Developer Flux Games, together with GameMill Entertainment, just released a sequel to Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues, which was a pleasant surprise when it launched two years ago. Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising is out for PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC – we took at a look at the PlayStation 4 version to see how it compares to the previous game.
When we reviewed the first game, we noted that we considered the success of the associated TV show to be a bit of an unexpected success story – and here we are, already in its fifth season. We suppose it’s because it revels in its retro appeal, unashamed to keep throwing back to the original films and not do anything new and different (like later sequels did). The game more or less did the same thing, as a throwback to classic brawlers of the same era, like Double Dragon, Final Fight and (a bit later) Streets of Rage – and we enjoyed it because it did a good job doing so.
Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising is actually a somewhat daring departure from that (safe) formula, and it comes to us in the shape of an arena brawler rather than an arcade-like experience. It makes sense from a karate perspective (where the tatami is sort of like an arena, with a bit of imagination), but it’s a video game style that’s a lot harder to get right and only a few developers really specialize and excel in the area.
Story-wise, Dojos Rising features an original story about the three dojos in the show (Cobra Kai, Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang), all brought to life with voice acting and likenesses from the show’s actors. Swapping between characters and dojos, the game covers a lot of ground, giving it added appeal to fans of the show. You’ll be recruiting people to your team early on, leading to larger scale fights fairly quickly – and here too you can switch between characters. Their movesets aren’t all that different, but because the story breathes character into them it’s still fun to alternate between team members.
Combat itself is the usual mix of attacks, dodges, heavy attacks, grabbing and a few character-specific moves – with some of the best moves involving the environment, either by jumping off of walls or by slamming enemies into it. There are also bizarre minigames that reminded us of the early Flatout games (human bowling, anyone?), and there’s a secondary mode called “Cobra Classics”. This one taps into the TV show quite literally, providing players with recreated fight scenarios from the show to participate in – though as you’d expect it doesn’t look as cool without the changes in camera angles, close-ups and cheesy acting.
From a fan service perspective, Cobra Kai 2 looks pretty good, but at the end of the day it’s not nearly as much fun to play as the previous game was. With the switch to 3D visuals come extra challenges, and this game doesn’t handle them well – the camera is all over the place and it’s a pain to manually adjust it to an angle that works properly. The 3D graphics engine also doesn’t appear to be the most optimized one out there, with a frame rate that isn’t stable – regardless of how busy a scene is.
Add the occasional visual glitch and a combat system that’s too floaty and imprecise to give you a sense that you’re in control and it’s hard to enjoy this one, even if you enjoyed the show and/or the previous game. We were looking forward to a sequel, but would have been happier with a new game that mostly just copied what they did in Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues. Unless Cobra Kai 2 gets some major updates, we’d recommend sticking with the previous game.