Xiaolin Showdown is the videogame spin-off of the successful children's TV show of the same name. Taking this into account, it's no surprise that the game has ended up being nigh-on patronising for the average gamer with the developers clearly trying to make their game accessible to even the most novice of gamers. However, with kids these days more than capable of tackling some of the more advanced games out there, there seems to be no real place for this beat 'em up.
You play as one of the four main characters from the TV show, with the other three free to be controlled by other players or the AI. What plays out is a rather basic arena-based brawler where you and your mates kick the stuffing out of hordes of enemies. Numerous boss encounters are intermingled with these battles and there are frequent battles to decide who gets certain power-ups, but it's all too basic and uninspiring.
The biggest problem comes in the shape of the game's lock-on targeting system. To distinguish who you're locked onto the game puts a beam of light above the enemy, but this doesn't stay on screen for long. Combine this with a generally problematic system that results in you turning on your team-mates far too often and the result is a game that is more infuriating than it is fun. You'll also come across numerous pauses in the action just so the game can make 100 percent sure that you know what you're doing. Hand-holding is fine, but not to the extent that it is in Xiaolin Showdown.
Regularly getting into accidental fights with your allies would be bad enough but because special moves can temporarily freeze characters there's a good chance you'll be out of action at various points. There's certainly an argument for 'friendly fire' to cause damage, but it was an awful decision in this case. A large scale PowerStone-style brawler sounds good on paper but Xiaolin Showdown doesn't do much to make the most of the obvious potential.
Presentation isn't too hot either, with the cel-shaded visuals doing little to make up for the tiresome gameplay. It's a colourful game and the look does fit well with that of the TV show, but characters lack detail, textures aren't great and there isn't a huge variety in the enemies. Voice work is provided by most of the voice actors from the cartoon but Dojo, the comedic dragon, is voiced by a newcomer. Strangely he seems to get most of the lines, so it doesn't help that his voice is also the most annoying.
Licensed video games often sell regardless of their quality, but few are as uninspired as Xiaolin Showdown. The gameplay is fundamentally broken, the presentation is average at best and there is never a challenge; in fact, I don't think I've ever played an easier game. If you absolutely love the TV show to an obsessive degree then you might be able to scrape some enjoyment from the game, but everyone else should adopt an offensive stance as soon as the game is spotted on a store shelf.
VideoGamer.com Score4 Score out of 10
- Visually faithful to the cartoon
- Combat is sloppy
- Far too simple