Producer: System 3
Retail Price: £6.50
Language: Machine code
Author: The System 3 Team
The flavour of the moment seems to have a definite bias towards the oriental. System 3's long awaited, and somewhat overdue Karate simulation finally joins the ranks of combat games, which are all the rage on the Spectrum just now.
International Karate is another beat em up fought against backdrops depicting famous cities around the world, rather than in an oriental setting. The game scenario itself is very simple - it's a battle between two Karate masters played over three rounds; the first to win two rounds wins that bout. The idea is to outscore your opponent in each round within the 30 second time limit. If you win, bonus points are awarded according to how much time remains on the clock at the moment of victory.
The game allows you to play either one or two players. If you're playing single player then the computer takes control of the opposition. As in such fighting games, there are a multitude of movements available - a total of sixteen punches and kicks - with which to terrify and generally damage your opponent. Moves are made using different combinations of key presses, using a total of nine keys for each player.
The competition is overseen by a judge, who monitors the skills of the combatants and starts each fight by shouting 'begin' in very clear speech - and in case you don't quite catch the command, the words are also printed on the screen in a speech bubble above the judge's head. The battle then ensues and the players have to try to knock down their opponent. The judge bursts into speech again when one of the players achieves a 'knockout', announcing his decision as to whether a full or half point has been awarded. The first player to reach two points wins the round - and if neither combatant clocks up two points, the winner is the fighter with the most points. The player who's the first to win two out of the three bouts is then allowed to tackle a bonus screen.
The first bonus screen is a woodblock-kicking exercise where you have to try to break as many pieces of wood as possible, with points awarded according to the amount of firewood you create. The second bonus screen, tackled by the winner of the second round is a sort of dodge 'em/ punch 'em screen. A variety of objects is thrown from either side of the screen and you have to destroy them by punching or kicking them into oblivion. Again, bonus points are collected according to the amount of damage you wreak.
When the bonus screen stage is completed, the winner is transported to another part of the world where the battle resumes and you can find yourself scrapping away in Rio, New York, London and Sydney.
Control keys: Player 1 W to jump, E lunge punch, D walk forward, C chest kick, X foot sweep, Z crouch punch, A walk backwards, Q back lunge punch, W and S flying kick, E and S front somersault, D and S front kick, C and S front side kick, X and S back crouch punch, A and S back side kick, A and S roundhouse, Q and S back somersault. Similar arrangement for player two. 7 to quit game
Joystick: Ram Turbo
Keyboard play: could have been a lot better
Use of colour: reasonable
Graphics: nice backdrops, shame about the rather crude characters
Sound: excellent speech, and some good effects
Skill levels: gets harder!
The blurb on the cassette cover says 'and you thought you d seen a Karate game'. Unfortunately I have - it's called Way of the Exploding fist and it's better than this. The animation on International Karate is a lot cruder than Fist, it takes up less frames than the latter and consequently looks rather flickery when compared directly. There are some glitches as well, like the 'wrap round' when a player gets killed near the edge of a screen - half his body appears on one side and half on the other. The gameplay is a bit awkward too - the multitude of keys makes the game very difficult to get into, but once you've got them sussed it's very easy to beat the computer opponent. IK's redeeming feature is the excellent speech - in my opinion the best I've heard: it's very clear and understandable. When it comes down to the nitty gritty - ie which Karate game is the best, then I must confess that Fist still comes out top. But if you're well into beat em ups, then you might want to add this one to your collection.
Yet another fighting simulation. I wasn't much of a fan of this type of game in the first place, and there's now so many of them... I admit that some of them are fun for a while but they do get very boring when all you have to do is beat up your computer. This one is no different from the rest. The graphics are a bit below average for this type of game - I felt the characters were badly drawn and very jerky. Sound is fairly good: there is a nice title tune, spot effects during the game and some very good speech. As for gameplay I can't really say that it's compelling - I found that I didn't need much strategy to beat the computer. Not a bad offering really, considering the price I suppose, but I wasn't really grabbed by the game.
Such a long wait - this game has been dogged by disaster and problems, and now arrives very late. Maybe a bit too late - lots of fighting games are already nestling in software collections already. International Karate has got a few nice touches, such as the speech, and the backdrops are quite pretty. Somehow, though, it doesn't come across as a polished game: four or five months ago, however, and it might have had a different reception... One for fighting fans, really, to complete the collection.
With so many games based on the thrills and spills of the old Kung Fu movies, International Karate is definitely a worthy attempt at being the best.
