Shanghai Karate

Publisher: Players
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Computer & Video Games #79

Shanghai Karate

This isn't the best martial arts combat game on the Amstrad, it isn't even the second best. But it's probably the cheapest! So it's worth a look if your appetite for chop 'n kick games hasn't been eroded by Exploding Fist, Yie-Ar Kung Fu, Kung-Fu Master, Barbarian and so on and so on...

As usual, it's you against the hordes of screaming fanatics as you take on the role of Lo Yin (a Scottish midget?), sworn to defend the sacred scrolls of the Changchun Karate Academy from the evil Wang Chen and his army.

The battle takes place against four impressive landscapes; the battlements of a fortress, a magic forest, a haunted cave and finally the Dragon Temple, where you can hand the scrolls over to your old friend Derek from Slough (well, that's what it says here).

On each level you have to defeat four opponents. You have the usual assortment of offensive and defensive moves, including a flying kick, low sweep, various punches and a useful high jump which takes you over your enemy's head and clear over to the other side of the screen. This is pretty important, because if you are forced off the side of the screen you will fall to your death. You can practise fighting in two-player mode, though as far as I can see this only gives you one level to play on. In one-player mode, the subsequent levels are loaded from tape.

Whilst the backgrounds are very nice, and there are some good sound effects and flashes and bangs, the characters aren't particularly well designed or animated. For a start, both look the same except for the colour of their belts and headbands, which are blue and white, so it's easy to lose track of which character is yours in a clinch. The animations don't have enough frames to make them smooth, so, for instance, if you try a high kick you suddenly find yourself moving straight from a standing start into a flying leap. It's this sort of lack of thoroughness which keeps Shanghai Karate firmly in the realms of "OK budget game" rather than "right little cracker".