#71 Kung-Fu Master

Posted: 26th August 2013 by Jeroen in Games
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265th played so far


Genre: Fighting
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1984
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Irem

Some games are games where I really have no proper justification why we played them. They’re on the list, they’re a genre we need, but they’re not a big name and we’re hard-pressed to see why it’s so special. It’s just a spur of the moment thing, something to try that looks okay.

Why, then, is it on the list? It’s quite simple, really. It’s credited with being the first side-scrolling beat em up. Yeah, this spawned Double Dragon 2, which I spend so much time on. It led to Viewtiful Joe, which we loved earlier. Perhaps even the later 3D variants, such as Bayonetta.

Our Thoughts

This is hard! Undoubtably intended to make sure this game ate as many coins as possible, your enemies swarm you and leech life at a dramatic speed, making progress difficult. We persevered to give you some sort of opinion though, and I’m happy to report Peter at least managed to beat the first level. But still, it is that difficult.

 The game’s pretty simple – walk left, right, jump, crouch, punch, kick. You fight your way through enemies, with a boss at the end, to get to the stairs at the end, making it up five floors to get your girlfriend. And those enemies are constant. They stream in from both sides, you have to try to switch on time between the two, only when they’re in range, and it is quite difficult to get it completely right.

The challenge, then, mostly becomes a matter of reflexes. Can you respond on time and make it through? Only a lot of practice seems to be able to get you. It feels a bit unpolished and at times unforgiving or off in its timing, not giving as much slack as you sometimes get otherwise. And if you are a bit too early, the enemies tend to latch on or hurt you before you have a chance to try again.

Sure, it’s part of the game. It’s just a bit frustrating at times and made the game best for us to consume in short bursts.

What is cool about this game is how the later levels play out. In the first level the knife throwers and eventual floor boss are bad enough… but then you have to deal with dragons and crazy-ass moths. Seeing how this was meant as a tie-in game to the Jackie Chan movie Wheels on Meals I am not sure where killer moths comes into it, but I will be watching this film to make sure.

Audio and video have little special to mention. The characters are nicely distinct, but give few hints on what they actually do until you’ve memorised them.

Final Thoughts

If this was a later game, we’d probably deride it for not offering much – the movesets are limited and gameplay is unforgiving without much of a pay-off. As a first, however, it’s a nice landmark and been interesting to give a try.