In the early 1980s, Prince of Persia famed developer Jordan Mechner released his first game Karateka for the Apple II. Karateka was a side-scrolling fighting game where the player took control of an unnamed hero attempting to rescue his beloved Princess Mariko from Akuma’s castle fortress. You must battle your way through Akuma’s guards to reach the fortress, defeat Akuma and save your beloved.
I remember playing this game when I was a little kid. My older cousin had it and, when I would visit, would sit patiently watching him play waiting for my turn. It was awesome back then. Battling enemies with kung-fu kicks and punches was just so amazing for a five year old boy. When I heard that this game was being re-released by the original developer, I had to get it.
In this remake of that great 80s classic, the basic storyline is still the same. You must save your beloved from Akuma. But you now take control of three different characters each with their own fighting style. You fight as Princess Mariko’s true love, a monk, and a Brute. If you fail with one character, the next will take the fallen’s place and continue the battle.
While Karateka stays true to the fighter side-scrolling style, you make your journey through a winding 3D environment. This version utilizes modern game mechanics and 3D graphics to emirse the player in this feudal world. The models are not highly detailed but have a nice clean style which works well helping with the smooth flow of the game. I also particularly like the background sound effects and music. Its far superior to the 80s version.
A similar simplified control system is used in the 2012 version of Karateka. You can only move forward, so any movement of the left stick will make your character walk or run. You also only have a few moves to master as well; punch, kick, block and special attack. During a battle, you must time your blocks and then counter attack with combinations of punches and kicks. Each successful attack builds up chi which you can then use to preform a power special attack. This attack first stuns your opponent allowing you to attack multiple times and finish with another powerful attack.
Karateka is a short and simple game. I was able to blast through it in about 30 minutes. But this is how its suppose to be. It also has aspects of those retro arcade games with replaying this game over and over to beat high scores. There are also a bunch of achievements which challenges the player with beating the game under certain times and with certain characters.
Karateka is a fast pace piece of awesomeness. Any skill level of player can pick this up and have fun with it. Just like days of old, its a very simple game with a very basic storyline but just so much fun. Jordan Mechner is best known for the Prince of Persia series but Karateka is his crown jewel.
This is a must to have and totally worth the download.
Score: 8 out of 10
Metacritic.com: 62 out of 100
Our Take: Great remake of an 80s classic. Simple gameplay and controls make this easy to play.
Available on: Xbox Live
Rated: T for Teen