The main question to consider before buying any officially licensed, movie-based game is this: Is the game any good? A second question, which might not matter as much to some people, is this: Is the game original? If you care more about the first question than the second, Kung Fu Panda 2: Be The Master for the iPhone is a decent purchase.
The problem with Kung Fu Panda 2: Be The Master is not that it’s a bad game. It’s got sharp, Retina-enhanced graphics and quality animation. The main problem is that the developers completely ripped off both Fruit Ninja and Doodle Jump, two classic iPhone games, instead of bothering to come up with an original concept.
We’ve seen official collaborations before, like Angry Birds Rio, where the original developers add movie characters to promote a film. But Kung Fu Panda 2 is something different. It unofficially combines Fruit Ninja and Doodle Jump for just a dollar, offering a two-for-one alternative for anyone who doesn’t care about buying a knock-off app.
While the core mechanics are in place– swiping dummies and avoiding beehives in Paws of Power, jumping to a high score in Feet of Fury– these minigames are missing a few major features. Fruit Ninja’s alternative and online modes aren’t included, and neither are Doodle Jump’s scrolling online high scores. Both minigames do have Game Center high scores, though.
There are slots for two more minigames to appear in future updates, and we hope that they’re actually something new, instead of more knock-offs. But let’s just say we’re not holding our breath.
Kung Fu Panda 2: Be The Master comes down to this: If you want to buy an unofficial knock-off of two great iPhone games for the price of one, decorated with cuddly pandas instead of fruit and aliens, go ahead and buy this game. But at the same time, we want to encourage developers to make original games, and not just rip off ideas from each other. In this case, value wins out over originality, but just barely.