Animation's fine, but the backdrops of the various countries you fight in get pretty boring after a while. But then graphics isn't what the games all about. Clobbering your opponent hard and fast's the aim of the game... International Karate has its Bruce Lees positively leaping all over the shop!
The fighters can choose from sixteen different movements but, as you can imagine, the logistics of carrying out these sophisticated moves - especially in a two-player bout! - is more than a set of weary fingers - or even a jaded joystick - can contemplate.
The judge of the fight announces - yes, the program speaks... and it's almost understandable too! - the scores, and puts the players back to the starting grid if the fighting gets too silly.
It's an enjoyable game - but getting the maximum out of your fighting figure is a little difficult. All the same, it's fairly addictive and, if you just restrict yourself to a well- chosen routine of kicks and punches, you can generally get good enough to fight your way through the levels.
There's been an explosion in martial-arts sims since The Way Of The Exploding Fist, as RICKY EDDY and ROBIN CANDY observe in this good beat-'em-up guide. And the ninjas just won't lie down - all they want to do is...
They started three years ago, when Bug Byte revealed an interesting little number called Kung Fu. It was an admirable wireframe attempt to produce a martial-arts simulation - 'probably the most unusual game to be seen on the Spectrum for a long while,' said CRASH in amazement.
But sceptics thought the genre would never catch on. It took Melbourne House to show them the way - The Way Of The Exploding Fist, which sold more than 150,000 copies for the Spectrum and nearly half a million across all formats.
Since then, nothing's kept the combat games down. They've been grotesque (Barbarian), skillful (Fist) and downright silly (Ninja Hamster).
The genre soon caught the nickname 'beat-'em-ups', as the gameplay always involves a player beating up his opponent, whether the computer or another player.
And with the advent of the 128s and their improved sound chips, the fighting effects became more hideous - the most disturbing beat-'em-up sounds must be the animal squeals on Ninja Hamster.
But most of these martial-arts simulations are so unrealistic, set in pseudo-Oriental fantasy worlds, that it's just harmless surrogate violence - and everyone likes a bit of that.
68% Issue 24
RICKY: International Karate has just been re-released by Prism at the budget price of £2.99. It's practically the same as The Way Of The Exploding Fist, but much cruder; the only significant visible difference is in the backgrounds, which take you around the world in five screens.
There are also bonus screens where you can earn extra points by shattering blocks of wood.
But playability is marred by the milliard of keys your fingers have to grapple with.
The game's one redeeming feature is the excellent speech as the scores are called out. I wasn't enthralled by International Karate - it's not very addictive or playable.
ROBIN: International Karate took a long time to actually appear after it was first announced, and I wasn't impressed when I did see it. It still seems awkward to play, and the graphics are disappointing.
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO BEAT-'EM-UPS
A SELECTION OF HISTORIC BEAT-'EM-UPS
Beat-'em-ups, eh? They've been oodles of them gracing the Speccy over the years, haven't there? So many in fact that it's easy-peasy to get your Exploding Fists mixed up with your International Karates, and end up with absolutely no idea where you are. But not any more, 'cos here's Jonathan Davies with the Your Sinclair Definitive Guide To Beat-'Em-Ups!! Hurrah! (Or should that be "Hai-arrgh!"?)
Before we start, let's get one thing straight - beat-'em-ups are not boring, and if you think they are then you've got it all wrong. On the contrary, they're jolly interesting. And, rather than all being exactly the same, they're highly individual affairs, each with their own subtleties and nuances. To assume otherwise exhibits a total ignorance of the creativity and skill that go into making what has become one of the stalwarts of the computer games industry.
So what constitutes a 'beat-'em-up'? Obviously, the beating up of one or more characters is an essential part of the gameplay. Whether this is done with one's hands or a weapon depends on the game. Purists tend to frown upon the use of shurikens, big sticks and other instruments, but it's a sad fact that in these days you're unlikely to rescue your princess without some sort of mechanical assistance. The setting is also important. The summit of Mount Yukahomo is ideal or perhaps the imperial palace of the Dragon master, but an oriental atmosphere is a definite must.
In its traditional form the beat-'em-up takes place on a single screen, with your opponents tackling you one at a time. Variations, however, include the scrolling beat-'em-up (with the bonus of tackling two or more adversaries at once) and the full scale flip-screen, multi-level version with add-on weapons, puzzles to solve and an embossment of up to three initials.
