Cobra Kai is a “new multiplayer collectable card fighting game” based on the Netflix series sharing the same name. When the player first loads the game, they are met with an all-valley karate tournament, which acts as the tutorial so players can begin to understand the game’s basic mechanics.
Cobra Kai takes the age-old rock-paper-scissors game, using three main types of card in fights: punches, kicks and grabs. A kick will always beat a punch, a punch will beat a grab, and a grab will beat a kick. The ultimate aim is to deplete your opponent’s health bar before they deplete yours. There are a further two types of cards used in fights – health cards which help to regenerate your fighter’s health and energy cards. Each card requires your fighter to use a different amount of energy; if you have no energy you cannot play a card.
Being a massive fan of the original Karate Kid movies, and the Cobra Kai Netflix series, my expectations were high when I started playing this game. Those standards were met and exceeded; I found myself playing the game for hours on end when I initially started playing just to pass half an hour. From the around fifteen hours I have been able to play I can say it’s an addictive, immersive and well-crafted experience that any fan of Cobra Kai or mobile card fighters will take an instant liking to. Here are some of my favourite features.
Fighting animations: All the card animations for punches, kicks and grabs I’ve seen so far have been unique in style and are well refined, feeling like an accurate representation of the karate move they are supposed to represent. Unlike other fighting games, the attacks don’t feel monotonous, and the fights don’t feel like a slog to victory. Moreover, the animations for more complex techniques such as Miguel’s windmill kick look polished, reflecting the time and effort that has clearly been put into this game.
Characters Individuality: While the game doesn’t stop you from customising your fighter’s decks to fit your playstyle, each character comes pre-set with their own deck style. The developers have given thought to how each character acts during the Netflix series, reflecting this in their decks fighting style. From what I have played so far, characters such as Aisha who tend to avoid kicks have this reflected in the game, whereas more agile characters such as Miguel start with a deck based largely on kicks. As well as exploring a new playstyle and progressing the story, each new character unlocked grants the player a new special attack. Special attack cards such as Miguel’s windmill kick, Sam’s wheel technique and Robbie’s handstand kick allow for further uniqueness in decks, strategy and playstyle so gameplay isn’t repetitive.
For me this introduced the rather fun challenge of trying to play with the characters specific fighting style, adapting my playstyle to each newly unlocked character instead of adapting their deck myself, which added an extra layer of enjoyment and strategy to the gameplay.
Story Progression: While the story progression is set in line with the Netflix series and how events unfolded, players get to choose which dojo activities/challenges they complete as well as which fighters they train and upgrade. Personally, I preferred to progress the Cobra Kai dojo while playing, levelling up characters such as Miguel over the Miyagi-Do students. As well as adding a tough decision of who you will level up first and which dojo you will focus on, the range of characters means it isn’t just the same fighters seen in the PvP arena. In essence, players can choose a side, and a favourite fighter representing the dojo, who they might join in the Cobra Kai universe.
One addition that would take this game to the next level would be spoken voice lines, but with the high cost of actors and all the features that the developers have already managed to master in the game, the dialogue boxes work just fine, capturing the most crucial moments from the series and explaining how the story progresses.
In summary, if you’re a big fan of the series, need a new game to fill some free time or you’re just a fan of card-based fighters, this game is a must-download. It’s currently available on iOS and Android, and unlike other titles, this game is completely free to download.