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!
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.
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