Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising Review (Switch)

Captured on Nintendo Switch (docking station)

The magical attraction of Cobra Kai as light entertainment is that it is fully aware of what it is: garbage. This is The setting sun on the beach crossed with saved by the belldriven by the parody of a Johnny Lawrence note stuck in the 80s. For anyone old enough to remember the original Karate Kid movies, there’s a pull back to its cheesy soap opera amateur theatrics and cyclical plot threads, using the lore of the original films and their rivalries to create an enjoyable junk watch.

Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising loosely adheres to where the series stands at the time of writing, now in its fifth season. With an overarching original plot, you can fight your way through the three dojos – Cobra Kai, Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang – and take the reins of their associated characters in different activities. In a nice touch, many of the characters are voiced by the cast of the show, lending authenticity to this brawler’s world.

In most cases, you can switch between multiple characters at once, giving you extra health bars mid-battle. It only takes half an hour to build a squad of four through recruiting, making it easier to survive battles with multiple enemies. However, there isn’t much of a difference in combat styles, with almost all characters using the same basic set of commands. These include tap combos with the ‘Y’ button, with a long press releasing a heavier attack; a dodge, which must be used almost constantly; and super attacks engaged while holding ‘ZR’, which consume your Chi Meter. There’s also a shoulder button grab option that lets you grab an enemy, puff them up, or at certain clearly defined times throw them into props. New skills can be acquired through the collection of specific coins and items, and there’s an element of parkour involved, allowing you to jump walls and climb certain boundaries in search of hidden objects.

Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising Review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (docking station)

The initial training section starts out pretty well, giving you a brief introduction to the moveset, before picking a mission from the map preview. Much like the show, this isn’t a game you’ll play for the plot, though ultimately you’ll be tasked with winning the All Valley Karate Tournament. The recruitment idea is a good one, as the show tends to focus on that theme from season to season, and the standard battle is occasionally interrupted by weird mini-games like human bowling, in which you hit an enemy to knock down a stationary swarm behind.

In addition to the story mode, Cobra Classics lets you take part in skirmishes that mirror key fights from the series, including season two’s school battle royale. They aren’t as cinematic as they could be, however, feeling segmented, jerky, and forcing you to switch between different characters. You can also dive straight into the All Valley Tournament, where nearly every character is unlocked. Here, two-player local or online options are available, and the rules mimic the out-of-bounds routine present on the show. All characters feature some sort of unique special move, from flying roundhouse kicks to eye stabs. It operates in a 360 degree 3D space and offers very little tactical strategy aside from proper blocking.

Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/undocked)

Sounds good so far? Unfortunately, Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising is pitifully poor in its execution: a perfectly fine concept that’s completely, despicably broken. Unlike its predecessor, Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues, which worked thanks to its 2D layout and relative simplicity of combat, the sequel puts you in spaces resembling 3D arenas where multiple attackers attack you from all sides. , constantly bombarding you with barely a moment’s respite. It would be nice if the game was skillfully programmed, letting you focus a combo on one enemy before moving on to the next, but it’s such a mess that there’s hardly any structure. We can’t comment on how it works on Steam, but the Switch version is dismal. It’s hard to see what’s going on or keep up with your opponents, with much of the battle being fought against the camera. Trying to orient the scene so you’re not obscured and seeing what’s going on around you is an ever more pressing task. Collision detection is fluffy and unrewarding, lacking energy and punch in the animations and sound effects. Battles are scrappy and confusing where you’re constantly hitting the dodge button in an attempt to center yourself, and it’s hard to decipher range or key openings for attack.

Additionally, the frame rate is absolutely abysmal, grinding everywhere and regularly freezing completely for a few seconds at a time – which is inexplicable given the low quality of the graphics. It moves and stalls whether there are enemies onscreen or not, and it’s rife with bugs and glitches. At one point, we switched to a teammate waiting nearby, only to suddenly have the same character onscreen twice, side by side. Platforming sections are terrible, not working or staying in weird places, and there’s even a slowdown in slippery frame intermissions.

The fights are frustrating, the minigames are horribly designed, and all the while you can’t help but wonder how the finished product came out in such a bad shape. It is possible, of course, that many of these issues will be corrected over time. But even then, the game isn’t good enough to recommend to fans of the genre.

Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising Review - Screenshot 4 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/undocked)

Could it be recommended for Cobra Kai fans, though? Not really. If you’re an absolute diehard who lives and breathes like there’s nothing else, you might be drawn to the attention to character likenesses (although the modeling isn’t exactly great), the theme and plot, music and ambiance. But working there is difficult for all the wrong reasons, knowing that every new location will bring the same camera issues and fight confusion. Yes, ultimately you’ll buff and bypass built-in gaps, be able to dodge and counter, react accordingly, and only occasionally feel like throwing your Joy-Cons at the screen. But one has to wonder whether or not this small gain is worth the substantial price.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising in terms of concept. An arena fight set in the small world of dojos, malls, schools and parks of the TV series with the theme of recruiting a team on the way to a mega tournament, it’s very good. But the quality is shockingly sub-par and way below what the Switch hardware is capable of. You could say being sloppy, confused, and trashy is a lot like the show is, but when we transcend midrange in the realm of gaming, half-ass doesn’t hit the right kind of punch.

Comments are closed.