REVIEW: International Karate was originally
released in 1985 for the ZX Spectrum. The later version for the Commodore 64 and
Atari 8-bit computers were superior to the original, and are noted for their
solid playability and high production value. The later introduced International
Karate + was released in 1987, adding a third karateka, making for an
impressive 3 fighters on screen at once. The defining soundtrack for International
Karate was written by Rob Hubbard (definitely one of the game's strong
Karate Champ had
nothing on this.
In the original game, players take control of
martial artists competing in a kumite tournament. Instead of health bars,
fighters score points on one another. When a point is scored, the match stops
and both fighters return to their starting position. Attacks can either score a
half point or full point depending on the attack. Only two points are required
to win in the original game, but International Karate + requires 6 points
to win, making for longer battles. Bonus games were also introduced in International
Karate + which happened after every two rounds, ranging from deflecting
bouncing balls to kicking away bombs.
This bonus game was hella
fun... and pretty tough.
The original International Karate
featured 5 different stages... Sydney, New York, Rio de Janiero, Beijing, and
Giza. The later International Karate + only one stage. However, it is well
animated and different parts of the backdrop can even be re-colored by players
using specific keystrokes. The characters were generic of course, but their
animations are what made them stand out. The amount of moves that they could
perform was undoubtedly impressive, and the collision detection & ouch
factor was rather solid for the time.
3 player battles... shit
Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, Amiga, MS-DOS,
MSX, ZX Spectrum, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Wii Virtual Console
Listen, if you were playing International
Karate in 1986/1987, you were a badass (and you're still a badass).
In fact, if you're reading this... contact me and say hey, because holy shit,
we're old school and we should reminisce. C'mon, for a fighting game in the 80's, International Karate was superb in more
ways than one. Not only did it have great animation & graphics, but the
solid gameplay system could keep you playing
for hours on end.
Also.... The (10-minute) theme song is beyond brilliant, and still insanely catchy (see
featured video) to this day. When I was a kid, I remember having that song stuck in my head hours after playing the
mean, it's pretty intricate music... especially for a 5 or 6-year-old kid to be
enjoying. In retrospect, I think this song alone might've jump started my
appreciation for digital music at a young age. Thanks for that, Rob Hubbard.
Before the days of fireballs, shoryukens and fatalities; games like International
Karate and Yie Ar Kung Fu ruled the roost. For a fighting game in the
late 80's, this was nothing short of the total package. ~TFG