Developed by Flux Games and published by GameMill Entertainment, Cobra Kai 2: Dojo’s Rising is the sequel to the original Cobra Kai and is loosely based on the Netflix series of the same name. I say loosely as the character models also seem loosely based on their actor’s image and some of the stars do offer their voices for this game including some game narration by Chozen.
The plot follows the series to some extent with the fact there are 3 main dojos: Daniel San’s Miyagi-do, Johhny’s Eagle Fang and Kreese’s Cobra Kai. All 3 dojos are looking for recruits to build up their dojo and train the best of them to submit them to the All Valley Karate tournament. You get to choose which dojo you want to start with and then begin the recruitment process.
Even when the game is booted up something feels off. The starting intro has Daniel, Johnny and Kreese throwing a punch at each other in slow motion but the animation is very stuttery and you should take that as a warning of things to come. I wanted this to be so much better than the first Cobra Kai game which I also reviewed and although they improved on some elements I still consider this a failure.
The structure of Cobra Kai 2 is simple enough, as you pick a dojo and you get to play as the sensei of that dojo and their star student. So with Miyagi-do, you can play as Daniel-San and his daughter Sam. With Eagle Fan Karate you can play as Johnny and Miguel. Then as with Cobra Kai, you can play as Kreese and Tori. This will only make sense if you have been watching the series and there are many other key figures from the series that appear in the game like Chozen and Terry Silver. You are then tasked with recruiting members for your dojo both students and staff.
Both students and staff can be recruited from different parts of the map which some also feature in the series too. Each area on the map tells you who you can recruit for your dojo so you can plan where to target first as you have a limited amount of days before the tournament starts. So with the time you have, you need to recruit the right staff and members to help build up your experience and dojo so you are prepared for the tournament. Recruitment is not always that simple though as each of them usually has a challenge to pass before they will join you. These range from winning the fights within a certain time or they could involve a mini-game which is not executed very well. The 2 mini-games I came across were pretty awful. One involved trying to do some parkour to smash up some advertising boards but you were given a very limited time to do some that were hidden in quite hard-to-reach places. The other involved some top-down challenge of trying to get some people out of a prison cell without bumping into inmates which were super difficult too.
The fighting and the controls are better than in the Cobra Kai and there are more choices but it still contains a ton of flaws. You are now in a more 3D environment on each stage rather than the modified 2D style of the previous game. But the camera angle at times does the game no favours. The attack is much simpler and grabbing enemies is simpler too. The different skill moves you can do are interesting and varied but some just don’t work in battle very well and just seem poorly designed. Each character has 4 skill moves and these can be customised at the dojo. Each skill is tied to a different boost depending on the button you pressed. So one skill move can give you an XP boost, one move gives you a coins boost, one move gives you an attack boost and the other gives you a health boost. It costs chi to use the skill moves which can only be obtained by knocking down enemies or by meditating by a trophy-like pedestal. It is a nice touch that you can take up to 4 members of the dojo with you on each mission and you can change them on the fly which you will need to do if you are finding some of the stages difficult.
It has a few RPG elements which are related to the coins and XP you earn by completing the stages. The coins can be used to upgrade your dojo which has certain boosts and allow for the recruitment of more members. The coins can also be used to upgrade your character’s skill moves or to buy accessories from the pawn shop. But truly I just felt like this was something to pad out the game as I didn’t notice the effects of any of the upgrades or accessories.
When you finally get to the tournament in the main mode you have to select from your 4 best students from your dojo. I don’t know exactly why as you can only play as one of them. But the gameplay in the tournament is different as although it’s 3D it feels more contained. There are rules on how you earn points; 1 point for knocking the opponent out of the arena, 2 points for knocking the opponent down 3 times and 3 points for stunning the enemy and then performing a skill.
If you don’t want to play through the main game you can also dive straight into the tournament from the main menu. There is also an option of cobra classics where you can play out certain scenes loosely taken from the series. There is also an online mode under the tournament option but this never went anywhere for me. I was just stuck on the character select screen and honestly, I am not surprised as it could either be broken or no one has an interest in playing this game online.
Now for the gripes, of which there are many. The first is the character modelling looks damn ugly. Some don’t look too bad, but even Kreese from the main menu looks awful. The hit detection in combat is a bit flimsy and it gets a bit of a button masher. In the tournament, you can see the character’s feet disappear through the floor and if you get knocked down you also partially disappear through the mat.
I mentioned this as the tournament is where the worst bugs happened. Sometimes you can hit an enemy to cause them to fly up in the air and then you can air juggle them and launch them off the mat. But on many occasions I have done this the enemy falls through the floor and into oblivion. It was funny how broken it was until it broke the game. I scored one point for knocking the enemy out of the arena but our positions were never reset and my character was just stuck looking outwards and nothing would progress. I had to quit the game and try again. This happened to me 5 times. I then tried again a day later and now in my main game when I try and go to the tournament the game just crashes out. This isn’t just a bad install as it happened on 2 different consoles. I also had the game crash on me when trying to load the cobra classic option which makes the game feel quite unfinished or untested.
Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising Could have been a massive step up from the first game which was in all fairness a cash grab. But rather than producing a quality product they just released a buggy mess and I can only assume this was because it couldn’t wait any longer. The Series is now on season 5 and this game was to tie in a much earlier season. Fans of the series might consider picking this up but I don’t think I could recommend it.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.