in 1985, Yie Ar
Kung-Fu is a 8-bit fighting game where the main character, named
Oolong, fights against various martial arts masters to win the title of
"Grand Master" and honor the memory of his father. In the arcade
version, the player fights against 11 other martial artists (5 to 13 in the home
versions). Yie Ar Kung-Fu is the
first fighting game to feature a variety of unique martial arts-based
characters, fighting styles, and stages. While originally inspired from early Kung-Fu and martial arts films,
this basic "trait"
of characters fighting against one another in different locations
is something that would later be used in nearly all future competitive fighting games.
Furthermore, Yie Ar Kung-Fu was the first video game to feature two character life
bars at the top of the screen which drained into the letters "K.O"... another
iconic trademark that nearly all future fighting games would adapt.
that drain into the letters "KO".
At the time of its release,
Yie Ar Kung-Fu
was a noticeably colorful and sharp-looking video game. The character animation was
indeed eye-catching in 1985 and definitely what you'd call "next gen"
for the time. Back then, characters in video games were not known to move so
"smoothly" on screen. The unique background environments were also
notable and added to the immersiveness of the game. For an 8-bit video game, the
characters of Yie Ar Kung-Fu had impressive style and personality, much more-so than
most other fighters who appeared in other popular martial arts games at the time
(such as Karate Champ).
Yie Ar Kung-Fu's gameplay is intuitive and simple. The basic controls
include: Moving (left or right), Jump, High Attack, Middle Attack, and Low
Attack. Avoiding enemy projectiles and attacks is an important aspect of the
gameplay and requires the player to "jump over" said attacks. On that
note, Yie Ar Kung-Fu featured some of the very first fighting game
fundamentals that would later become a staple in future fighting games.
Inspiration for the first
stage of Street Fighter?
The main character Oolong can perform a total of 16 different attacks. CPU
opponents have far fewer attacks, but many can use projectiles, weapons, and
other tricks. Regardless of the attack that defeats the opponent, male opponents
will comically fall unconscious lying on their backs with
their legs apart (while twitching their feet), while female characters always
fall on their sides. This visual aspect is still a hilarious and memorable
trademark of the game, to this day.
When the player gains an extra life, the word "xie xie" is heard
(Mandarin for "thank you").
Yie Ar King-Fu became the second best-selling computer game in 1986 in the
United Kingdom. After its arcade debut, the title was later ported to
the MSX, Commodore 64, Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and NES. Yie Ar Kung-Fu was
on Xbox Live Arcade (Xbox 360) on July 18, 2007 with updated graphics, and was
included in the Nintendo DS in the compilation, Konami Classics
Series: Arcade Hits.
Imagine Entertainment, Konami
MSX, NES, Commodore 64, Amiga, ZX Spectrum, Xbox 360 (Live Arcade), Nintendo
DS (in Konami Classics)
My earliest memories of Yie
Ar Kung-Fu were playing the game at arcades in the 80's, possibly while
being held by my mother and/or father (and eventually standing on a crate to
reach the controls). As an 80's kid, I loved martial arts and I loved Bruce
Lee... so Yie Ar Kung-Fu was right up my alley. When the console version
came out, of course I had to have it!
My father was a computer wiz in the early 80's, so I was treated to the
"best" home version of the game at the time... undoubtedly the Amiga
port (nearly arcade perfect). Yie Ar was definitely one of my favorite games at the time, and
really was one of the
only "fighting games" even available for home platforms (AKA computers) at the
time. Little did I know, I would grow up to be a fighting game
connoisseur/critic, and end up loving fighting games for over 30 years. Hmm, maybe
all that practice in Yie Ar Kung Fu actually paid off.
Yie Ar Kung-Fu was very much an early Street Fighter. If Konami
saw the game's true potential back then, perhaps they could've expanded the
gameplay and characters in sequels... and who knows... maybe we would've
been playing Yie Ar Kung-Fu: 3rd Strike years later if Capcom didn't take
the reins like they did when they released Street Fighter II.
At it's core, Yie Ar Kung-Fu was a very simple game, even for back
then... and the gameplay definitely had its limits in terms of depth and fun.
Most of the game is simply jumping around, then using high, middle, and low
attacks when close to opponents. The original version of Yie Ar Kung-Fu
also wasn't even a 2-player competitive title, a concept that Capcom would later
revolutionize the genre with.