Push ‘T’ to make your trousers fall down.
Before Street Fighter 2 re-wrote the rule book on how to make a fighting game we had some really rather different scribes. One of which was Archer MaClean, the creator of International Karate. You couldn’t credit the guy with being the original writer of that pugilistic rule book. After all, Data East the makers of Karate Champ, tried to sue his balls off for similarities between his game and their bull punching karate extravaganza.
Of course the case was thrown out of court. I mean, if we’ve learned one thing from Steven Seagal, it’s that you can’t copyright Karate.
Of course both games are winners as Karate Champ will always be remembered as the first great one on one fighting game, even if most people couldn’t get their heads around those duel joystick controls. Jean Claude Van Damme managed ok with it.
If anything, Archer MaClean’s Karate game closer resembled one released a year earlier to home computers by Gregg Barnett. The Way of the Exploding Fist.
I’m saying nothing, it’s a completely independent body of work.
Way of the Exploding Fist is a game which not only has the honour of having one of the most awesome names in gaming history, but may also have pioneered that distinctive control system in which MaClean’s games followed suite.
Feast your eyes on this stunning array of moves in International Karate +, a bone staggering 14 in total. Kiss that M.Bison!
But it wasn’t the slick controls that elevated the International Karate series above all the others. It was the inclusion of one little game mechanic, or more accurately, one extra game sprite.
International Karate + was the follow up to International Karate. Unlike its predecessor and its rivals, Karate Champ and Way of the Exploding Fist, rounds were no longer decided by single hits. This was a three man battle to score 6 hits within the time limit. Also, Steven Seagal had another go at copyrighting Karate.
The extra computer controlled character really upped the pace of IK+,add to that those fluid controls and a sense of humour as black as the Karateka’s belt.
When not used to ward off the decapitated heads of the vengeful dead, this shield was used for a memorable mini game. You had to react quick and deflect all of these beach balls that your sick old sensai was throwing at you. What an arsehole.
The demented old bastard obviously hurled human heads as well, in some later versions this was censored out, as well as that feature to press the ‘T’ key to make your trousers fall down.
Whatever system you play IK+ on, be it the graphically superior Amiga or Atari ST versions which were later been ported to Playstation and Gameboy Advance, or the humble ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 originals. They’re all rather lovely, like the video game equivalent of a buttered scone on a Sunday afternoon.
It is the Nintendo licensed games by Studio 3 that stick out, but these are no sore thumbs. Nifty little interpretations of the IK+ legend, the first one on the Game Boy Colour made a valiant attempt to compete with the new wave of fighters that had been introduced in the 90′s.
It did so by introducing a health bar leading to faster one on one fights, whilst not updating the classic control system too much. It also introduced a wide selection of cool characters. The first IK game to offer you more than just one angry man in his pyjamas.
This passed over to the Game Boy Advance sequel which was more of a remake of IK+ with that third opponent thrown in. The best character being the yellow jacketed, afro sporting Hotdog because Jim Kelly.
In fact if a game can be recommended just by reasoning “because Jim Kelly” then I really don’t see why we shouldn’t just play the damn thing.
IK+ is available on iPhone, Android or Virtual Console. Alternatively dig up that Spectrum your grandfather buried in the back yard because he thought it was witchcraft.
Then press ‘T’ to make your trousers fall down.