Here's a story...of some intensely bizarre licensing. Mobliss has taken the cast from the original 1970s The Brady Bunch TV show--minus Robert Reed, the actor who played Mike "A Man Named" Brady--imbued them with crazy fighting styles, and pitted them against each other. The result is Brady Bunch Kung Fu, a mobile phone fighting game that is as weird in execution as it sounds in concept. The action lacks the finesse needed to make it even remotely compelling as a fighting game, but Brady Bunch Kung Fu's dizzy enthusiasm makes it oddly compelling at times.
The makers of Brady Bunch Kung Fu did their research, as the game starts off firmly grounded in Brady canon, but it quickly spins off into some wickedly strange territory. Picking up right after the last episode of the TV show, the game sees clan Brady struggling with the same pesky idol that plagued their Hawaiian vacation in episodes 73 to 75. No longer intent on causing Greg to lose in surf competitions, the idol has given each of the Bradys incredible fighting skills, along with a thirst for conflict, with the intention of turning the Bradys against each other. As the Brady of your choice, you confront the rest of the bunch in order to find the idol and lift the curse.
From the instantly recognizable Brady grid, you can choose to play as Carol, Marsha, Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter, or Bobby Brady, as well as everyone's favorite center square, Alice. Some of the Bradys' fighting styles are derived from real fighting styles--Marsha somersaults around with a capoeira style, Peter channels Bruce Lee's jeet kun do style, complete with the yellow-and-black Game of Death jumpsuit, and Carol uses a two-fan tai chi fighting style. Some of the other Bradys, though, are a little more out there. With a wide-collared, skintight leisure suit, Greg Brady is in full-on Disco Inferno mode, and he can literally set fire to his opponents while he dances all over them; Cindy Brady displays some latent psi powers as she levitates and sends her dolls to do the fighting for her; and little Bobby Brady is inexplicably piloting a miniature UFO. The characterizations seem almost arbitrary, but they're mostly inspired enough to work.
While you'll see the likenesses of the actual Bradys plastered all over Brady Bunch Kung Fu, the fighters are drawn in an exaggerated style that is reminiscent of a variety of over-the-top, late-'90s 2D fighting games. The fighters are nicely detailed, and the different backgrounds they fight on are also quite inspired--taking place on several highly recognizable Brady Bunch set locations--but the fighters could have benefited from smoother animations. The sound isn't quite as lush as the fun and festive visual style, featuring just a few rather sparse sets of fight sound effects, which are shared by several characters, and a manic interpretation of The Brady Bunch theme song that plays in between fights.
Too bad the fighting couldn't be as inspired as the rest of Brady Bunch Kung Fu. Your fighter has a decent range of motion using the even-numbered keys, while the 5, 7, and 9 keys are used to execute attacks, which can be easily strung together into five- or six-hit combos. If you can't be bothered with hitting multiple buttons, you can opt to use the directional pad and menu select button on your phone, which will allow you to fire off different types of attacks automatically. Each fighter has a good number of different attacks, and the wildly divergent fighting styles could have added some lasting value to the package, were the artificial intelligence more competent and the combat system less button-mash-friendly. Without live opponents to challenge your skills, it's simply far too easy to burn through the game, though the lively animations still make it pretty fun to watch.
Furthermore, you should be aware that Brady Bunch Kung Fu doesn't store a lot of its data on your phone, instead downloading certain necessary bits on demand. This feature means that it takes up less space on your phone than it could have, but it also means you're likely to rack up additional data charges, depending on your carrier and your plan. Still, Brady Bunch Kung Fu can be a kitschy little diversion for mobile players looking for something light and quick.