Oriental martial arts have been around for centuries. Karate, Tai-Kwon-Do, Kung Fu and Kendo all rely on strength and dexterity with some form of weapon, ranging from rice flails to a clenched fist. However, the well known present day derivative of Ju-Jesu - Judo - differs from other forms of self defence in that no weapons are used at all.
Instead of bashing the living daylights out of an opponent, Judo relies solely on using the strength and weight of an opponent against them.
Uchi Mata offers you the chance to throw either a computer or human-controlled opponent around the screen in a series of bouts, scoring points in much the same way as Brian Jacks would in a live contest. Each bout is played over two minutes and points are scored by successfully throwing the opposition.
All throws are executed by moving the joystick in more than one direction, a sort of sweeping action. However, before your opponent can be thrown you have to get a good grip, done by quickly pressing the fire button when in range. Once a successful grip is made, a 'grip light' is displayed to signal that you must attempt to perform a throw. If a move is not executed as soon as the grip light appears, then another attempt has to be made at gaining a good grip. Once a throw has been performed, the referee appears in the top right hand corner of the screen with his hand outstretched to indicate how many points have been awarded for the throw. Either three, five, seven or ten points are given, depending on how your opponent lands. If you manage to perform a perfect throw, i.e.: the opposition lands flat on his back, then a full ten points are awarded and the bout is over. Otherwise, the player with the most points is declared the winner when the time limit expires.
Whenever a move is made by an attacking player, the defending player can counter it if he is fast enough. If the defending player is actually thrown, then a quick wiggle on the joystick in the right direction will have him landing on his feet.
Only four major moves are provided in the instructions, but by using the training option it is possible to discover undocumented throws and practice defensive moves.
I always thought International Karate was the bees' knees of beat-'em-ups, as it was one of the only games where one particular move couldn't be repeated to send your score spinning forward.
In Uchi Mata, the throw isn't quite so important, but a good grip is. Far more skills required in performing a throw in Uchi Mata than in any other beat-'em-up, it's not just fast reactions and quick thinking which are involved. The idea of a training mode is very sound as it allows you to learn some of the more impressive throws which are not given. Uchi Mata is a game for quick thinking throwers, not snap happy chappies with bash happy choppies.
When this first came in, it seemed really impressive with its wealth of moves, excellent animation and all. On playing I became a little disillusioned: it seemed too easy and opponent after opponent fell to the same move... how boring. Was it another case of the Fist syndrome?
No! After watching and playing a few more games, it became apparent that the third Dan opponent was just about impossible to beat without learning some of the defensive moves - so much for the safe move! Later opponents are really challenging and the game becomes totally addictive as you battle to get a good grip or break your opponent's.
The two player mode is great fun too, especially if both are proficient at the game. Great stuff, highly recommended to all fighting game fans.
At first Uchi Mata seems confusing and unplayable. It's not until you thoroughly read the instructions and begin to use a couple of simple moves that you get into the swing of things. Then, you can really appreciate the game. This isn't a straightforward beat-'em-up, there's a lot more to it than simply pressing the fire button and moving the joystick in one direction.
A good grip is important, as is the position of your feet, and the moves have to be performed quickly and precisely.
A great deal of skill is involved in actually grabbing the opposition and gaining enough of an advantage to throw him. It's fairly easy to get to third Dan with little knowledge of attacking or defensive moves, but to become proficient and progress past third Dan it's essential that you have a thorough understanding of defensive moves. Successfully performing a throw is extremely gratifying and highly rewarding. The players aren't very well drawn, but they move superbly and add to the overall feel of the game. The spot effects are functional and the music is fitting but irritating - fortunately it can be turned off.
Overall, Uchi Mata is a classy, playable simulation which will certainly appeal to those interested in the sport.
Two player and practice options. Adequate instructions and exceptional use of joystick.
Reasonable definition but effective animation.
Simple tune and functional spot FX.
The throws prove initially overwhelming, but are easily mastered with practice.
Ten levels of increasingly challenging and rewarding play.
Value For Money 86%
Could be cheaper, but it's the only Judo simulation available.
An addictive and challenging simulation which requires quick thinking as well as fast reactions.