Don't Let This Title Screen Fool Ya! This Game Isn't Very Flashy
Tough challenge/ Game can be beaten
These controls put the SLUG in sluggish/ Stripped Down Version
Put Up Your Dukes, Sparkplug!
Overview: This was the first game I ever played on the Atari 7800, and needless to say I was blown away! Of course, I was 12 and a late bloomer. I think at that point in my life, my favorite memory was a family vacation to a sh*tty beach with no girls on it but plenty of broken glass. So yeah... this was pre-Funkmaster V style living. Karateka... pronounced "Carrie-teek-a" (because lame) was a game that I cautiously praised on my old site, but now the gloves are coming off.
Looking back to 1986 now, I wonder if this game's biggest sin wasn't just being a terrible port of a computer game, but could it be partially to blame for the Prosystem faltering launch? The two year delay in the system launch is ultimately to blame... but when Atari-heads were considering which system to purchase, the 7800 or the NES, this Carey-Tee-Kah was the only butch game popping out from a sea of more than familiar classic arcade 7800 ports that competed with the shiny-new Super Mario Brothers. Spoiler alert: it failed badly.
Graphics: The main gist of this game is one on one combat. So it would be important for the fighters to look good. And, considering the time this game came out, its not great. On the bright side, the karate moves look like real karate attacks, but they are so slow its impossible to take the look of this game seriously. Though these guys are not very detailed (i.e.: the characters do not even have faces) they come complete with karate garb and bad guys have big fancy hats to make them look more sinister. The backgrounds are pretty good. Whether you are breaking into the compound or deep within the castle's guts, Mount Fuji can bee seen in the distance. The brightest spot visually comes from the forlorn, imprisoned damsel in distress as she nervously paces in her prison. She actually looks feminine and moves with grace in her cutscenes. These girlie graphics are a big step up from Beat 'Em and Eat 'Em!
Sound: Audio is very shy in this game. There is a terrible noise that might be music during the rolling of the opening story. Other than that, sound effects are limited to thuds that happen when contact is made with a strike. That's it! There is an interlude after the first opponent is defeated, and uses two different musical scores that are fitting. One is the bad guy, Akuma's theme. This plays as he waits for your arrival. And the other is the princess's theme. This is played when she mopes across the screen in her prison cell. I gotta admit, when I was a kid, I thought these were really cool.
Gameplay: A man breaks into a Japanese compound to rescue a hot, 8 bit chick with silver hair. 6 Karate-Manz stand in his way, but are polite enough to fight him one at a time. Can you rescue the love of your life? No. The game is too cheap. But you can try, flyboy. The controls in this game are just horrible, but they make up for it by being awkward. In fact, the controls are so bad, that they might actually make this game enjoyable to play for retro gamers, because there's nothing out there that plays like this. You don't even use buttons to attack, you point your joystick in directions. You do have 6 different attacks, but they are so slow, this game looks more like a Tai Chi kata than a life or death fight. Buttons are used to stand up, making you susceptible to one punch kills... so that's a stupid button to have, or to move slowly with your legs spread very far apart. Funkmaster V would kick all 6 of these guys in the dinker and get the hell out of there with my womanz in 4 minutes... but this jabrone has too much honor for that.
Interpretation: The computer game this is based on is no prize, but its still much more fun than this... and the Atari 7800 version came out 2 years later. Keep in mind, Super Mario Brothers and Metroid were on the shelves when this came out. The Akuma in the computer version looks totally badass, and the fighting is rolling at a faster clip. Audio still sucks, but you gotta love that in the computer version if you approach the princess in combat mode instead of running mode, she will one shot kick you in the nuts and you will die. See? Women know how to get the job done.
Value: Of all of the beatable games in the 7800 library, I would rank this the second toughest to beat behind Scrapyard Dog. For this alone, gamers may grab this one up at a cheap price to try to figure out how to beat it. And as bad as this game is, if you beat it... that's a helluva accomplishment.
Overall: Nope. I don't like it. It's playable, but its slow. TOO..... EFFING.... SLOW. It feels like your control input is almost a full second delayed from your sweaty little fingers to the guy's beleaguered kicks and punches. Fuggedaboutit. The 7800 doesn't have very many fighting games worth a crap, but to be honest, not many fightin' games this era are still fun if you take nostalgia out of it. It will take a very special young man to defeat Akuma, do you have what it takes to be a Karry-Tea-Kah? You do? I really don't care. I just didn't know how else to end this review.
JoseQ's Emuviews: 7.3 out of 10
CV's Atari 7800 Panoramic Froo-Froo: 3.0 out of 5.0 (Fair)
Video Game Critic: F
Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Mitch Orman, owner of The Atari 7800 Page for allowing the use of his
screenshots for this review.