Enter the Dojo
Like everyone else with a Netflix account, I watched all three seasons of Cobra Kai. The mix of action, comedy, drama and nostalgia made it into a smash hit. Now Boss Team Games is trying to capture some of that magic with Cobra Kai: Card Fighter. This collectible card game takes players into the dojo to battle it out with the characters from the show. You’ll play Miguel, Sam, Robbie, Hawk and the rest as you fight to see which school will reign supreme.
Cobra Kai: Card Fighter uses a card-driven turn-based combat system. Each participant plays three cards in a row, which are then revealed one at a time. Fight cards are a variety of kicks, punches and throws. Wild cards do things like heal your fighter or restore their energy. Each player’s cards are compared, with kicks beating punches, punches beating throws and throws beating kicks. Two cards of the same type nullify each other. Different attacks do more damage, but also cost more energy. And if you run out of energy, you can’t play cards. Each character also has unique combo moves that deal more damage. Every round, three more cards are played, until one combatant has their health reduced to zero and loses the match.
This rock-paper-scissors mechanism isn’t a particularly novel concept. However, the game livens things up by having animated fighters mimic the moves on the cards. So when you successfully play a windmill kick, you’ll get to see your fighter deliver a satisfying beatdown. The fighters are stylized 3D avatars that resemble the characters from the show fairly well. Overall, the game looks good and does a decent job of capturing the feel of the series. For instance, guitar rock plays in the background whenever you’re in the Cobra Kai dojo. In contrast, the Miyagi-Do dojo features serene, Asian-influenced background music.
The fights themselves are part of a larger game that emulates the events of the show. Cobra Kai: Card Fighter starts with Miguel and Robbie facing off in the All Valley Karate Championships. It then jumps back six months to when Miguel first began training with Johnny. This also serves as a tutorial for the game. Cobra Kai: Card Fighter is played in stages, with players completing various tasks to move on to the next stage. These tasks include things like “play 10 kick fight cards” or “win five fights.” After the first stage at Cobra Kai, the second takes place at Miyagi-Do. There, players follow Daniel as he trains Robbie and Sam. In the third stage, you get to choose which school you want to continue with.
As you progress through each stage, you’ll expand your dojo, acquire new students and train them. Improving your dojo and your students costs money, which you get by winning fights. This is also how you earn new cards. You can buy more money using gold tokens, which you get by watching ads. Alternatively, you can purchase tokens using real cash in the in-game store, as well as booster packs and special offers.
There’s a training minigame against a combat dummy that lets you earn new cards as well. It involves tapping on or sliding your finger to targets that appear on the dummy in rapid succession. For players with quick hands, this won’t be an issue. And even if you lose, you can watch an ad to get more cards to add to your collection. However, if you’re like me, you’ll find this to be a frustrating experience. The problem is that in the second stage, you have to beat the minigame to progress further. What’s more, you can only attempt it once an hour. It’s a shame, because it’s a black mark against an otherwise good game.
Is It Hardcore?
Cobra Kai: Card Fighter doesn’t have the most original gameplay, but it adds some excitement by animating the fights. Overall, it does a great job of capturing the look and feel of the show. Only a frustrating, mandatory minigame detracts from the experience.