Producer: Melbourne House
Retail Price: £8.95
Author: Beam Software
Way of the Exploding Fist was virtually unique. A totally original idea presented in a polished, playable format. It founded the entire beat 'em up genre, and imitations have poured forth ever since. Now at last, nearly two years after the game first appeared, the sequel is here.
The warriors of the Exploding Fist have been betrayed and overthrown, and the land has been enslaved by an evil Warlord. But there is still hope - if one man is brave enough to seek out the temples of the old religion of the Exploding Fist, and discover their secrets, he will grow strong enough to defeat the evil Warlord and thus free the land.
You control the only warrior fit enough to settle the score. To find the temples our hero runs through a horizontally scrolling landscape, climbing up and down ladders and jungle ropes, and jumping down holes or even oft high cliffs.
When he encounters a Temple Guardian, the screen stops scrolling and a fight to the death ensues (or your opponent flees off the edge of the screen).
The ultimate goal is to defeat the evil Warlord. To achieve this, the young Disciple has to find eight mystical scrolls and take each to its corresponding temple, thus gaining its power. The length of the disciple's life is governed by his stamina level, this is displayed at the top of the screen. The 'maximum stamina level' begins at a fairly low point, but it increases slowly as more enemies are dealt with. Meditating at a temple also increases this stamina level.
The Temple Guardians come in a number of shapes and sizes. Peasant Soldiers have the least stamina and are the worst fighters. Warrior Guards are slightly harder to defeat. Ninjas, equipped with throwing stars, are better still. Shoguns and Assassins are deadliest opponents of all.
The fighting sequences will be familiar to all beat 'em up fans. There are sixteen moves, accessed by a multitude of joystick wiggles. When a blow is successfully landed, the recipient's stamina level decreases accordingly - a lot for a flying kick, but not so much for a punch. When one of the two combatants runs out of stamina, he is dead. If the Temple Guardian is killed he vanishes - if our hero comes off worse however, he loses one of his three lives and is returned to the last temple he visited. An extra life is awarded each time a scroll is taken to a temple.
Control keys: definable, up, down, left, right, fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: unimaginative use of the Spectrum's own colours
Graphics: a great disappointment, especially when compared to its predecessor
Sound: great shouts and screams during the fight sequences, otherwise average
Skill levels: one
Screens: large scrolling landscape
What's this, the sequel to the only decent beat 'em up on the Spectrum. Well, Fist II certainly isn't going to take that title away from its predecessor. The gameplay is spoiled by the time spent looking for action (it can take as long as five minutes to encounter the next ninja), and even when the action is found it's pretty tedious. Killing a ninja or a pack of wolverines isn't a feat worth telling your mates about. The thinking behind Fist II is sound, but a potentially good game has been marred by bad programming.
I still have a bash on Way of the Exploding Fist, but Fist II seems to have taken the competitive spirit out of the game. The characters aren't as well drawn as Fist, but the landscapes are well designed and give a good feeling of size - it's a pity that some of the landscape repeats itself after only a short walk though. I very quickly got the impression the Fist II contains very little to do, apart from trundling all over the place. Beating up the baddies was fun to start with, but they present little challenge. Fist II didn't really appeal to me.
Technically, there's nothing wrong with Fist II. It's just that stomping around all the locations looking for a few baddies to duff up is so boring. The graphics are neat, and the combat sequences are as playable as in the original. Unfortunately, I think that MELBOURNE HOUSE have given Fist II far too much hype. Having advertised, this for so tong, I would have thought that their programming team could have come up with something a little better than this. The combat practice game on the reverse side is fine, but I don't think that it's worth buying just for that.
The Legend Continues
...all the way down to your feet! Phil South gets his kicks trying out Melbourne House's sequel to Exploding Fist - Fist II!
