Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic GDC 2009 Preview
Sony has been making the most of their Sixaxis controls with games like Flower, but they’re finding that motion controls make a perfect fit for other titles coming to PSN, not least of which being the quirky puppet brawler Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic.
This quirky four-player fighter started life in 2005 as a PC game distributed over Steam, but the PS3 version is a radically different beast. On the PC, the mouse was central to the control scheme: your mouse movements made your string puppet execute huge flipping kicks and twirls. On the PS3, you tap punch and kick buttons instead, or use simple Sixaxis motion commands to perform “Chi moves” like fireballs and Superman punches. On the PS3, Rag Doll Kung Fu feels closer to a rowdy casual brawler. There are four different play modes; my favorite was Dodgeball, in which players scored points by hurling objects at each other (think “competitive Super Mario Bros. 2”).
Rag Doll Kung Fu designer Mark Healy went on to form Media Molecule in 2005 after the PC release, and you can definitely see some of the quirky characteristics of his design style in RDKF that made their way into Littlebigplanet. The martial arts masters look utterly helpless to the strange kung fu show you’re putting on at their expense. The PSN iteration feels like a wholly different take on the concept, but like the original, it’s still a blast to play.