hit); getting blocked results in being stunned for a few seconds leaving you vulnerable for additional damage. Combos are also more complex to pull off; it’s not as simple as mashing both attack buttons. At one point, I had an 89 hit combo but still with a C as a score. You have to mix and match standard attacks with special attacks.

Which brings me to my next point. Each character has a set of unique skill attacks that will deal with additional damage. Using a combination of the trigger and face buttons will result in uniquely looking attacks. For example, Sam can pound the ground and have huge ice chunks, damage enemies. Additionally, once the special meter is filled up, pressing both triggers will launch a powerful attack. You can also pull off a fun and hilarious environment attacks. Some items will glow green meaning that with a shoulder button, you can pick up a close enemy and ram them into it.

Obviously, enemies won’t just stand still and take your attacks. The game offers a nice variety of unique enemies with their own patterns, even nonsensical ones such as Yakuza-wannabe/business looking guys with a carry case. When enemies flash yellow, it means they are temporarily invincible so your attacks will be futile. Additionally, when enemies flash red, it means they are about to unleash a strong attack and they are invincible at the same time, meaning you can’t stop them from attacking. The problem is once there are about 5-6 enemies around you and they all decide to go into red mode, it can easily mean big trouble and even death for your character.

Thankfully, players aren’t helpless. Along with being able to swap between characters, players can also pick up weapons such as baseball bats and guitars, food to restore some health. If you, unfortunately, lose a character in battle, they can be revived by achieving a B score for your combos. They will be revived with half their life bar.

One thing the game doesn’t fully do well is the presentation. While the visuals during the gameplay are fine, the comic book-like cutscenes are fugly; definitely, one of the ugliest I’ve seen and most of the characters don’t look like their real-life counterparts. Overall, the game is colourful and levels are uniquely designed, but yikes those cartoons. Also, not everyone is back for the voiceovers. While Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprise their roles as Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence respectively, some of the casts were seemingly not keen or available to reprise their role. A different voice actor is playing Robbie’s role (Daniel’s Student/Johnny’s kid) and it feels off, especially when Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand; among others return for their roles.

Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues is a great addition to the beat’em up genre. It expands on the genre by adding its own unique twist with the deep skill tree and unique element-based attacks. However, not all is perfect as combat feels off a bit and not as tight as others we’ve seen recently like Streets of Rage 4. The developers also overused the enemies’ red status to the point where some encounters are just frustrating. But if you’re looking for some beat’em up goodness, you’ll be pleased with the depths that Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues has to offer.

The Good

  • A deep customization skill tree
  • Two intertwining stories
<a name="family"></a>

The Bad

  • Feels a bit off, unresponsive compared to other beat’em ups
  • Cutscenes are nightmare fuel
  • Lack of lock-on feature

Family Focus

Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues is rated T for Teen and PEGI12 due to the presence of alcohol reference, mild language, mild suggestive themes and (obviously) violence.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher