Producer: Melbourne House
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £8.95
Language: Machine code
Author: Gregg Barnett, Greg Holland, Stephan Taylor, Damian Watharow and William Tang
Melbourne House used to be well regarded just for their adventure games but the release of Starion changed that. Now we have come to expect good arcade games as well. Those good old 'Cobbers' from down under have caused quite a stir with their Karate simulation.
In The Way of the Exploding Fist you control a single character competing in a Karate match against either the computer or against anybody or anything else that can use a keyboard or joystick. Since Karate offers such a wide variety of moves the control system is necessarily complicated. The one player mode allows either the keyboard or the joystick to be used, but in the two player mode at least one player must use the keyboard.
The keys are definable but they are best set up as a square, three keys by three keys - that way, each key represents one of the eight directions obtainable on a joystick. A ninth key provides the joystick fire option, so shifting the eight keys allows a further eight functions, giving the sixteen options needed. With the keyboard set up in a similar way to the joystick it is best to regard each of the eight functions as directions on a compass, eg pushing the joystick diagonally right is the same as using the key on the top right hand of your key square in which case both the key and joystick direction can be referred to as north west or NW.
Whether you use the keyboard or a joystick, as you can imagine learning the controls will take a little time, but they have been laid out in a helpful way. For example all of the kicks are produced when the fire is held down: N gives a flying kick; NE a high kick; E a mid kick; SW short jab kick and S forward sweep which is a more of a flailing action performed with one leg from the crouch position. The backward kicks also rely on the fire button being pressed, but this time in conjunction with the north east and north west controls. Without fire, pushing N makes your character jump, thus avoiding sweeps or low jab kicks. NE produces a high punch, E moves the character forward, SW gives a punch to the belly, S is a crouch and low punch, SW a back somersault, W backwards walk and defensive block and NW makes your man perform an elegant forward somersault.
Learning how to produce the various moves is only part of the story: appreciating when each of the available moves is best used is just as vital. The literature enclosed with the game goes some way to pointing out the pros and cons of each of the moves but a great deal can only be learnt by experience. It's best to start by mastering some of the easier moves which will be quite effective against the low order opponents. For example the short jab kick is quick and effective at close range, as only the higher level Dans will be able to defend against it with ease. One of the better moves is the forward sweep, which can be both offensive and defensive - if the enemy is within range it is very difficult to avoid. The misnamed roundhouse kick allows you to turn about and deliver a vicious mid level kick, but it takes some time to perform so you could be exposed to attack before your blow is delivered.
The somersaults are useful for escaping from the reach of your opponent but, when using the backwards somersault, make sure you know how to turn around otherwise you are going to have your back to your enemy while you are fiddling with the controls. The other defensive moves also require some appreciation. There are two types of defensive blocks: a high and a low block. It would be as well to remember that while you may be able to fend off one aggressive move with one type of block your opponent could change to a move which circumnavigates the block you are holding. Clearly the solution is to change blocks, but that requires absolute knowledge of the controls and the effect of various moves so that you can pre-empt your opponent's attacks. Because there is no block against low sweeps it's worth mastering those two moves at an early stage.
Your sole aim when battling against the computer is to reach the exalted rank of 10th Dan. In all, there are eleven levels. Your first fight will be against the Novice - a much battered individual - and you should be able to deal with him with just a little mastery of the basic moves. If you impress the judge (he's the little bald headed bloke with the Mexican moustache) you will be awarded half a point in the form of a yin or yang symbol. A full point (a yin-yang) is only awarded for moves which the judge considers to have been executed very well, so a poorly executed but punishing body blow may only be awarded half a point.
The symbolic points relate to our performance in any one bout; to defeat an opponent you must win both bouts, even if only by half a point. In order to progress through the levels you must defeat each Dan in two bouts, and if the computer gets the better of you in a bout then it's back to bashing the Novice. If a bout ends with a draw then you will get the chance to fight that bout again.
