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Karateka is an extremely disappointing game. While the lackluster graphics and audio could have been rescued by great game play, it turns out that the game plays even worse than it looks and sounds!
Okay, so the game is nothing at all like Karateka on any other system. Also, the game has ugly colours and poor animation. As well, it controls with all the finesse of Resident Evil with a busted controller and has added invincibility to the worst enemy in the game. In its defense, it comes in a somewhat attractive box. If you stick with this one long enough to get the timing right on the controls, it is mildly enjoyable to play once in a very long while. However, that's hardly high praise for a game that is supposed to be based after a revolutionary computer game loved by millions. This sort of half effort really hurt the 7800. I mean, having a good, deep action game on the system would have been good for them. Having a terrible port of a very popular computer game just made things worse.
Karateka was once a very popular, one-player karate game back in the early 80's. Kids in my high school used to play it on the Apple II, and the graphics used to astound me. Your warrior has to defeat a series of ninjas before facing the boss and saving the girl. In addition to the kung-fu action, sharp, realistic graphics were a big part of the game's appeal. In this version, the graphics aren't bad, but the animation is jerky as hell and the control is utterly poor. The controller is not responsive at all. Your fighter may or may not react to a button or joystick push you made three seconds before. Karateka was originally designed for keyboard control, and it shows. This implementation of joystick control is ill-conceived and completely counter-intuitive. For example, in order to punch right you need to press the joystick left. Just be glad that I've gone through this torture so you don't have to.