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Arcade Archives Reviews: Karate Champ


Magmavision2000

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(Changed the name of the series to better suit some reviews)

 

Karate Champ is a 1984 arcade fighting game released originally by Data East. In the game, you play as a Karateka who starts out sparring with his dojo (I believe, it could also be a dojo raid) and then you go to the big leagues and fight on national television!

 

The game simulates point-based fighting unlike most modern fighting games and is rather slow as you need to calculate every strike or else you'll meet certain doom. Speaking of strikes, let me tell you how to perform one. Unlike most fighting games where you have a joystick and buttons, Karate Champ uses 2 joysticks and moves are performed by holding the sticks in certain directions (e.g. holding "up" on the right stick will do a head kick, but holding "back" on the left stick and "up" on the right stick will do a lunge punch). This layout, in my opinion, is both the strength and weakness of the game, it looks very daunting, but trust me, you'll get the hang of it with practice.

 

Once you get used to the awkward controls, you now gotta get used to the difficulty. One of the problems is that your opponent strikes real fast and you have to hold your stick position or else it cancels out, so it kind of ends up being a game of quick draw.

 

There are three special stages, in the first one, you have to deflect objects with your feet, it reminds of the bonus stage in the Famicom version of Yie Ar Kung Fu, the second one has you breaking either cement or ice, and in the third one, you punch a bull in the face.

 

The Arcade Archives release unfortunately, only gives you one version of the game, which is the first Japanese version (there's a second version that looks more like the poor NES version). You also get the High Score and Caravan modes.

 

On the whole, I'd only recommend Karate Champ to either Martial Arts fans, or people who want to learn about the history of fighting games. The controls, although easy to learn, are very hard to master, on top of that, if you're playing on the Switch, the sticks on the Joycons aren't made for stuff like this. You also have the arcade difficulty which, with the controls, makes it near impossible to do on one credit, even if you master it. And the cherry on top is the rather bare-bones Arcade Archives release, they definitely could've added the second version of the game, or at the very least, the English version alongside the Japanese version.

 

I'd say either get this on sale or if you know what you're getting into. 6/10.

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