Something is always going to keep it low!
I’ve never seen Karate kid. It was a bit before my time, but I’ve seen movies like The Goonies, so that’s really no excuse. I probably should, but I’ve got a stack of ’80s action movies to wade through, and I watch movies about as much as I drink water: rarely enough that you are worried. Funny, I can sit and play games most of the day, but a two hour movie? Nope.
Instead, I played the NES game. Yes, watching the movie definitely would have been a better use of my time. I’m sure it would have provided meaningful context as well, but that’s what the plot synopsis is for.
Karate kid is actually an adaptation of the first two films. The first level is a recreation of the tournament at the end of the original film, while everything that follows takes place in Okinawa, the location of the second. Guess that’s one way of adapting the source material, because I wouldn’t say it’s exactly suitable for video games, but that didn’t stop publishers in the ’80s.
The first part of the game is basically a one-on-one fighting game, but after that it’s that weird side-scrolling beat-’em-up. You start from the left side of the screen and run to the right, as is the law in platform games, and punch guys in the face. Was it in the movie? I read something about the thugs in the grocery store, so maybe this is it.
I guess you can turn it all into a beat-’em-up, but Karate kid is not particularly good. For example, I realized early on that I didn’t need the punch button. There is no real reason for this, the two attacks are just interchangeable. Most enemies die with a single blow whether or not you hit them with your hands or feet. This changes for the last level because Karate kid needed a way to be an extra cock.
It’s okay, I know a way around this. You see, the game only allows two enemies onscreen at a time, so if you jump over two of them and lead them through the level, none of them will appear and you can just walk up to them. ‘at the end. I missed my vocation as a gaming advisor. It is As cheating except you are just enjoying lazy programming.
Speaking of lazy programming, you perform the crane kick and punch by standing still and pressing the kick or punch button. This uses a limited resource which you collect through the minigames and in the game world. You have to keep moving forward or else you will waste your special attacks. It’s awesome because it manages to be simple, confusing, and unnecessary at the same time.
Not that you necessarily need it. Maybe for the boss battle at the end. But when most enemies die in one hit for most of the game, there isn’t much sport in hitting them harder.
You have three lives to complete four levels, and while it may take you a few tries to see the end, Karate kid is of a short disorientation. According to my calculations, there are two types of enemies. Daniel-san changes his outfit three times throughout the game, which is impressive considering there is very little variation from everything else. Someone really thought the protagonist needed a change of clothes, which went against anything that could have made the game really fun.
Karate kid really is one of those low license games that you hear about. Whoever really turns kids on for it then teaches them to be ready for a life full of disappointment.
Or not, because even if Karate kid isn’t much fun, it’s not the worst licensed game I’ve played on the NES. Predator is potentially the worst, but I’ll get back to you with my full report once I’m done.
No, Karate kid is just a waste of time. It feels slapped and technically only works because its gameplay is so straightforward that it would be hard to fail completely. The design document was to be two pages long. Maybe it only contained three words: “Karate = Punch + Kick”. It’s not a bad phrase, it just seems so commonly applied in the most mundane way.
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