In the world of Tao Feng the Pacific Northwest is called New China. Two rival factions, with six members each, fight to gain two mystical tablets that grant awesome power. On the side of the Pale Lotus we have the 90-year-old Master Sage, the attractive Jade Dragon, a hothead appropriately named Fiery Phoenix, the cat-like Fierce Tiger, levelheaded cop-by-day Divine Fist, and the enigmatic and metallic Iron Monk. The bad guys, called the Black Mantis, are: Wulong Goth, looking crazy in a praying mantis costume; the mystical Fatalist; the alluring Divinity; the scary Geist; and a hulking brute named Exile. Each fighter has his own fighting style, powers, and core strategy, and the game design is such that you have to relearn the game with each new fighter.
The slower pace of the fighting in Tao Feng might put off genre fans looking for something more frantic. The controls are simple and include a few innovations. For example: pushing back on the gamepad blocks, but too much blocking might result in losing the use of your limbs. The rest of the buttons are two basic punches, two kicks, all modified by the direction you press and the use of the shoulder buttons and jumping attacks. You can even taunt your foe, which, like hitting them, charges your Chi bar. Chi can be unleashed in a devastating attack with the white button, and this attack is also modified by how you use the direction pad. The result is a fluid game of blocking, striking, and stringing combos, and occasionally taking advantage of your Chi powers to take out your opponent.
The game looks great and features arenas filled with hazards and breakable objects. The only problem with the game is that some animation bugs didnt get squashed before the game shipped--when executing attacks, characters sometimes instantly jerk into a new stance. Fortunately, the underlying gameplay is strong enough that a player can forgive such faults, and concentrate on the gory action instead. --Bob Andrews
- Great graphics
- Limb damage
- Well-designed arenas
- Animation quirks