Xiaolin Showdown PSP Review

Powerstone is one of those games that has immeasurable enjoyable, particularly in multiplayer where the fun just never stops. Many games have imitated it, although few have matched the satisfying and fast action. Now another challenger steps up in the form of Xiaolin Showdown, and well lets be frank here, it’s been left a little battered, broken and bruised and in need of some high doses of morphine.

Xiaolin Showdown might be a familiar name to you if you are still at those tender years where you can watch cartoons without being embarrassed, or perhaps you’ve grown up since 2003 but remember the American cartoon series fondly. You may even be a closet cartoon fan, although if you are, we promise that we won’t tell anyone, as our lips are watertight. Anyway, it’s all about the Xiaolin Dragons (a four person fighting force), the nonsensically titled Shen Gong Wu (if you squint it reads magical tools or something like that), and the dismantling of the frequent robotic opposition.

Forget about the silly plot though, we’re here for the showdown of the title, and we’re pleased to say that the game does at least give us a modicum amount of fun, although unfortunately little beyond that.

As you’d expect the fighting has as much depth as a shallow paddling pool, although it’s enjoyable enough, and does give you a few options beyond the expected kicks and punches. The battlefields are strewn with objects that can be tossed at your enemies, whilst the Shen Gong Wu (seriously squint at it, it might even begin making some sense) attacks are the most powerful in your characters arsenal.

Shen Gong Wu attacks can be purchased between levels, and won off your fighting buddies (you are accompanied by either three player or AI-controlled team mates) if you wager one of your own. There’s 30 of these attacks in total, although many have the same results and are only really dissimilar in their execution. You can take up to three Shen Gong Wu moves in to battle and they can be swapped between and purchased through a menu screen. Expect humour and devastation as you charge and unleash Shen Gong Wu.

Attacking enemies, finding scrolls and Shen Gong Wu items is the basis of the game, although there is some pretty nice diversions. As you make scrap metal out of your generic opponents, secret levels (or Ying Yang world in fan lingo) appear, and upon entering these you’ll be battling for items (the number you collect determine how long their effects last when you are back in the game proper) and coins. If only smashing things to find money was lawful in real life, we’d all be multi billionaires.

Often at the end of stages you will enter a showdown against your buddies (play nice now!) as a Shen Gong Wu makes itself shown. These showdowns are actually the real highlight of the game, and include such games as king of the hill and It. The winner of these events is granted the use of a new Shen Gong Wu, and if you wager one of your own you’ll also get the opportunity to steal one of your buddies, for those kids who grew up on the GTA series, this doesn’t actually sound too bad in comparison.

Xiaolin Showdown looks rather nice with its cartoon-style cell shading, and as tradition goes with these wild games, it’s quite easy to lose yourself in a whirlwind of furious speed and action, although it does make for some laughs, especially if you are playing with other players.

It’s just a shame that the rest of the game is so bland, and that the robots just keep on coming. We’re not denying that we had our fun with the game, although with Powerstone collection also available for the PSP, it’s impossible to recommend Xiaolin Showdown as anything other than a poor mans alternative to Capcom’s superb series.