|Xiaolin Showdown (2006)
Available for: PlayStation 2
Hey, didn’t I already review this game? Oh wait, no, that was actually "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy." Funny how these two games are so similar then. I love both cartoons, and before I received “Xiaolin Showdown” I was thinking it would be cool if there was a game made after it. Then a couple days later such a thing arrived in my mailbox. So why does it have to be so damn mediocre?
It’s a sad thing that you can basically count on most any movie or TV show video game tie-in to be less than great. There have been exceptions from time to time, such as Rockstar’s great take on “The Warriors,” but these are too few and far between. Suffice it to say that “Xiaolin Showdown” in its cartoon form is a fun little show, and one can imagine how good a game could have come forth from it, but unfortunately we’re just stuck with another brawler that can support up to four players with action that gets repetitive fast and levels that are a breeze to run through in single player mode.
The basic gist of the game is to gather up newly found Shen Gong Wu, which are these mystical items used in battle that have special powers, and to defeat the “evil” Jack Spicer (voiced by Danny Cooksey whom you may recall played Sam McKinney on “Diff’rent Strokes” when that show had jumped the shark) who usually does all his dirty work via his “Jack-bot” inventions. In single-player story mode, you can play as either Omi, Clay, Raimundo, or Kimiko – four Xiaolin monks-in-training under the tutelage of Master Fung. Each of these characters represents an elemental power (fire, air, water, and earth) and as such has their own unique abilities.
So basically what you have here is level after level of the four characters beating shit up in an open area simultaneously while trying to acquire new Shen Gong Wu. It is the Wu itself that separates this game from “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy” in that the Wu can be used by the players during battles to enhance their attacks. There are also side missions with mini-games a plenty, some of which you can wager one of your Wu. If your character wins, then you get to keep that Wu and steal one of someone else’s. Much potential, indeed.
The problem is, you can basically play this game blindfolded and still win. It’s a good time and all, just not exceptionally challenging, either for young or older fans of the show. Like “Billy and Mandy,” “Xiaolin Showdown” has a weird, washed-out look in its colors, although the character models themselves fare a bit better and don’t look as mutated as in the other game. Unfortunately, all the sounds apart from Dojo’s (a Xiaolin dragon) narration and Jack Spicer and Wuya’s (Spicer’s partner in crime) lines seem to be samples lifted from the shows themselves and have a bit of a fuzzy sounding quality to them. This may not actually be the case, but it sure seems like it during the battles. A surefire way to cut corners, by all means, but a bit disappointing at the same time.
Still, if you’re a fan of the show, this game is a fun way to waste some time. Overall, it is better than “Billy and Mandy” in its same style of game, but the lack of any real challenge and looks and sound of the game keep it at the same rating. Younger fans will probably not really care about all the tech specs and have a great time with the game. Someday, though, a game developer will do one of these shows right and come out with a truly great game based on it. Just don’t count on it being in the near future.