Shaolin vs Wutang: Eastern Heroes is an indie fighting game created by Jae Lee Productions. Jae Lee Productions is a one-man studio ran by Jezrun Bowman, and it’s clear just by looking at his game that he’s a fan of Kung fu flicks. Bowman states that the game is created by martial arts fans for martial arts fans and after playing it I must admit that Bowman really knows the material.
The Arcade Experience
Shaolin vs Wutang has plenty of modes catered for single and multiplayer gameplay. There’s six different game modes in total: Arcade, Versus, Training, Survival, Team-Battle, and Tournament. Players looking for a story won’t find one here, as the game doesn’t feature a plot of any kind. Online multiplayer is also absent and would’ve been a nice addition.
An Interactive Kung Fu Flick
Shaolin vs Wutang completely nails it’s presentation and feels like a playable Kung fu Film. Just looking at the game alone takes me back to watching Shaw Brothers and Golden Gate films as a kid. Bowman Also managed to secure the rights to official pieces of music from classic martial arts films. Even the game’s sound effects sound like they were ripped from martial arts cinema. Punches sound like loud smacks and kicks sound like muffled thuds.
The main thing that shocked me about Shaolin vs Wutang was how the game uses the likeness of my favorite martial arts actors. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, and many more well-known faces fill Shaolin vs Wutang’s roster. However the characters don’t go by their actual monikers. Instead Bowman named the characters after the styles they use in certain films. This is most likely due to copyright but never the less, I’m amazed at how Bowman avoided getting sued due to the models looking exactly like their real world counterparts.
With that being said, I have to address the graphical presentation on the Nintendo Switch version. While a downgrade is to be expected, it’s pretty noticeable even when compared to the Xbox One version. It also doesn’t help that the game’s listing on Nintendo’s eShop displays screenshots of the PC version as opposed to the Switch version. Even though the graphics aren’t a deal breaker, I feel it’s only fair that the game is advertised to accurately reflect the downgrade. I’ve experienced no performance issues during my playthroughs of the game, but I will say that from my observation the game looks and runs better in docked mode.
Not Just For Fighting Game Enthusiasts
Bowman touts Shaolin vs Wutang as an “Indie Casual” fighting game. The game is meant for fans of martial arts as a whole and not just fans of fighting games. As a result the game isn’t as technical as fighters like Street Fighter or Tekken. The game features a total of four buttons: one designated for punches, one for kicks, one for weapons, and one for dashing. Pressing forward or back in conjunction with either of the attack buttons will cause the character to perform a heavy or medium attack. There are special moves as well, all of which can be performed by doing a fireball motion while pressing any attack button.
Players also have access to a gauge meter that can be filled during combat. When full, players can perform a super attack by pressing both the punch and kick button simultaneously. A combo break can be activated at the cost of meter to break free when caught in a combo string. This can be performed by pressing the kick and weapon button. Lastly players can perform throws by pressing both the punch and weapon button.
Even though the commands aren’t as complex as other fighters, the fighting is visually appealing to the eye. The attacks and movements are animated extremely well and will make any player feel smooth pulling moves off. Even blocking in this game is entertaining to look at. Instead of just absorbing hits, characters will gracefully avoid and dodge enemy attacks. While each character’s movements and attacks differ visually, they all use the same button inputs.
If you’re looking for a fighting game where you can play as your martial arts idols, you can’t go wrong with Shaolin vs Wu-Tang. It might not be as technical as most or centered around competitive play, but no one can deny how much respect and love went into this game. The switch version isn’t the best looking and I wish the game resembled it’s counterparts a bit more. However, there’s still hope in the form of the game’s sequel which is already out for PC. Hopefully the sequel comes to the Nintendo switch and features a better presentation.
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