Game: Fist II - The Legend Continues
Publisher: Melbourne House
Keys: 1,Q,W,E,A,D,Z,X and C
Functions: Too many to list
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair and Protek
If you get your kicks beating the tar out of your mates, then you'll remember Way Of The Exploding Fist. Yeah, you know - a pair of jappy chappies knock spots off each other until one decides to I have a lie down. Okay, I guess, if you enjoy senseless violence, and lets be honest, who doesn't? But it wasn't long before the Exploding Fist formula became a bit of a pain in the neck (Hyah! Ouch), especially with all the other martial arts games bursting onto the scene.
Fist II Incorporates the same joystick movements you had in Fist I, so already proficient fisters can get stuck in right away. The difference comes when you start to move around. The landscape scrolls smoothly to take you to loads of different locations, giving the new game an almost arcode adventure feel.
So how, I hear you mumble through mouthfuls of chop suey, does it play? Velly, velly well, actually.
You are a young disciple of the Way Of The Exploding Fist, and a descendant of the Grand Masters to boot! The people of your land have been enslaved by the Evil Warlord, who rules from within a volcano fortress, and is guarded by warriors and mercenaries, not to mention fierce black panthers. (I told you not to mention them!) But brushing the obvious dangers aside, all you've got to do is fight your way to the Evil Warlord, and destroy him. All!
To achieve this reckless goal, you must get the scrolls (no jokes please), which were strewn around the, land by your ancient forefathers. (One father is enough for most people, but our hero has to have four!) Each scroll is an ancient trigram symbol, like those used in the I Ching, and you've got to learn how to use the magic of these symbols if you're to defeat the Evil One.
Okay, so it all sounds pretty spiffy, sitting there all comfy in your armchair, but what's it like running across the plain pursued by hungry panthers? Well, as a combat game system it certainly takes some beating. You can make 21 different combat moves, which if you consider that it probably takes at least three stages of animation for each move, (plus mirroring the some moves for motion in the other direction) means there's over 120 bits of animation... and that's just for our hero! There are other characters, too. So the quality of the animation and control is truly brilliant.
The backgrounds scroll very smoothly, and are cleverly drawn with careful attention to techniques that mask the attribute problem very effectively.
The baddies are fearsome indeed. Some fling shuriken stars at you, others are highly intelligent and block your every move. But worst of all are the panthers, which spring out at you before you con say Thomas O'Malley. You've got to be faster than the eye can follow, swift as the breeze, and have more strength than an order of curried prawns! in short, a master of the Way Of The Exploding Fist.
So, if you can walk on rice paper and leave no mark, this could be the quest for you. Eeeeeeeee yahhhhhh!
A bumper New Year collection of cheapie rubbish (whoops!) from that king of the skin-flints, Marcus Berkmann, and his preppy pauper (ha ha) Jonathan Davies.
Reviewer: Marcus Berkmann
Not a bad kung-fu-style game which concentrates on sophistication moves and size of game area over everything else. Originally released as the sequel to Melbourne House's mega-seller Way Of The Exploding Fist in 1987, it was raved over by dedicated combat fans (Mr P Snout included). It's fast challenging and the moves are superb, especially the backflip that gets me out of danger with almost monotonous regularity. Watch for panthers and indeed anything that moves - this is not a game for the fainthearted. But whether you'll have the patience to trek through the many screens of not terribly interesting graphics to complete your quest is another matter entirely (I didn't). Not bad, as I said, but it's all just a wee bit dated. Will a new generation of Spec-chums find beat-'em-ups quite as much fun, I wonder?
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.
58% Issue 38
ROBIN: Two years after the success of The Way Of The Exploding Fist, Melbourne House released this follow-up. The warriors of Exploding Fist have been betrayed and their homeland has been conquered by an evil warlord. The player must find the temple of the religion of the Exploding Fist, and thus gain power to overthrow the tyrant.
Fist II was a disappointment - it consists largely of walking around the many locations looking for an adversary to bash up. The fight sequences are enjoyable, but the long periods between bouts are tedious.
RICKY: A poor follow-up to the sensational original, Fist II lacks the compulsion of The Way Of The Exploding Fist. The background scenery repeats itself often, and there's not enough variety in the gameplay.
