The flavour of the moment seems to have a definite bias towards the oriental. System 3's long awaited, and somewhat overdue Karate simulation finally joins the ranks of combat games, which are all the rage on the Spectrum just now.
International Karate is another beat em up fought against backdrops depicting famous cities around the world, rather than in an oriental setting. The game scenario itself is very simple - it ' s a battle between two Karate masters played over three rounds; the first to win two rounds wins that bout. The idea is to outscore your opponent in each round within the 30 second time limit. If you win, bonus points are awarded according to how much time remains on the clock at the moment of victory.
The game allows you to play either one or two players. If you're playing single player then the computer takes control of the opposition. As in such fighting games, there are a multitude of movements available a total of sixteen punches and kicks with which to terrify and generally damage your opponent. Moves are made using different combinations of key presses, using a total of nine keys for each player.The competition is overseen by a judge, who monitors the skills of the combatants and starts each fight by shouting begin' in very clear speech and in case you don't quite catch the command, the words are also printed on the screen in a speech bubble above the judge's head. The battle then ensues and the players have to try to knock down their opponent.
The judge bursts into speech again when one of the players achieves a 'knockout', announcing his decision as to whether a full or half point has been awarded. The first player to reach two points wins the round and if neither combatant clocks up two points, the winner is the fighter with the most points. The player who's the first to win two out of the three bouts is then allowed to tackle a bonus screen.
The first bonus screen is a woodblock-kicking exercise where you have to try to break as many pieces of wood as possible, with points awarded according to the amount of firewood you create. The second bonus screen, tackled by the winner of the second round is a sort of dodge 'em/ punch 'em screen. A variety of objects is thrown from either side of the screen and you have to destroy them by punching or kicking them into oblivion. Again, bonus points are collected according to the amount of damage you wreak. When the bonus screen stage is completed, the winner is transported to another part of the world where the battle resumes and you can find yourself scrapping away in Rio, New York, London and Sydney.
Control keys: Player 1 W to jump, E lunge punch, D walk forward, C chest kick, X foot sweep, Z crouch punch, A walk backwards, Q back lunge punch, W and S flying kick, E and S front somersault, D and S front kick, C and S front side kick, X and S back crouch punch, A and S back side kick, A and S roundhouse, Q and S back somersault. Similar arrangement for player two. 7 to quit game
Joystick: Ram Turbo
Keyboard play: could have been a lot better
Use of colour: reasonable
Graphics: nice backdrops, shame about the rather crude characters
Sound: excellent speech, and some good effects
Skill levels: gets harder!
'The blurb on the cassette cover says 'and you thought you d seen a Karate game'. Unfortunately I have - it's called Way of the Exploding fist and it's better than this. The animation on International Karate is a lot cruder than fist, it takes up less frames than the latter and consequently looks rather flickery when compared directly. There are some glitches as well, like the 'wrap round' when a player gets killed near the edge of a screen - half his body appears on one side and half on the other. The gameplay is a bit awkward too - the multitude of keys makes the game very difficult to get into, but once you've got them sussed it's very easy to beat the computer opponent. IK's redeeming feature is the excellent speech - in my opinion the best I've heard: ft's very clear and understandable. When it comes down to the nitty gritty - ie which Karate game is the best, then I must confess that fist still comes out top. But if you're well into beat em ups, then you might want to add this one to your collection.'
'Yet another fighting simulation. I wasn't much of a fan of this type of game in the first place, and there's now so many of them... I admit that some of them are fun for a while but they do get very boring when all you have to do is beat up your computer. This one is no different from the rest. The graphics are a bit below average for this type of game - I felt the characters were badly drawn and very jerky. Sound is fairly good: there is a nice title tune, spot effects during the game and some very good speech. As for gameplay I can't really say that it's compelling - I found that I didn't need much strategy to beat the computer. Not a bad offering really, considering the price I suppose, but I wasn't really grabbed by the game'
'Such a long wait - this game has been dogged by disaster and problems, and now arrives very late. Maybe a bit too late - lots of fighting games are already nestling in software collections already. International Karate has got a few nice touches, such as the speech, and the backdrops are quite pretty. Somehow, though, it doesn't come across as a polished game: four or five months ago, however, and it might have had a different reception . . . One for fighting fans, really, to complete the collection.'