Thursday 2 February 2017

The Karate Kid (NES review)

Developer: Atlus
Publisher: LJN
Released: 1987

The Karate Kid is an action game that's exclusive to North America.

As Daniel-San, your mission is to defeat Chozen and rescue the hostages. Your attacks are a Punch and Kick, but collecting icons stocks up on special Crane Kicks and Drum Punches. The first stage is a tournament where you need to beat four opponents in one-on-one battles. There's little challenge here, as spamming an attack button is the only skill required. The rest are side scrolling stages but jump commands are often ignored and it's not uncommon to become stuck on part of the scenery. The special attacks require you to stop pressing the d-pad, but in the heat of combat it's easy to accidentally let go causing you to waste an icon. Only two enemy sprites can be on screen at the same time but you can use this to your advantage, as leaving them in your trail results in a free run! In the third stage you face birds, rain and gusting winds; it's an infuriating level, much like Stage 6-2 in Ninja Gaiden (1989, NES), as taking damage forces you to leap backwards, usually into a pit! If you do make it to the boss you don't even have to battle, as simply climbing the tree completes the level! Finally, Stage 4 takes place at the ruins of a castle where you fight against bad guys with spears; many cheap hits occur here due to your opponent's longer reach advantage. Jumping into doorways in Stages 2-4 accesses mini-games which involve catching flies with chopsticks, breaking blocks of ice with your hands, and swinging a hammer; they play okay but quickly grow tired. Similar to Double Dragon (1988, NES), there's also a pointless One-On-One fighting mode that replaces depth with button bashing.
The Karate Kid does a semi-decent job of representing the heart of the movies but unfortunately its gameplay is lousy and poorly implemented. The boring level design is by-the-numbers and the fact that you can see everything the game has to offer in 10-15 minutes means it's ultimately a forgettable experience.
Random trivia: Another game in the franchise called The Karate Kid Part II: The Computer Game was released on the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1987.

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