Cobra Kai the television show has made huge waves as it’s now reached its third season. The first season started by recontextualizing the original Karate Kid movie by giving the villain of the first movie, Johnny Lawrence, a more in-depth backstory and a redemption arc.
From there, the second and third seasons have grown the world and gave us interesting stories and a fresh take on the original franchise, though at its core is Johnny Lawrence’s Cobra Kai versus Daniel Larusso’s Miyagi-do.
It’s not surprising that someone has finally decided to capitalize on the growing franchise by creating a video game out of it. It’s just a shame that this is the result because everything feels wrong with Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues.
The most glaring issue is that Cobra Kai feels like it exists in a different universe, and yet also feels like it’s the same universe as the show. Without spoiling anything season three added some massive changes to the television world of Cobra Kai but Cobra Kai the game doesn’t seem to attempt to undertake these changes.
At the same time, there are significant issues with the story. Having certain characters in certain locations feels very awkward at best. Having certain characters fight also feels “wrong.” but most importantly the game starts to grab random characters and throw them into the game. It’s one thing to have Robbie’s criminal buddies from the early part of the first season making appearances. While the group appears entirely too many times, at least these feel like enemies that would appear. But then the game starts to grasp at straws and throws in Tom Cole who is a rival auto dealership owner, or Yasmine, a random character from the first season of the show. These are not interesting characters in the show but they also don’t feel like they have anything to do with the dojos or their conflict.
There are so many random bosses in Cobra Kai: The Series Continues it’s a little insane since none of them feel interesting or relevant to the actual show, nor the game.
The story doesn’t help much and the fact is, with this being its own story, the game holds a “Final boss” over the players’ heads which fans of the show probably will be able to guess easily.
Truthfully, there’s not much reason for the characters to fight, but at least that’s not the core of the game. I don’t think most players are buying for the in-depth story. They want a fun experience of being a member at either of these dojos, whether it be Cobra Kair or Miyagi-do. Unfortunately, the game can’t produce a good reason for that either.
Both dojos eventually get four characters and conceptually having Joey Lawrence, Miguel, Tory, and Hawk all on one side as they face off with Daniel Larusso, Sam, Robbie, and Dimitri could be good, the fact is they all play very similar to each other.
Each dojo is given four special attacks, and while upgrades can be purchased which change any special attack along two different branches, they mostly remain the same. Each character gets four unique special attacks and seeing each character have a different moveset feels good at first. There’s entirely too much game for such a minor change. You’ll likely spam your special attacks over and over, and with each character having just the eight special moves, as well as a full normal move set sounds good, after a couple of hours the game will feel repetitive.
Cobra Kai boasts a “deep moveset” the fact is most of it is unnecessary or uninteresting to use. So players will use their special attacks which costs no energy and recharges in a short time, the pacing is such that players can use a special attack about every 2 seconds without ever running out.
Cobra Kai also relies on a combo system, and this too becomes problematic. In the first few levels, it presents the combo system but the system itself is a flawed mess. It rewards variety and using different moves. The problem is it takes almost half the game before the player will have enough moves to use the combo system, and then the system breaks and becomes rather easy to dominate with as long as they use all their special moves once.
There is a parry system that works and is very powerful but enemies attacks become more annoying to predict and the dodge gives you the same level of invincibility but also allows you to move out of the way of other attacks as well, without worrying about timing your parry.
The worst part of the combo system is it’s treated like hidden information. The current level is decided by a point total that’s not shown to the player, instead, players will suddenly move from a “D” to a “C” up to an “A and then an “NM” for no mercy. Good concept, but the reason these letters are changed is because of the mysterious score system that’s not shown to the player.
The combo system is also based on not getting hit, and while that makes sense, the mysterious scoring and the fact that getting hit while using special moves doesn’t reset the combo makes the player push for more special moves and less unique fighting styles. Just spam your favorite moves and you’ll do more than fine.
Of course most beat ‘em ups aren’t especially deep but have a fun and engaging gameplay loop for a few levels. In Cobra Kai, there are 11 major levels in the game which is more than most beat ‘em ups. There are also 16 minor levels, which players will have to fight through to unlock the next major level on a map screen.
These levels are long, and while the minor levels lack a major boss, there’s still a hard enemy at the end of each. The Major levels usually have a couple of bosses and feel a bit too long, maybe even twice as long as they should be. By the time the players beat the mid-boss, the level has usually shown the theme off and presented it well, but the level continues until the player gets bored.
The bosses in Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues have entirely too much health. And while the early levels have good pacing to it, the levels in the last two-thirds of the game feel like enemies gain too much health, requiring a battle of attrition, either the enemies will wear down your health, you’ll wear down the enemy’s health, or you’ll get bored of Cobra Kai. Truthfully, I got bored of Cobra Kai a few times while playing it, and yet I wanted to see how the entire playthrough would go before reviewing the game.
The game does change. Early on the game feels very easy and like a typical Beat ‘em Up, but before long the game starts to lavish on cheap enemies that players will have to battle, large life bars, and eventually normal enemies that can summon additional enemies, and all these factors make the game drag on. I finished my run of the Cobra Kai Dojo in about ten hours. And then suddenly the game locked me out of the Cobra Kai Dojo and instead gave me the Miyagi-do Dojo, the problem is the Miyagi-do dojo now have to fight through the same 27 levels, and if they reach the end, then there’s a promise of an obvious final boss.
I gave up on this game at least three times while playing through it, I returned to review it but I wish I had stopped. After beating one level with Miyagi-do and seeing I was being asked to do the same thing I already had completed once before, with slightly different characters, I was finally able to stop.
Cobra Kai the tv show is exceptional and I picked up Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues with the expectation that I could make a video talking about how amazing it was that amazing IPs are getting great content for gamers because they aren’t being forced to tell the same story people already watched on a tv program but instead can experience a new form of the show. While the second part of that statement is true. This isn’t an amazing game, nor one I would recommend.
If you remove the Cobra Kai/Karate Kid license, there’s no reason to play this game, but even if you include the license, you really won’t want to play the entire game. It’s too long, repetitive, and boring. This feels like an obvious win, but instead, this is a snoozefest of someone going through the motions to cash in on a popular IP, rather than a loving homage to a great franchise.
SImply if they had removed about half the content this game would improve. Just removing the minor levels, and even pairing a few levels exclusively with either dojo could have improved the game a lot. Instead, we get this. It’s a shame because I got excited at the concept, but this game is not worthy of the name.
Maybe I’m being too hard on Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues, but in the words of the one true Cobra Kai… “No Mercy”
I give this an arbitrary score of
God I wish it was higher, this should have been an easy win, and if you’re a heavy fan of Cobra Kai television show, maybe it’s a 6/10, but it’s not worth a recommendation, but this is a Beat ‘em up based on Cobra Kai, this should have been a slam dunk, not an average game.
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