Producer: System 3
Retail Price: £9.99
Author: Archer Maclean
Two years after the appearance of the original, a sequel to System 3's International Karate (68% in Issue 24) has arrived. The imaginatively-named IK+ again features a two-player option, but this time there's a trio of new moves, a remixed Rob Hubbard soundtrack and a new approach to the gameplay.
Press FIRE and the action begins with the appearance of three players - one controlled by the player and the other two computer-controlled (or, in two-player mode, two controlled by players and one by the computer). A free-for-all ensues, with each combat- ant attempting to knock down either opponent. The player has 14 different moves accessible via the joystick in conjunction with FIRE, including a double kick, head butt, back flip, front punch and high kick.
Points are awarded to a fighter who knocks down an opponent with a successful kick or punch - one point for a reasonable knock-out and two for a particularly good job. The objective is to score five points before the others, or to score the highest within the 30-second time limit.
If a fighter scores five points, his time remaining is turned into bonus points. The second-highest scorer goes through to the next round, and for the lowest scorer it's game over. If no players score five, the two highest scorers progress.
The action starts on white-belt level, and progresses through yellow to green, purple and finally black. The levels get progressively more difficult, with black-belt level requiring fast reflexes to survive.
When every third level is completed there's a chance to increase score on a bonus screen. The fighter appears in the centre of the screen and is armed with a defensive shield. Balls bounce into the screen from either side and are deflected to increase the score. 100 are given for each ball deflected, with their speed increasing in velocity till one knocks over the combatant, whereupon the next level is tackled.
Joystick: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: only one background (complete with rippling river), but the animation of all three participants is amazingly fast, accurate and smooth
Sound: excellent Rob Hubbard remix on 128K; 48K effects also add to the atmosphere
Options: one or two players
IK+ is definitely the best fighting game on the Spectrum. I've been playing it for two days solidly without a sign of boredom (admittedly I'm still on purple belt!). The graphics are quite pretty; the men are the same as The Way Of The Exploding Fist's, years ago, but the colours and animations of the background are very good. The music is very subdued, even on the 128K machines, but it's an excellent tune, and though the spot FX are somewhat unatmospheric (they sound more like slaps than flying double face kicks), IK+ zips along at a terrifically addictive pace.
IK+ is a vast improvement on its predecessor. It's very professionally designed in all aspects, particularly in the graphics department. The beautifully varied rippling-water effects and setting sun are complemented by the smoothly-animated, fast-moving characters, leaping and flipping around the screen in barely-restrained chaos. It is just easy enough to full you into a false sense of security, just difficult enough to reward you with a kick in the face. The onscreen presentation is clear and informative, with many lighter touches and a more relaxing (!) bonus screen to offset the manic kicking and punching. You also get a long list of options (the two-player mode is great) and a neat booklet. Add to this an extensive high-score table, and you have one of the most professional and action-packed beat-'em-ups on the Spectrum.
You may have thought The Way Of The Exploding Fist was addictive with its one-on-one combat, but when you throw in another computer-controlled character the urge to bash even more people to the ground is immense. And IK+'s improvements on International Karate are obvious - gone is the flickery animation, and in its place is a wide range of well-executed moves; gone is the tacky speech synthesis, replaced with a superb soundtrack and effects. But where IK+ scores so highly over the competition is in the amount of action. You've got to keep an eye on two opponents, and the bonus screen requires skilled hand-eye coordination. This is the martial-arts game to go for.
Reviewer: Jonathan Davies
Ancient Japanese legend tells of a time when software producers were so short of ideas that all they could come up with were hundreds of Exploding Fist clones. They say old legends never die...
I needn't tell you what International Karate Plus (or IK+, as System 3's trying to sell it as) is the follow-up to. That you can probably work out for yourself. What you may be clamouring to know on the other hand, is what progress has been made since those early days, if any.
The most obvious development is that with Plus, there are three blokes on-screen at once. Up to two of them can be controlled by players, so if two people are playing it's often good idea to finish off the computer's fighter first and then get down to the nitty gritty.
Why? Well, the bods who come first and second in each round get to move on to the next round, but the dishonourable tosh who comes third has to pack his kimonos and leave.
Every couple of rounds there's a bonus screen in which you have to deflect balls that come bouncing towards you to score extra points. And there's also a more than reasonably listenable 128K soundtrack, which helps to cover up the otherwise naff sound effects.
All the familiar moves are here, plus some you may not have encountered before. My personal fave's the headbutt, closely followed by the double face kick which lets you flatten two other players at once. Mean stuff.
I can't say I thought much of the graphics, though. They're all sort of splodgy with thick black outlines, but at least they do the job. The background is nice, though, with an interesting wobbly effect on the lake. (What poetry! Make this man the Poet Laureate immediately! Ed) So, although this is probably the best of the karate games, it's still... Just another karate game. There's no attempt here to prod anything new out of the old genre, except of course that's it's more slickly programmed and a bit more fun to play. The package is different; the game remains the same.
Still, anyone still playing Fist after all these years shouldn't miss out on this one.
WHAT A BARG!
Summertime, summertime, summer, summer, summertime! Hurrah - summer is here! And what better way to celebrate the advent of sunny, carefree days than by locking yourself in your bedroom and playing a load of Speccy games? With the seemingly unstoppable spread of budget software, we here at YS thought it would be quite a wheeze to sort out the brass from the dross. So take your seats and upset your neighbour's popcorn as JON PILLAR whisks you with shameless bias through a roundup of the best £3.99ers around.
BEAT 'EM UP GAMES
Hit Squad/Issue 27
Reviewer: Jon Pillar
In quite possibly the most clever move ever in the history of the universe, IK+ took the two-player fight game and introduced... a third player. At last you could double-team the Speccy, or more likely, double-cross your pals. Thwackingly good fun, even in one-player mode.
Chop! Slash! Kick! Gouge! And why not! Combat games seem to be coming back into style, if anything; just when you thought it was safe to change out of your pyjamas, International Karate Plus nuts you from behind.
"Call it a sequel, and you'll end up flat on your back" claims the advertising blurb. Well, IT'S A SEQUEL, YAH BOO!, and that's all there is to it.
The gimmick is that unlike the original International Karate, where you had the standard one opponent at the time. IK+ (as we kung-fu masters call it) gives you two simultaneous opponents to demolish, either one computer-controlled and a second player using the keyboard, or both computer-controlled.
As the sun sinks slowly in the background, your task is to do as much damage as possible in each thirty-second round. As usual, there are sixteen different moves controlled by joystick or keyboard, including back flips, face kicks, low sweeps, stomach punches and the "Glasgae Kiss", the auld heidbutt.
Scores are awarded according to the viciousness of your attack; 800 for a Front Face Punch, for example, but only 100 for a Stomach Kick from behind. I should think so too. You also get "combat points" displayed as coloured discs, and the first player to attain six points wins the round. The player with the smallest score is then O-U-T spells out. Not a bad effort, then, but unlikely to create new fans for this type of game.
Label: System 3
Author: Archer Maclean
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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