Xiaolin Showdown Updated Hands-On

We tried a new build of Konami's madcap beat-'em-up starring four testy little monks. Check out our impressions.

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Konami and Mark of Kri developer Bottlerocket are working on a new beat-'em-up action game based on the mystical, Eastern-themed Xiaolin Showdown cartoon (which you can catch in syndication on the Cartoon Network), and we got to check out a new build of the game at Konami's annual barbecue event today. The game features all the trappings you'd want out of an action game based on a cartoon show--the artwork is vivid and highly reminiscent of the series, all the actors are here to provide their trademark voice work, and the characters all sport their powers and personalities. Fans of the show should be well pleased.

As we noted during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2006, Xiaolin Showdown is similar to other four-player brawlers like Power Stone and Super Smash Bros., though it has plenty of its own mechanics going on. Primarily, you'll want to keep an eye out for the appearance of one of 30 shen gong wu. Shen gong what? These are mystical objects that confer special powers on their possessor, things like the ability to turn all of your opponents into blocks of ice. When you grab one of these power-ups, you'll also be transported to a surreal, side-scrolling minigame that reminded us a lot of the original arcade Mario Bros. But look out: The bad guys, led by naughty boy genius Jack Splicer, are vying for the shen gong wu, as well. In addition to the four main characters from the series, you'll also get to unlock two of the villains. Also, characters have their own special moves, so hopefully the game will have a good amount of depth and replay value.

Xiaolin Showdown seems to present a mix of cooperative play against waves of artificial-intelligence enemies and competitive fighting, since you can also attack your opponents in the heat of battle just to throw them off. Hitting your friends doesn't seem to cause too much damage, luckily, so it looks like you could beat on each other all day if that floats your boat. We got to play a level set in a robotics factory of some kind, where evil hovering robots pursued us constantly. We had to ride platforms up to the second level to collect power-ups while avoiding unpleasant-looking spinning saw blades. Finally, a few gigantic stone golems spawned in periodically to make our lives more difficult, though with our three AI-controlled allies, we were able to dispatch the threat pretty handily.

Xiaolin Showdown looks like it's really doing a lot to capitalize on the positive qualities of the TV series, and with the tried-and-true four-player brawling formula at work, it will hopefully prove to be entertaining for fans of the cartoon, whether they be young or old.

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