The Retro Critic

Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu

Long before there was a Jackie Chan animated series (see 2000’s Jackie Chan Adventures), there was the cartoonish game Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu.

And loads of Jackie Chan movies, obviously…

The game was first released on the NES back in 1990 then was adapted for the TurboGrafx-16 only a year later. Both games followed the same plots and were altogether pretty similar. That said, the latter version was infinitely more polished and interestingly a tad more challenging.

The story is standard Mario-style fare as Jackie’s sister is kidnapped by a creepy monster and brought to some faraway location where you need to obviously get to in order to save her.

Sister Attack 16

As you can probably already tell, the game looks like fun.

It’s bright, colourful, goofy and simple enough to be accessible to any gamer, whether they’re fans of the actor or not.

The NES intro was basically the same type of deal except Jackie Chan looked much less like Jackie Chan and the vampiric bad guy was a bad gal.

JAckie Chan Intro NES

Ok, so it looks slightly less epic but it still seems like a good time.

Before the game officially starts, we follow Jackie as he, I’m guessing, meditates and finds inner peace.

Meditation 16

No hurry, dude.

It’s cool.

She’s still alive… probably.

Jackie then goes for an inspiring chat with his master.

Master Roshi 16

M-Master Roshi?!

I know his beard’s a bit longer and stuff but, come on, that’s Master Roshi from Dragon Ball Z, no question.

Eventually, you finally set off on that rescue mission of yours and face all kinds of enemies.

From these deadly little guys:

ittle Enemy 16

To tigers!

Tiger Wrestling 16

Yup, Jackie wrestles tigers.

He punches them too!

Tiger Punch 16

Bet you didn’t know that.

This also happens in the NES version of the game except there, it’s really more of a glitch tiger, a “Cheetahman” in disguise, if you will.

Glitch Tiger

Occasionally, you meet frogs you can punch so they can spit out various items and power-ups.

It’s retro gaming animal cruelty, for sure, but hey: it works.

Frogs 16

The controls are a bit different in each version.

On the TurboGrafx-16, you get to fight enemies more like in a straight-up fighting game, with various kicks, punches and special moves to choose from. This is mostly because, every so often, an enemy (worms, green goop) shows up who’s way too short to hit normally, or way too high-up (birds, butterflies) to reach without performing some kind of acrobatic jump.

Animals 16

It takes some getting used to but once you do get a feel for it, it works fine.

One thing that makes that version of the game harder is the fact that some enemies take a couple of hits. On the NES, the overall pace is somewhat faster in that you can just blast through everyone in a single trek. Here, you do need to take a breath, stop once in a while, and assess your enemy’s unique pattern before taking an extra second to kick it in the face.

Both games have some variety to them in that they include special stages, basically mini games which pop up here and there to make the whole thing breathe a bit.

Special Stage 1 16

This one basically involves Jackie jumping from cloud to cloud picking up various fruits. On the NES, it’s a similar thing except you’re running and jumping throughout instead of simply bouncing around the same screen. 

This next one’s fun if a little odd as you kick these targets on this rock repeatedly until it crushes a bunch of mushrooms.

Rock Mushrooms 16

By the way, “Welcome To Special Stage” already sounds a bit weird so if you take out the word “To” on top of that, it essentially becomes near-meaningless.

Welcome Special Stage NES

Yes, welcome special stage.

Good to see ya.

As you get closer to the main boss, the tone of the game gets somewhat darker and, very soon, Jackie Chan is stepping on skulls Conan The Barbarian-style:

Skulls 16

Dark but kinda cool.

The bosses throughout are great fun in both versions whether you’re facing big evil statues:

Boss NES

Or giant scary spiders:

Giant Spider 16

The games end exactly how you’d expect, with Jackie saving the day.

One of the funniest parts of the game is easily its closing credits as the game designers amusingly paste cartoon versions of their own faces onto the various bosses’ bodies:

Game Design

Game Designer

Totally what I would do if I ever designed a game.

Overall, I would definitely recommend either version of the game. They’re both enjoyable, inventive side-scrollers with some good ideas, a cheeky sense of humour and, of course, Jackie Chan.

What more do you want?

I have to say, though, that the NES could have been a little more flattering to Mr Chan in their title menu.

Jackie Chan NES

I mean…

Jackie Face

Come on!