Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu

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North American NES box art.

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu, known in Japan as ジャッキー チェン [Jakki Chen] "Jackie Chan", is a platform beat-em-up developed by Now Production and published by Hudson Soft Company for the NES in 1990 and the TurboGrafx-16 in 1991. In the game, you play Jackie Chan who is trying to rescue his sister (or girlfriend in the TG16 game) who has been kidnapped by a Sorcerer. Although the NES port was released first, it seems pretty clear that the game was first made on the TG16 and then ported to the NES.

I first heard about this game because it was a prize on a children's game show, I think Masters of the Maze, but I never saw it played until years later using an emulator. While the game looked good and seemed interesting, I first dismissed it as just another NES platformer. Years later, while looking for video game music to record, I played the game's NSF file and was impressed by the music. Wanting to know where in the game a particular song was played, I took to playing the game through and got to the third level. This was more than enough to impress upon me how enjoyable the game is, so I decided to play the game for real. I beat it on my second attempt on 2018-01-02.

Status

I do not own the game, but I have beaten the NES version.

Review

  • Overall: 6/10
  • Best Version: TurboGrafx-16

Good

  • The game has really attractive graphics. The characters are well animated and feature some of the best cartoon drawings on the NES. Many of the sprites are also hilarious.
  • The music is also very impressive. It uses a coherent timbre throughout the game and several songs have a wonderful traditional Japanese sound which fits the game. The NES audio makes especially good use of the hardware.
  • The controls are very responsive and fluid.
  • Each stage has a unique set of backgrounds, enemies, music, and a boss.
  • I like how there are multiple secret stages, each which requires a new set of skills to master.
  • Unlike many NES titles, the game isn't too difficult, which is a nice change of pace. Rather than kill you, areas with tricky jumps punish you by setting you back or merely injuring you. However, the TG16 game is considerably harder.
  • The game includes a lot of interesting Chinese and Japanese mythology.

Bad

  • There isn't much to explore in the game. Once you discover the hidden bells, you've found everything the game has to offer, and it's just a matter of honing your skills.
  • The NES port eliminates large sections of the levels, and, with only five total, the game is too short. I would have loved to see another two or three levels or at least the rest of the TG16 levels.
  • The NES port also eliminates a lot of the enemies and eliminates complexity for the rest, especially the bosses.
  • The NES port gives you too many lives for the game to be a real challenge, the TG16 is more appropriate as it is harder and gives fewer lives. In fact, the NES manual even gives you a cheat code to get 99 lives.
  • Although the NES manual doesn't make Josephine a boring damsel in distress and suggests that she is a Kung Fu master with abilities comparable to Jackie, she shows no skills whatsoever, so it's just window dressing.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Box Art

Documentation

Maps

Links