Foreword: a few weeks ago a good friend of mine pointed me toward a fairly new Italian website, called RetroMagazine. As the title implies, the author aimed to write a retro magazine (Italian only, for the time being) mainly focused on the 8bit era. As you know, I did post a few articles already about such blessed period, so I went and took a look at the mag. RetroMagazine started with only a few pages, but it is now a mature product that holds loads and loads of useful contents. I so decided to get in touch with Francesco Fiorentini to start a partnership with AmigaGuru, hoping that something else could soon follow on (Bitplane, anyone?). The following article appeared on Issue num.1 of the magazine (October 2017) and it is here reproduced with permission. Enjoy the read!
Ladies and gentlemen, hats off! International Karate Plus, IK+ for the friends, it’s an absolute masterpiece. It is the typical game that never disappoints you. Every once in a while, year after year, I get back to it for a quick match and every time it does impress me for the way it has been coded. Let’s take a close look at it to discover why. The game concept in itself is rather simplistic: 3 martial artists challenge each other in a duel based on kicks, punches, sweeps and the likes.
Depending on precision and strenght of the move we will be awarded 1 or 2 points. The first player reaching 6 point wins the match and access the new level (together with the second one) while the third one is forced to undergo additional heavy traning by Master Kawasaki-san (a clearly invented name). If you happen to be such player, you will be kicked out from the tournament and you’ll have to start over from the White Belt. Every few levels you will enter a minigame, where using a shield you have to deflect objects thrown at you (boing balls, bombs and … human heads) for additional score.
Like in real life, and following the best Karate tradition, your progress will be measured upon reaching different levels (colored belts): yellow, green, purple and brown all the way up to a well deserved Black Belt. Even after all these years the software impresses for its running speed, pixel-perfect collisions and superd smoothness: an erratic positioning on the field can make the difference between victory and failure, resulting in a blank stroke and the subsequent opponent response.
IK+ is obviously the sequel for International Karate, with which it shares part of the gameplay. Unlike the original game, though, the game here sports a third opponent, a details wich may seem irrelevant but that actually makes all the difference in the World. If you think back to the ’80s, you’ll remember that in most game of the period you could try to land a few good blows and then keep your distance until the time run out: IK+ is a totally different beast! Even without taking any damage you can still be eliminated from the current match if the opponents used a very aggressive posture, resulting in a good score farming. Such a mechanics costantly forces you to take and keep the lead, in order to progress in the game.
So, having verified that playability was (and still is) over the top, what about the graphics and sound compartments? Speaking about the Amiga version we can safely say that the game didn’t use much of its superior qualities: even though really pleasant looking, it only sports a single background. As far as the sound goes, we are here dealing with a superb soundtrack that I keep listening to, to the point that I sometimes fire up the game only to listen to the tracks.
Despite the single backdrop, IK+ is still a must-play, and if you closely look at it you’ll find out that the coder did have fun by inserting “hidden features”: did you notice Pacman. And the spider? And the submarine?
Have fun with IK+: it’s a blast!
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(Text by Francesco, translation by g0blin, box shot by ToAks)