Points for the match as a whole are displayed at the top of the screen. These match points are awarded according to the type of move you use. For instance, a straight punch is worth less than the more difficult 'roundhouse kick'. If a move is performed well and is rewarded with a full point, then the match point value of that move is doubled. Fighting against the computer is very good practice for combat against another person because, as you move up from one level to another, you can take comfort in the knowledge that your next opponent is going to be meaner and cleverer than the last. As an added stimulation to training, remember your opponent has only to win one bout and you go back to the start again.
Competition against a fellow human can be more challenging but this time the match is decided in favour of the contestant with the highest score after four bouts. If, during a bout, the time limit is reached and the yin-yang points are even then the judge will order a that bout to be fought again until there is a clear winner.
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Sinclair and Kempston
Keyboard play: very good
Use of colour: excellent backdrops
Graphics: very smooth animation
Sound: good bashing sounds
Skill levels: 11
Screens: 4 backdrops
It's here at last! it has certainly been worth the wait. This is by far and away the best sports combat simulation available yet. Complete with oriental scenic backdrops, the game flows into Karate mania. With its fab, even dynamic graphics, the kicks and punches seem to have a strength and purpose. I enjoyed The Way of the Exploding Fist - having mastered the simple straight kick and punch I quickly began to delight in the more complicated moves, back and spinning kicks integrated with the odd somersault. The wide variety of moves means that you are never limited in your means of attack and counter attack. Addictive is the word.
On the Spectrum there have been few good representations of the noble martial arts. Kung Fu by Bug Byte was probably the best, but it had so few moves and was painfully slow. Melbourne House's Way of the Exploding Fist puts that to rights. It has a stunning 18 moves that can be performed with astonishing speed and accuracy, just like the real thing. It can take quite some time to get used to all the available moves, and I found the two player mode best for practice before tackling the computer. Once the moves have been mastered the game starts to really open up and become fun. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Spectrum version; the two central characters are perfectly animated against scenic backdrops which provide pleasant surroundings to have a good fight in! The sound is very limited but it does enhance the game - not quite the screams of the CBM64 original but politer squeals of pain. Exploding Fist is immense fun to play and it really comes into its own on a two player game especially when you are evenly matched. I'm not sure how long it will keep you addicted for, but it certainly kept me up late. Though the weather hasn't been very sporty the recent releases of sports simulations have more than made up for it!
Exploding Fist, now that it has finally appeared on the Spectrum, is the best game in the genre to appear yet. Though not as colourful as its Commodore and Amstrad cousins, the speed and gameplay is nearly identical. In fact the monochromatic figures are just as effective in their own way as the Commodore's blocky sprites. Differences that I noticed included the computer opponent's increased viciousness, which makes the game lot more challenging and playable. Getting the fight actions you need can be a fumble at first, but after a bit of practice things get a lot clearer. The sound effects, though sparse, are effective: there's nice thud when a fighter hits the floor and a nasty crack noise when someone gets hit. I particularly enjoyed the two player option which has to make, Way of the Exploding Fist one of the best two player games around. It's definitely the best beat 'em up yet on the Spectrum and is good value for money.
Practically every software shop now sports row upon row of irresistibly shiny, incredibly tempting re-releases. If this array of gorgeous goodies leaves you breathless and confused (even £1.99 is a waste if it's spent on something truly bad), never fear. With years of experience on their side, a metaphorical teacup soothingly poised and plenty of calming advice, MARK CASWELL and KATI HAMZA are about to cool your troubled brow. Pause before you squander all your silver pennies. Collapse into a comfortable chair and peruse our guide to a few of the better re-releases...
Way of the Exploding Fist
Original Rating: 92%
When Melbourne House's Way Of The Exploding Fist first hit the streets, it was heralded by CRASH as 'definitely the best beat-'em-up yet on the Spectrum'. As a one or two player game, it invites you to take part in a karate tournament; if you keep winning long enough you may even reach the exalted rank of Black Belt 10th Dan.
There are 18 different combat moves, including forward somersault, backward sweep, short jab kick and the mysterious Round House (very effective, but takes an age to get the hang of). The better your performance the higher your number of ying-yang points. (and you know what they say about getting your daily does of yings and yangs, don't you?) (No - Ed) (Oh well, never mind!).
