YES, it's another karate game. International Karate follows the same format as Melbourne House's Way of the Exploding Fist, and was set to be released at about the same time. Here, finally, is the much talked-of rival to the Fist - and it's pretty good.
The 16 actions are similar to those in Fist and controlled in the same way - eight with, and eight without, the fire button pressed down. They include somersaults, sweeps, a variety of kicks and punches, the spectacular flying kick, and the full Monte roundhouse routine.
Scoring is according to the standard system as well - 30-second bouts, with two full points determining the winner. Bonus points are scored depending on the speed with which you demolish your opponent.
The animation is excellent, and the fighters have a rather more sporting look about them, as opposed to the Melbourne House emphasis on oriental mystery. International Karate is a tournament-based game in which you travel the globe for each stage in the championships. Melbourne House may have the slight edge in animation design, but international Karate has the best backdrops - including a different set on each side of the tape.
We found international Karate about as tough to beat as Fist, but then again, we've had you lot writing in to complain that Fist was too easy. There is really so little to choose between the two programs that it all boils down to style and presentation. Melbourne House wins the laurels for elegance and simplicity of design, but you can't escape the fact that International Karate costs over £2 less.
On that basis, System 3 offers better value for money, and had it been released first we would have given it a Classic award. You may spot differences between the two which we regard as unimportant, but which you feel tip the balance. So try to see both games before you make up your mind - but one of the two ought to be on everybody's shopping list this Christmas.