Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 65 / OCTOBER 1985 / PAGE 76


James V. Trunzo

Requirements: Apple II-series computer with at least 48K RAM and a disk drive; or a Commodore 64/128 with a disk drive. Joystick optional.

This superb action game is a nominee for the Most Underrated Program of the Year. It's a program that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
    The theme of the game is simple. You, the hero, have been away from your village, studying karate under a master. Upon returning home, you find that the Japanese warlord Akuma has burned your village to the ground and kidnapped your betrothed, the lovely Mariko. Akuma has imprisoned Mariko in his mountain fortress, where she is guarded by Akuma's fierce warriors-the least of whom is a first-degree black belt. You must fight your way into Akuma's stronghold and defeat opponent after opponent until, at last, you come face to face with the powerful Akuma himself.
    The Apple version of Karateka has by far the best animation I've seen in an Apple arcade game. The smoothness of the animation, complete with scrolling background and beautiful, full-colored details, makes the game almost as enjoyable to watch as it is to play.
    Using either the keyboard or a joystick, you maneuver your persona about the screen, kicking and punching as if he were Bruce Lee. Each opponent that Akuma sends against you has a unique style. Some are better with their feet, others are better with their hands, some are balanced fighters. As the opponents become tougher (corresponding to your success), they are better able to coordinate several kicks and punches in a row. Victory comes only after you learn the best way to fight the various warriors, each easily identified by his headgear.
    Warriors aren't the only obstacle between you and your beloved Mariko, however. Akuma's pet eagle attacks from time to time, and the fortress conceals deadly traps. Furthermore, even if you vanquish an opponent, you sustain injuries that accumulate as the game progresses. Of course, your opponents are always fresh!
    Karateka has more to offer, too. There are delightful animated sequences showing, among other things, Mariko despairing in her call for help and Akuma sending forth his warriors. There are the sound effects that accompany a victory. There are ... well, to tell you more would ruin the surprise.
    Is Karateka the perfect game? No. When you're defeated, you must start the game from the very beginning. You don't have multiple "lives," each one picking up where the previous one left off. Considering the effort it takes to progress through Akuma's stronghold, this can get a bit frustrating. Also, there are times when you try to throw a kick but your character just stands there. It's not a bug in the program, but I'm not sure if it's poor joystick response, confused commands from trying to throw two punches and two kicks at once, or what. Still, these problems are relatively minor compared to the action and enjoyment that Karateka brings to the screen.

Brøderbund Software
17 Paul Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903