Label: Melbourne House
Author: Beam Software
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Stripped to the waist, barefoot and alert, a stocky figure stalks through the bamboo thickets. His arms raised, ready to loose an attack of unbelievable ferocity and speed upon any man or beast that may dare to give him a wonky glance.
This, fellow brick-kickers, is the one "you've all been waiting for". Early last year, the entire games-playing 'community' could be found hammering away in Way of the Exploding Fist at computerised or human opponents in ludicrously serious bouts of hand/to-hand GBH.
Now, almost a year later comes the sequel. At face value there doesn't appear to be a whole lot you can do to make a sequel of a game that - essentially - involved little more than kicking things.
So Melbourne House has decided to change things a bit, and actually give you a purpose in life, as opposed to simply wandering around, hacking away at the nearest person.
Your quest is to rid your homeland of a terrible tyrant who is making the lives of your fellow villagers very tedious.
Obviously, your foe isn't stupid enough to leave himself open to attack, and surrounds himself with lots of completely deadly bodyguards.
It's not really worth your while trolling up to the Warlord and suggesting that he should leave your homeland alone and vacate the premises alone when you bear in mind that you are only a novice in the martial arts.
Thus, the first part of the game centres around your self-tuition of aforesaid arts. While walking around, you will stumble upon a number of scrolls. Now, each scroll contains some of the secrets known only to the most boss-eyed and creepy walk-on-rice-paper wizard types as found in all the best Fist-style movies.
Once you've got the scrolls (yes, hahaha very "double entendre", I'm sure) it's off to the nearest temple for a bit of mat-bashing in order to learn their secrets. Once used correctly, you can see in the dark, move immobile objects etc.
On the way, it's highly probable you'll run into a group of black panthers who will quite happily tear you to itsy bitsy ribbons if you don't do something about it. Doing something about it seems to consist entirely of kicking them very hard in the head. Moderately funny but hardly a) mentally taxing / b) socially aware.
Other delays are incurred by dealing with the bodyguards that you encounter.
This is real Fist territory as you flail away with limb and joystick, inflicting increasingly effective blows. Most of the joystick moves from the first game are here, roundhouses and all. Each time you score a hit on your foe, a pleasing graphical whack indicates contact, and his stamina gauge is depleted.
There's a good deal of running around involved in Fist II. As each scroll has its own temple, and you can only use it in the correct one. you'll often have to retrace your steps. As this often involves avoiding the groups of black cat things and more bodyguards, it can become taxing - even challenging.
Graphically it's swings and roundabouts. The backgrounds aren't great, and the scrolling is far from pixel-smooth. On the other hand, your character runs about very pleasantly and the fights are much better than in the original.
From Crack-crack-bam to Which-way-now?-crack-bam.
Lacks polish, but Fist II is still a damned good fight for anyone's money. And this time there's scope for a bit of mapping too.
LET'S DO THE TIMEWARP
Yes! We're going back in time to take a lok at some games of yester-year. Why? Because they've all been re-released for £3 each and they're in your shops now!
This one must go down as one of the greatest computer game disappointments of the decade. If you remember the enormous impact made by Way of the Exploding Fist, a) you're as ancient as I am, and b) you'll probably remember the thrill generated by the first ever martial arts game on a home computer. For the first time, instead of shooting alien opponents, you could punch, kick, knee and chop your enemy into an insensible mass. It was great.
Some time later Fist 2 appeared, and what a massive disappointment it was. For some reason the graphics and animation seem to have degenerated; even worse, although the fighting element was still there, the main thrust, oo-er, was a sort of arcade adventure scenario in which you spent most of your time running around the flip-scrolling landscape looking for something to fight. Peasants, warriors, ninjas, shoguns, assassins and panthers (like, big cat type panthers) try to beat you to a pulp along the way, and after ten minutes of boredom you'll be quite happy to let them.
Theoretically Fist 2 should have been smashing, with the martial arts elements added to the arcade adventure theme. But the backgrounds aren't up to much, the playing area doesn't seem particularly large, and elements such as poisonous gas, and the ability to restore your energy by meditating in a temple, just serve to slow things down.
Give it a miss.
