After recently playing amazingly smooth games like Armed With Wings: Rearmed, Mark of the Ninja, BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Karate Master 2: Knock Down Blow and Streets of Rage Remake, it was astounding to me how broken some of these 3D fighting games really are. I was hit with this rather rude awakening when putting in some play time with the indie fighting game Shaolin Vs Wutang from Jae Lee productions.
From the delayed block-timing in Mortal Kombat to the awful clipping and poor frame collision data in Street Fighter X Tekken, to the abysmal hit-detection and input delays in Shaolin Vs Wutang, it’s difficult to put into words how much I love these 3D games and how frustrating it is to play them knowing that a lot of the fun-factors are rendered moot when it’s next-to-nigh impossible to pull off proper combos or counter-attacks because of the controls and the frame data.
One particular issue that plagues Shaolin Vs Wutang is when you do pull off the right button combo for the counter-attack and the hits don’t register.
You can get an idea of what the frame mechanics, hit detection and input delays are like with some footage of the gameplay from Shaolin Vs Wutang.
In the video above one of the major issues is that the only way to beat some opponents is to go the cheap route: roll-dodging through the fight.
At one point I tried pulling off a special with one of the characters only to realize that Lee hasn’t implemented the special for that character yet. But that was an error on my part.
Now keep in mind that Jae-Lee is still working on this game and it’s still in Early Access. His most recently update fixed some of the blocking and dodging blending.
I picked this game up shortly after it entered into Early Access because I wanted to support Lee after previously purchasing Kings of Kung-Fu, another game that suffers from the same problems as Shaolin Vs Wutang.
Now the biggest difference between both games is that Kings of Kung-Fu definitely ran a lot faster and because of that it was possible to extract some fun out of the game, equivalent to pushing a wet sponge through a wedding band.
Even still, the problem of hit-detection, input delays and poor frame stoppage when it came to executing counters, all contributed to Kings of Kung-Fu still leaving a sour taste in the mouth. It was a game I tolerated because it was an indie title, but I was hoping Lee would have addressed these core issues before focusing on adding new characters and tweaking specials.
Now I can say that some characters seem to be balanced better than others. What wasn’t captured in the video above was some test sessions with Dragon and Wu Shu where the hits seemed to connect and the specials were almost spot-on… but only when the opponent wasn’t zipping around the arena with evasive rolls or constantly pulling off footsies. The best way to deal with most of the opponents was just to time their attacks and dodge spam until victory was achieved.
I love the visual style and the throwback audio to the 1970s kung-fu classics, but Lee is going to need to work on fixing up those core mechanics before pulling the game out of Early Access.
I think for sure getting the blocking and input detection up to par would help a ton. A lot of times holding back on the controller wouldn’t always result in the character blocking. It was always just easier to just tap the ‘Y’ button and dodge out of the way. Of course, if you don’t mind playing cheap you can definitely win the game by counter-dodging and quickly tapping the ‘A’ button to whittle down an opponent’s life, but what fun is that?
Hopefully we’ll see some improved hit-detection, some better frame blending, better balancing for executing counter-attacks – especially when a character is performing neutrals – and improved response timing for blocking would help this game a ton.
Keep in mind that I really like this game and this isn’t to rag on it but hopefully to see it improve.
I’m looking forward to future updates for Shoalin vs Wutang.
You can pick up a digital copy from the Steam store for $12.99.