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by Robert B. Cook
text of the present article comes from the review published
in the seventh issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64
£9.95 cass, £12.95 disk, joystick or keys
Another karate game hits the 64, although this time
it's more of an arcade adventure like the arcade game
Kung Fu Master than the Karate Champ clones
which have been released recently.
places you in the age-old situation of rescuing a beautiful
Princess. You take the role of Karateka, master of unarmed
combat, and you are required to fight your way into
the fortress of Akuma and rescue Princess Mariko, an
orientally distressed damsel who's being held prisoner
there. Naturally there are sentries guarding the palace
and these too are a dab hand at karate, and naturally
you have to fight every inch of the way in.
game starts just as Karateka reaches Akuma's mountaintop
castle and the action commences almost immediately.
First you must eliminate the guard standing outside
the main gate. Once this task is completed, you can
enter the gate and gain access to the inner courtyard
of the fortress.
is a lot easier than the initially confusing Way
of the Exploding Fist with its multitude of different
moves. In Karateka there is the usual walk right
and left and you also have run, which is useful when
you want to move to another location swiftly. She only
trouble with the run mode is that you have to pull up,
stop and go into fight mode when you face an opponent.
If you don't, then he'll knock you down with one blow
since you're undefended. During combat there are six
blows under your control: high, medium and low kicks
and punches. The punches are best used in close quarter
fighting, the kicks being more effective when you are
further away from your opponent.
beat an opponent you have to sap him of his energy by
hitting or kicking him many times. His and your energy
are shown at the bottom of the screen in the form of
bars. Every time a person is hit their energy bar diminishes
by a certain amount, and once it reaches zero then the
next punch or kick will kill him. If you break off from
fighting and back away for a while then your energy
slowly creeps back up again -- useful when you've just
had a rather hefty beating.
you've beaten the first opponent and have entered the
fortress the program switches movie-style to Akuma's
room. A guard enters and Akuma points meaningly at the
door, the guard turns and swiftly leaves the room, and
starts pounding down the corridor towards the courtyard
to engage you in battle. Getting across the courtyard
usually involves three or more fights, but once you
have, you reach the entrance to the main keep of the
the building the program switches back to Akuma's room
and another little intermission showing the top guards
being sent out to repel you. These are Akuma's best,
and just in case there's any doubt that they might fail,
Akuma also sends out his Eagle to hassle you while you're
running along the corridor in between fights. If you
manage to fight your way past this lot, then you get
to the inner door inside the fortress. It's here where
you have to battle with Akuma himself in a final deadly
conflict. Should you manage to beat the evil swine then
you'll be able to enter the Princess's dungeon and rescue
her. Oh, and don't forget your royal etiquette either...!
trouble with Karateka
is that the gameplay is really, really slow. It's
so slow it's almost like playing
dream! If it had been speeded up, then the game
would hover on being brilliant, but as it stands
it's just good. There are some nice touches like
the little movie bits in between the action. There's
also an excellent title screen with atmospheric
sound effects showing the Princess being locked
in her cell. Reaching the final door isn't too
hard once you've mastered the fighting techniques,
but every time I try to go through it, it falls
on my bonce . . . this gets immensely annoying
since I can reach the same place time after time.
Still, even with its speed restriction, Karateka
is fun to play, and the desire to rescue the poor
ol' Princess is high. (What's the reward one wonders??)!
title screen and 'movie' intermissions -- no ice
Stunning animation against simple but effective
Atmospheric tunes but weak sound
Who can refuse a distressed Princess
. . .?
. . . but will you want to keep
For Money 78%
Some of its drawbacks lower the
rating a touch.
Excellent variant on a Kung Fu
theme, but it's a shame it's so slow.
Kiminas (31 Aug 2003)
Note: To pass through the falling door, approach
it slowly and stand right in front. Tap the joystick
right as if going through the door, but immediately
tap it again to the left so you don't pass under it.
The door will fall without hitting you. As the door
slowly rises, when it has reached your head's height
(and before it is fully raised), tap the joystick right
to pass through the door at last.
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