Kaiser Knuckle / Global Champion

ABOUTKaiser Knuckle is a 2D fighting game released in 1994 arcades by Taito. Like many other fighting games of the time period, Kaiser Knuckle took heavy inspiration from Capcom's Street Fighter II, featuring a cast of colorful fighters from around the globe. While Kaiser Knuckle didn't have a particularly widespread release, the title was known as Global Champion in regions outside of Japan. The game never saw an official release outside of arcades and never received a console port.

Kaiser Knuckle / Global Champion character select screen.

Kaiser Knuckle features 9 playable characters and 3 non-playable boss characters. An updated arcade version of the game (called Dan-Ku-Ga) was developed after the original release, which made 2 of the boss characters playable (similar to SFII: Champion Edition), but this version was later discontinued. The game features a 6-button control scheme by default (3 punches / 3 kicks) and is the only fighting game that has 5 different strengths of basic attacks. There is also a dip switch option to change the layout to a 5-button format, turning weak attacks into block buttons. All characters (with the exception of General) can perform a Desperation Attack.

Kaiser Knuckle character select art = Not bad.

Kaiser Knuckle also introduced "Power Zones" which are enabled when a player's "Crush Meter" is full and a special move connects. The Power Zones (either fire or electric) can enhance a character's special move with either element for additional damage. Backgrounds and various other parts of stages can also be destroyed when characters are knocked down and when power meters are full.

Kazuya and Mizoguchi hail from the same dojo?

The unreleased updated version Dan-Ku-Ga made boss characters Gonzales and Azteca playable. This version modified several movesets, changed two-button normal attacks into "one button and a direction" inputs, and added a third color for each character. This version was discontinued and never saw an official release but the prototype was dumped onto the internet as a ROM.

Lihua gets a sword? Sure... Seems fair.

FUN FACT: Kaiser Knuckle makes a humorous cameo in the 2010 manga and later anime, Hi Score Girl. The series references and highlights the game's notoriously over-powered and cheap AI, especially when fighting against the boss, General, and even demonstrates an exploit on how to defeat General using a particular special move from Wulong (see featured video above).

Marco... the Darkstalkers reject.


Page Updated: June 13th, 2021
Developer(s): Taito
Publisher(s): Taito
Platform(s): Arcade
Designer(s): Takeshi Kobori       Project Lead
Hiroshi Aoki            Main Programmer
Artwork By: Nobuteru Yuki
Release Date(s): July 1994
Characters Kazuya, Barts, Wulong, Lihua, Liza, Jim McCoy, Gekkou, Boggy, Marco, Gonzales, Azteca, General

Featured Video:

Related Games: Street Fighter 2, SF2: Champion Edition, SF2 Turbo, Super SF2, SSF2 Turbo, World Heroes 2, World Heroes 2 Jet, Fighter's History, Fighter's History Dynamite, Darkstalkers, Fatal Fury, Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, Martial Champion, Martial Masters, Power Instinct, Groove On Fight

Gameplay Engine  5.5 / 10
Story / Theme  4.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  6.0 / 10
Animation  5.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  5.5 / 10
Innovation  4.5 / 10
Art Direction  7.5 / 10
Customization  3.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  5.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  4.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  5.0 / 10
Characters  5.0 / 10

 5.4 / 10



Final Words:

It's difficult to imagine a 2D fighting game in 1994 being successful without an eventual console version, as console ports were evolving and improving greatly during that era. I have a feeling Kaiser Knuckle might've done fairly well and possibly even gained some steam if it appeared on the ol' SNES or Sega Genesis.

As a regular of many arcades in the 90's, either I never noticed the Kaiser Knuckle arcade cabinet, or no arcade that I ever visited actually carried the game (more likely the latter). Compared to most other copycat / "me too" 2D fighters of the early 90's trying to ride the coattails of Street Fighter II, Kaiser Knuckle actually scored some originality points with its charismatic characters and decent visuals / animation.

The Art Direction for the game is surprisingly a strong point! Character illustrations by iconic manga artist Nobuteru Yuki definitely "carry" the obscure and somewhat generic characters designs of Kaiser Knuckle, but the game's weak points are pretty apparent when compared to the best the genre had to offer at the time.

To put things in perspective on the fighting game timeline, Kaiser Knuckle released the very same month as Darkstalkers 1. Furthermore, blockbusters like Samurai Shodown II, Killer Instinct, and X-Men: Children of the Atom came out in just a few short months after Kaiser Knuckle. While Kaiser Knuckle couldn't hold a candle to those games visually (or technically), I think it aged slightly better than some other obscure 2D fighters from the time period. 
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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