The game ties-in with the popular animated film, and follows the story of Po, a slacker of a panda who has aspirations of becoming a great Kung Fu warrior. Gameplay consists largely of three-dimensional platforming mixed with beat-em-up combat. Like the movie it is based off of, it has elements of humor and light-hearted fighting.
Publisher Activision divided development responsibilities for Kung Fu Panda between multiple studios. Luxoflux created the Xbox 360 and PS3 version; XPEC Entertainment handled the Wii and PS2 versions; Vicarious Visions made the DS version; Beenox Studios developed the PC/Mac game.
Kung Fu Panda's gameplay is relatively simple in order to be accessible to children. Throughout the majority of the game, players will take control of Po, although they will also control Master Shifu and members of the Furious Five in some levels. Po moves through the levels with basic platforming techniques and fights enemies regularly along the way. In addition to the main goal of the level there will sometimes be simple collection or exploration-related quests in order to achieve 100% completion for the level. Po can upgrade all of his statistics and special moves with coins found throughout the level; the player can upgrade him at any point in the pause menu or between levels.
Bosses and mini-bosses are also present; when they appear, they are usually beaten with repeated attacks and/or quick time events.
The story follows the same basic structure of the film, although it takes many liberties with the film's script in order to provide more enemies to fight.
In the Valley of Peace, a region of ancient China filled with various walking, talking animals, Po is a panda who is largely unsuccessful and unmotivated. His only job is helping his father (who is a goose) with his noodle soup business, a career he doesn't particularly care for. He does, however, dream (and daydream) of becoming a Kung Fu master. One day, he attempts to see a ceremony in which the new Dragon Warrior is crowned; it is expected that one of Master Shifu's elite students, the Furious Five, will become the Dragon Warrior. Po finds that he is late, and he rockets into the ceremony by strapping himself to a set of fireworks; as he lands, he is unexpectedly selected as the Dragon Warrior. Po must train and prove himself to Shifu and the Five while stopping malicious animals from invading the Valley of Peace, and he must also deal with Tai Lung, a former student of Shifu who became too ambitious and aggressive.
Kung Fu Panda's multi-player pits players against each other in free-for-all brawling similar in style to the Super Smash Bros. or Power Stone games. Some multi-player modes also include puzzle mini-games with ancient Chinese themes.
Reviews from critics were generally positive, especially considering that Kung Fu Panda was a movie tie-in. It garnered a 76 from Metacritic. It was described as having decent gameplay, if not particularly innovative or challenging, and a good choice for children.
As part of Microsoft's marketing push to reach families with younger children, the Xbox 360 Pro model was bundled with LEGO Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda during the 2008 holiday season at no additional cost.