Review by MaximRecoil

"The classic one on one fighting game"

First of all, the above review entitled ''In the beginning'' should be moved because it is obviously a review of the NES version of Karate Champ which is in no way applicable to the real arcade version. He speaks of simple control with only four moves and a directional pad and buttons. The arcade machine had dual joysticks for control and no buttons not to mention far superior graphics and game play. This review will be based on the U.S. ''Player Vs. Player'' release of the game.

The controls for Karate Champ are as complex or more so than more modern fighters like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. There are a total of 28 actions associated with the 24 possible joystick positions (they were 4-way joysticks that could be used in combination with each other for 16 positions or either one individually for the other 8 positions). A long time player of Karate Champ will have these all committed to muscle memory but they can be a bit intimidating at first.

Game play starts out easy. The first couple of guys should give no one much trouble. You can use the same move over and over such as the forward kick or use it as a good opportunity to practice some of the more complex moves.

There is no ''life bar'' and the winner of the match is determined by points. The first player to reach 2 points is the winner and will advance to the next level. Each attack that lands successfully will result in a fall and either a half or full point will be awarded (depending on the difficulty or riskiness of the attack). If time runs out before either fighter reaches 2 points then the referee will make a decision as to the winner.

In between rounds there are small bonus stages such as evading or breaking objects that are being thrown at you, breaking boards and facing charging bulls.

The beginner will likely lose on the 3rd level. Intermediate players will make it to the 7th or 8th level. Expert players will get to and sometimes beat the final level (12th) in which case it goes back to the first stage only it becomes next to impossible to beat the computer opponent since he is now at least 3 times as fast as you are.

Graphics and sound were both very good on this game for its day. It even featured human sounding voice from the referee. The moves look like realistic Karate moves and are far less fantasy based than more modern fighting games. The stages for the different levels are nicely done and feature areas that ended up getting nicknamed by players when they would talk about how far they could get in the game. There was the ''boat'' level, the ''Burger King'' level, the ''windmills'', the ''TeePees'', the ''city'', the ''dojo'', etc.

If any of you Tekken or Soul Caliber players come across this game in the arcade, drop a quarter in and see how quickly you are humbled by this 1984 Data East classic. There are no ''special moves'', ''combos'' or continues but don't be surprised if you find yourself dropping in another quarter after the 3rd level guy gives you a lesson in the School of Hard Knocks.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/20/03

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