VIDEO GAME DIGESTKung Fu
P.O. Box 957
Redmond, WA 98052
Nintendo Entertainment System
by Bill Kunkel
Kung Fu, on the NES, is a first-rate adaptation of the Irem coin-op hit (published by Data East in the U.S.) The player controls martial arts hero Thomas, as he searches a five-story building for his captured girlfriend Sylvia. ("Thomas" and "Sylvia"? What kung fu devotee came up with those names?) The way, of course, is littered with stick fighters, boomerang throwers, giants, black magicians, knife throwers, snakes, dragons, poison moths and other unsavory types intent on standing between our Romeo and Juliet.
Thomas, for his part, can deliver several different martial arts moves. Hitting the A button on the controller throws a punch, while the B button instigates a kick. The user manipulates the directional rosette to let the hero move horizontally, crouch and jump. Since the NES controllers are not designed for diagonal movement, the player first moves Thomas to the left or right, and then presses the top of the control pad to leap in the desired direction.
Kung Fu uses a side view display and devotes the top of the screen to score-related data, including the time remaining and a series of markers to indicate the player's current location. It can be played in one- or two-player versions, at two different difficulty settings.
The visuals are simple and highlight the characters at the expense of elaborate backgrounds. The enemies are rendered with individuality and style. Each floor features a specific kind of fighter, and all are instantly recognizable. The stick fighters, for example, are mustachioed and clad in white gis; the knife throwers wear headbands; and the supremely powerful Mr. X, the gang leader on the fifth floor, is garbed in a sleeveless dungaree jacket and wristband.
Dragons arrive on the scene in balls which drop from the ceiling. Snakes show up in little baskets.
Successfully striking any of the bad guys earns points, but the hero's mode of attack often determines how many. Taking out one of the drone-like "Grippers" with a kick is worth 100 points, while a victory via punch or jump kick is good for twice that.
Once the player explores all five floors and rescues Sylvia, the game is still not done. Escape requires the garner to reverse the original route, but at a heightened difficulty level.
Though not quite a classic, this NES version is a faultless reproduction of the arcade game. The arcade machine enjoyed tremendous popularity in the wake of the martial arts mania which swept the coin-op scene in 1984, and the NES version shoud win new converts today.