MACHINES: Spectrum/CBM 64
SUPPLIER: Melbourne House
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum
I loved The Way of the Exploding Fist when it came out on the Commodore 64. It was magnificent. A joy forever. Other versions on other machines, however, failed to match it.
The long-awaited Fist II on the 64 was quite frankly a disappointment. Gone was the frantic action, replaced by a lot of pointless wandering broken up by a few fights. There was no sparkle, nothing to make you gasp. The legend of Fist was tarnished.
Sadly the Spectrum conversion of Fist II does nothing to restore that legend. If it had just been a mediocre game - which it is when compared to other martial arts games - that would have been just about acceptable. But other things conspire to make Fist II really annoying.
First of all the cassette case disinegrates on first opening. The flimsy plastic hinge had broken. Okay that happens a lot these days. Side One of the cassette contains the game program. Side Two a combat practice program. Fairly straightforward you would think - except that the cassette label has been stuck on the wrong side of the cassette. So when you loaded the game you got combat practice and vice-versa. Very annoying. I was quite pleased I hadn't forked out any money for this.
The idea of the game is to rid your land of an evil warlord. Again you get the same pointless wanderings - or rather running about - broken up by a few fights, attacks by panthers, collect scrolls, blah, blah, blah.
The fights at least are similar to the old Fist. All the same moves, punches, kicks, leaps etc. That's some compensation - except that during one fight my opponent appeared to seize up giving me an easy - and boring - target.
Fist II is too lightweight to stand comparison with The Way of the Exploding Fist. All things must pass. Sad but true.
Spectrum, C64 £2.99
The legend continues! This time around, our ancient Oriental chum finds himself taking on the might of the evil Warlord and his henchmen. in this four-way scrolling arcade adventure cum beat 'em up, you must journey through a mystical land, accquiring the skills necessary to finish the devilish deeds of your foe.
The original producers of this sequel to the game which started the karate bandwagon rolling in the guise of Way Of The Exploding Fist took the logical step forward and introduced a quest into proceedings as well as hanging onto the (then) highly successful karate fighting format, introducing lots of never-before-seen baddies in the process. Although beat 'em ups such as Fist, etc are rather stale these days, and despite the fact that Fist II is displaying more than a few laughter lines after three and a half years, the game is well worth the asking price, two totally different genres merging nicely to form a challenging and enjoyable game.
THE FIST IS BACK - BUT DOES IT STILL HAVE THE OLD PUNCH?
Two years ago Melbourne House rocked the world with the first real kung-fu game. Here at last you had total control over the player character and could punch and kick your opponent in a variety of unmentionable places. Soon the shops were swamped with clones and copies of the classic Way of the Exploding Fist. Now Melbourne House has been bought by Mastertronic who hope Fist II will mirror the success of the classic original.
The gametape actually contains two games, Fist II and a practice version which is basically the original Fist but with Fist II backgrounds. When you've practised the kicking, jumping and punching moves you're ready to "continue the legend."
It's now centuries since the time when warriors learned the Way of the Exploding Fist and they've long since been betrayed and the land plunged into the tyranny of an evil Warlord. You play a young descendant of the last Grand Master who must search the land for hidden scrolls and temples to relearn the old skills before you can challenge and defeat the warlord who hides deep in his volcano fortress.
The land is a scrolling landscape full of swamps, caverns, forests and cliffs that are riddled with secret passageways and danger. The danger comes in both human and animal form which you must defeat in kung-fu combat or forfeit one of your three lives. These range from the easy to kill panthers (only problem is they attack in packs) to Ninjas, Assassins and Shoguns that can back up their excellent kung-fu skills by throwing deadly stars at you.
The aim of the game is to collect scrolls and take them to the correct alter to gain the use of a trigram. These are mystical symbols that give you extra powers such as extra strength and healing although some aren't so easy to identify.
Unfortunately you seem to roam through endless screens of nothing that take an age to scroll past. The result is that the action (that's almost identical to the original Fist fights) is diluted, spoiling the game. The trigrams are a brave attempt to add variety to the game, but it will take at least an hour to find the first one. Most people will give up long before then.
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