It's amazing what some developers think will pass for a decent game when kids are the main demographic. Contrary to popular belief, kids aren't stupid and with so many of them having grown up surrounded by games from an extremely early age, most can now tell an absolute classic from a sloppy cash-in.
In case you hadn't guessed from the opening rant, Xiaolin Showdown falls firmly into the latter category and as far as turgid, churned-out nonsense goes, we've not seen its equal in some time. In fact, with the surprisingly playable Naruto: Ultimate Ninja and the consistently fair Dragon Ball series covering most bases for cartoon-based fighting, you really have to wonder why anyone would ever play this for more than a few moments.
The main game is split into two separate elements, each as bad as the other. The first and most common is a pseudo co-operative fighting game that feels like a decrepit scrolling beat-'em-up that has lost the capacity for horizontal travel - you keep expect the flashing 'Go!' arrow from Streets Of Rage or Golden Axe to pop up, telling you to move on to the next area but that never happens. Instead, you stay in your shoebox arena and kick wave after wave of identical enemies until the level ends with a slightly bigger (but still pretty much the same) enemy. When the onslaught is over, you and your allies are whisked away to a showdown stage, where things turn into a broken Power Stone clone with a different silly rule attached each time around. Capture The Flag, King Of The Hill and good old fashioned playground tag are all present in rather ramshackle form and at no point will anybody playing utter the phrase 'I'm having fun'. Well, they might, but it'd be with a hefty side order of sarcasm that they did so.
The reason for this is that Xiaolin Showdown is dross of the highest order. Konami has managed to make a co-op game that offers no incentive to work together and no real ability to even do so on more than the most basic of levels. So it's more a versus game then? Not really. The more power-ups and weapons you take for yourself, the less able your allies are to fight off the hordes of pathetic enemies and the more laborious slaughter you have to perform to make up for it. Betting Shen Gong Wu (which are basically rechargeable special weapons) on the intermittent versus stages and collecting coins allows you to load up on new specials, but since there are only a few of any use until you get to the ultimate ones, you may as well just stick with them. Area effect abilities punish allies as well as foes but there's no intelligence on their part to keep them out of harm's way when your super weapon is ready to be loosed. They'll hit you with attacks, you'll hit them with attacks and it'll never really matter because the whole shindig is so ridiculously easy.
It's not even as though it looks good enough to entice fans of the show into thinking that it could be anything other than repulsive either - with the PlayStation 2 being pushed to its limits these days, it can be hard to be impressed by even the most valiant of today's efforts, let alone something as sketchy as this. Naruto and DBZ both sell you on the image, which is close enough to that of the source material and while we're no experts on the goings-on in the world of Xiaolin Showdown, the fact that the characters bear little more than a passing resemblance to the ones of the show is hardly a good sign.
Whoever, wherever, whatever you are, there is absolutely zero reason to own this atrocious excuse for a video game. Fans should be offended at the butchery of their beloved series while the rest of the world will just look on in bewilderment that such terrible games are still being released in 2007. Everything about it is just wrong. To be able to put out a title this broken with so many great modern and retro games from which to draw influence is a hell of an achievement. Albeit in a sick Jackass staple-a-chair-to-your-manhood kind of way - not the kind of achievement you want to have anything at all to do with. Ever.
Will you support Eurogamer?
We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.