Whichever incarnation it appears in, a beat-'em-up is not to be taken lightly. A sharp eye, lightning reflexes and an elephantine memory (for learning all those moves) are needed, along with the finest joystick available.
THE FIRST EVER BEAT-'EM-UP
"That's easy," you exclaim. "Way Of The Exploding Fist!" But you'd be wrong. The first ever beat-'em-up, the father of them all, the seed from which all future offerings stemmed forth, and of which al the others are but pale imitations, was none other than Kung Fu, from a long-forgotten label called Bug-Byte.
A very primitive construction, it had all the ingredients of the real thing (including tinkly music). Reviewed in ish 11 of Your Spectrum, it scored 3/5 (times where hard). The rest, as they say, is, erm... oh, well you know.
While being a shameful copy of Fist in most ways, International Karate managed to introduce a few novel features. The main one was the 'International' bit, which means that the game is played against a series of backdrops representing various parts of the world. Then there was the speech, which is about as successful as always on the Speccy. And finally the bonus screens. Hmm.
Other than that, International Karate is about as standard a beat-'em-up as you're likely to see. It doesn't quite have the slickness of Fist, and is definitely lacking when it comes to excruciating crunches and things, but it makes a reasonable attempt at animation which is something.
International Karate +, the sequel, startled us all with the introduction of a third character.
YES, it's another karate game. International Karate follows the same format as Melbourne House's Way of the Exploding Fist, and was set to be released at about the same time. Here, finally, is the much talked-of rival to the Fist - and it's pretty good.
The 16 actions are similar to those in Fist and controlled in the same way - eight with, and eight without, the fire button pressed down. They include somersaults, sweeps, a variety of kicks and punches, the spectacular flying kick, and the full Monte roundhouse routine.
Scoring is according to the standard system as well - 30-second bouts, with two full points determining the winner. Bonus points are scored depending on the speed with which you demolish your opponent.
The animation is excellent, and the fighters have a rather more sporting look about them, as opposed to the Melbourne House emphasis on oriental mystery. International Karate is a tournament-based game in which you travel the globe for each stage in the championships. Melbourne House may have the slight edge in animation design, but international Karate has the best backdrops - including a different set on each side of the tape.
We found international Karate about as tough to beat as Fist, but then again, we've had you lot writing in to complain that Fist was too easy. There is really so little to choose between the two programs that it all boils down to style and presentation. Melbourne House wins the laurels for elegance and simplicity of design, but you can't escape the fact that International Karate costs over £2 less.
On that basis, System 3 offers better value for money, and had it been released first we would have given it a Classic award. You may spot differences between the two which we regard as unimportant, but which you feel tip the balance. So try to see both games before you make up your mind - but one of the two ought to be on everybody's shopping list this Christmas.
Publisher: System 3 Software
Joystick: Kempston. Sinclair
Eons ago, a man underwent a strange phenomenon. His fist exploded. Many of his tribe called programmers saw this wondrous sight and decided to try it themselves. They were not very good at it. They ended up in pain with cries of "Yie-ar-kung-fu" or "Ninja- Master". So the exploding fist reigned supreme.
Then rival tribe celled System 3 decided to cash in on the trend, launched it's own version of Fist, "International Karate", and rather inevitably it also failed miserably.
Now years later International Karate is back. What a shame - it's still no good.
On the plus side, like Fist, it has 16 moves including a variety of kicks and punches, and some goodish backdrops. Nice looking game, but a mite too easy to complete for my liking.
Label: Endurance Games
Author: System 3
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
SUPPLIER: System 3
Well, it's finally here, after much singing and dancing (PCW Show). Will it topple Exploding Fist as karate champ or not. Let's compare the two.
Exploding Fist characters are nicely drawn and excellently animated. However, although not bad, the animation and graphics are not quite up to that standard.
The backgrounds on Fist were colourful and ornamental, but on International Karate they are colourful, recognisable and superb.
The gameplay on Fist was good with only one life, whereas with International Karate it is the best of three fights on each round and after each round a bonus screen can be attempted which consists of, on the first bonus screen, a wood block smashing attempt with bonus points for each block smashed and, on the second bonus screen, smashing or avoiding flying objects.
Sound on the Fist was limited to spot effects which were good but sparse, International Karate boasts great spot effects, music and excellent clear speech which announces the start, the scores and the results of the contest (a bit like Jimmy Hill).
Altogether the package is a winner with its international backgrounds and terrific speech. If you already have The Fist this may not be on your list. However, I've got both and play them equally.
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