By doing our retrospective on the best games of 1984, we mentioned, how could it be otherwise, the name of Kung-fu Master, by work of the mythical Irem, although in the end we highlighted the work of Karate Champ of Technos Japan (yes, those of the Double Dragon) for being one of the promoters of fighting games three years before the revolutionary Capcom’s Street Fighter in 1987.
1984 was a year of martial arts, since the Karateka of Jordan Mechner (yes, the father of Prince of Persia in 1989), wanting now to pay tribute to the aforementioned Kung-fu Master, a classic of the time to which they owe a lot Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja and all the games of that guise in the eighties.
But what does Jackie Chan paint in this story?
When highlighting an image for the cover of the article by Kung-fu MasterIt caught my attention not remembering that it came from a movie. Specifically, of Spartan X, starring Jackie Chan. Outside of Japan we knew her here as The Supercamorristas
Technically, the game was based on the 1978 movie Game of Death by Bruce Lee, but for commercial reasons the current movie was referred to (at that time, because game and movie are from 1984) to achieve a greater pull towards the public. In fact, Jackie Chan’s character is called the same in the game (Thomas) and the girl to rescue is still Sylvia, seeing how the video game in Japan was called Spartan X to make it more obvious.
Curiosity aside, Irem created a beat ’em up of scroll Limited horizontal in which we had to climb five floors from left to right (or right to left) facing a lot of enemies and traps, until we found Sylvia and rescue her. The problem? It had no end as such, since when we rescued her, we went back to the beginning and the game became harder. So over and over again. It was the way that the Japanese study devised to limit its more than poor duration.
And we are talking about a game that can be aired in about ten minutes, although logically it is not a simple task. After all, it is Irem’s game. Which Irem’s game is easy? None. Here we had to watch our rear, calculate the jumps well and hit each of the blows.
Kung-fu Master, a classic from 1984
These techniques were summarized in fists and kicks, being able to hit also crouched or make a jump with a kick of the most powerful, although somewhat cumbersome. The kick was the easy way
The toughest enemies were the bosses, making use of different weapons, although their attack patterns were very limited and it was not difficult to get the point. Worse were the ones we saw during certain phases, such as those who threw knives at us. constantly force ourselves to jump or crouch. And that there was some trick, as in the first phase: when the one with the knife came to us from the right, we moved away from him to the left without stopping until the boss, causing that no more enemy came out on that route. Curious.
Once we memorized where each enemy left us, the journey became more bearable, especially in those parts with vases that released various dangers if we did not destroy them first. There you could see its seams, also, since it was not a game with a very comfortable jump. But we were also facing a pioneer of the genre, who without Kung-fu Master there would be no Double Dragon or other beat ’em up.
Without going any further, after a mutation, the spiritual sequel to this 1984 classic would arrive in 1988 under the name of Vigilante, with a more American touch in between. Do you mean it had no official sequel? Not at all. It was necessary to wait until 1991 with Spartan X 2, exclusively for the Famicom in Japan. The curious? That an international adaptation was included in Retro-Bit Generation under the name of Kung-fu Master 2 in full 2016, with the fever for Mini NES.
Has it stood the test of time well?
Not much, because of how limited your proposal is or how improvable it is when jumping. But Kung-fu Master is living video game history and its recognition cannot be denied. We owe him much more than meets the eye …
|Platforms||Arcade (analyzed version), NES, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Apple II, MSX …|
- One of the great pioneers of beat ’em up
- Being able to alternate between punching and kicking
- The fists were short, but they had a prize
- The jump was quite improvable
- Being caught by the enemy was tedious
- See how it lasted so little and had no “end”