What was an outstanding beat-'em-up in October 1985 isn't quite so astonishing now; the superior animation and greater complexity of games like IK+, Target; Renegade and Street Fighter has seen to that. If you're not too fussy about fancy graphics, can't get enough of beat-'em-ups and for some strange reason missed out on Exploding Fist when it first appeared, go out now and buy. After all £1.99 is a small price to pay for some pure, unadulterated, smash-it-up fun.
Pain is the name of the game. And the game is The Way of the Exploding Fist from Melbourne House. Dougie Bern has been playing it for kicks!
Now I'm not Bruce Lee but as a tyro practitioner of the Martial Arts, I was a bit sceptical about reviewing The Way of the Exploding Fist. How can you capture the excitement of karate on a computer? Well, now I've seen the game and all I can say is wow - or should that be POW! This is truly a blockbuster - as any good karate game should be!
Never let anyone tell you that Speccy games aren't still the best. The graphics of the two karate combatants are superbly animated and very realistic, showing just what can be achieved with a lot of hard work and attention to programming detail.
It is your task to progress through the ascending Dan grades until you attain the exalted rank of a master. But the path is arduous so be prepared to take a few knocks along the way. At each level of the game you must beat your opponent twice before proceeding onto the next stage. Use the complete karate arsenal to knock him to the ground - direct hits score a full match point but you'll still get half marks for a badly executed move. No need to commit hara-kiri just yet!
You can call on a complete range of eighteen different punches, kicks, blocks and sweeps to pulverise your opponent with. What's more, all the moves are true to life and very accurately reproduced. But watch out 'cos the more skilful you become, the more accurate he gets - so prepare to eat a few sand sandwiches as well as those of the knuckle variety.
At first you'll find yourself slightly overwhelmed by the number of options you have at your disposal. Eighteen different moves means a brain-numbing choice of keys for you to master. But the controllability and speed of response of the game are excellent and produce an amazing sense of realism. You can almost feel your fist as it smashes into your adversary 's face.
Though it's tricky at first, The Way of the Exploding Fist certainly simulates a good karate match. Definitely a game to chop around for!
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.
WAY OF THE EXPLODING FIST
92% Issue 21
ROBIN: In this, the original beat-'em-up, the player has to fight through 11 levels to reach the rank of Tenth Dan. At your disposal are a whole host of movements, which are easily used with a joystick.
When this was released in the autumn of 1985 it was one of the most enjoyable games around, and even today I occasionally find myself returning to this golden oldie; The Way Of The Exploding Fist holds a special kind of magic because it was the first worthwhile game of its type.
The movement of the monochromatic characters is good, though sometimes a touch sluggish. Like many beat-'em-ups it's a bit too easy to be addictive in the long term, but the two-player option is fun, and The Way Of The Exploding Fist is worth looking at.
RICKY: Despite its age, The Way Of The Exploding Fist has stood up very well, retaining its exciting and addictive elements. It's no wonder a game of this standard set off such a massive craze, and I'd still Smash it, so...
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.
Way of the Exploding Fist, The
The game that launched a thousand others. Can it really be 38 years old already? Known simply as Fist to its millions of fans, this laid the foundations for all that were to follow, and without doubt remains the most famous beat-'em-up of all time.
Classic moves brought to us in Fist for the first time were the unsporting but very rewarding punch-in-the-stomach, the boot-in-the-back-of-the-head and the useful kick-in-the-shins. This last move, unfortunately, proves to be the games downfall (in one-player mode at least), as its repeated use leads to attainment of 10th Dan level within minutes.
Sonically Fist remains perfect. Music is restricted to a marvellously irritating tune at the start of each level, and the sound effects still bring tears to the eyes. The graphics, too, are examplary.
Unfortunately, rather than bow out and watch all others scrambling onto the bandwagon, Melbourne House decided to hang in there. Fist's follow-up was the forgettable Fighting Warrior, then the distinctly average Fist II. The final humiliation was Exploding Fist +, almost a direct copy of International Karate + (qv). Nonetheless, Melbourne House was there first, and can be held entirely responsible for the situation today.
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
5. Way Of The Exploding Fist
Virgin Mastertronic/Issue 53
Reviewer: Jon Pillar
The program that stamped the beat-'em-up into Speccy culture. WOTEF still hangs together well as a game. Naturally best with two players, it's one of the few games to be made by the FX - they sound horribly painful.
Publisher: Melbourne House
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston
Uttering a bloodcurdling ki-ai, the black-robed ninja hurled his muscled body against the evil sensei of Mel-Bon ryu. A series of percussive kites was countered by the feared 'attack of the astral Ho-Bits'.
Reeling from the force, the ninja leaped instantly into the air and brought his calloused feet, like twin axes, down on his opponent's joystick. In a wail of agony the sensei, Spectrum, Ferguson 12" and all went down in a mess of black wires, crushed cartilage and broken Quickshot II.
Melbourne House has gotten all bloodthirsty for its latest, a simulation of karate which offers 16 different moves and an extremely tough series of opponents.
Everything is joystick controlled, and you'll find a stick essential for any chance of success. The moves allowed are split into two sets. The normal eight joystick positions translate into movement backwards and forwards, two punches, crouching, jumping and somersaults, forward and back.
With the fire button held down, the eight positions become more aggressive. Three kicks, high, low and mid, form the basic arsenal, with a spectacular flying kick thrown in. You can also sweep from the crouching position forwards and back, or produce the well-known roundhouse kick, which involves spinning round and catching the enemy on the jaw with the back of the heel. There's also a straight back-kick.
The key to the game's addictive playability is the intelligent way those actions are planned, so that once you are familiar with the controls, the movements are logical and instinctive.
Graphics are pleasing too. The animation of the two fighters is near perfect, with a satisfying crunch as foot connects with bone. It's sufficiently sophisticated for you to be able to hit your opponent while he's in mid-execution of a move, allowing for feinting tactics. Virtually all the moves can be aborted halfway through and turned into something else; in short, the variety of strategy possible is remarkable for an apparently simple arcade game.
The backdrop of each round is suitably Japanese in flavour. A short, balding instructor looks on as you fight under the cherry blossom, or across the tatami mats.
You start as a novice and must win two rounds to progress to first Dan, and so through to tenth. The first round is relatively easy, and provides good practice, but life gets tougher, and you need all your cunning to survive for long at higher levels. Each round is scored, and has a time limit. You must get two full points to win, symbolized by yin-yang circles on the screen. To score a full point you need to be perfect in your attack.
As a sports simulation, this is one of the finest and most realistic we have seen. As an arcade game, it's addictive and pacy. As a product, it's clearly destined for the top.
Author: ??? ?????
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Re-releases of full price hits are rarely more welcome than this one. Way of the Exploding Fist was the first two-player martial arts simulation, and in its simplicity is arguably still the most enjoyable.
Two nicely-animated warriors face each other against a series of colourful oriental backgrounds. Each has sixteen moves available ranging from throat chops to flying kicks. Your player automatically blocks offensive moves if you are in defend mode and blows are accompanied by muffled cries and thuds. Nice little touches include opponents bowing to each other before the bout, the stern judge sitting in the background, and the expressions of agony as your opponent is hacked about the shins, make this a must buy.
Should you own an 8 bit machine and you're on the lookout for a high class beat-em-up, then look no further than this little number. Originally released at full price by Melbourne House, you can now snap this game up at a bargain price. Like International Karate, you've got 16 moves to use against your opponent in the fight to impress the judge. Manic cut-throat action for those who like their competition fierce.
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Kung fu fans will love this karate simulation. Sixteen different movements give a fine selection of kicks, punches, jabs, somersaults and spectacular leaps and turns. Some can be combined for exotic moves of great difficulty.
Superb animation, supported by suitably oriental backgrounds, lend atmosphere to the game, but it's the system which counts. Luckily the joystick is so organised as to make it very easy to learn the moves. Then all you have to do is beat your opponent. That's not so easy - the computer displays considerable cunning after the first few levels, and always seems to be thinking four moves ahead.
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