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Karateka Review

Karateka is a modern remake of an 8-Bit game from back in the early days of gaming. With heavy influence of the game designer of the Prince of Persia series, Karateka is highly stylized and it looks great. Liquid Entertainment, known for producing Command & Conquer titles as well as developing a handful of RTS and Action games, has taken the reigns to develop this HD remake. First off, I would like to say I have not played the original Karateka but from what I have seen, the game’s core mechanic stays the same. The version is on 360 and the Steam version was released recently.

The story revolves around the player rescuing Mariko, a princess due to marry the evil Akuma. You must infiltrate his place of residence and defeat anyone who dare opposes you. Yet again, we get more of the simple design of Karateka. It seems games these days try to be simple with stories, but they end up being too predictable and boring. There is not a massive lore behind this game to understand what is going on. There is not a cast of characters so long you need a notebook to keep track. You see the story through illustrated cutscenes that are akin to moving paintings. The visual style of these is brilliant and gorgeous to look at.

 

I did not know what to expect when I saw this game. The art style caught my eye and I saw it was a beat’em up game. Well the only games I have played like that are Watchmen and Afro Samurai. Needless to say, this game is rather original in the combat system and flow. You must fight guard after guard until you defeat the final boss. It is that simple. There aren’t any convoluted skill trees, no level grinding, no item collecting. I love simple games like this because they are so playable and can even keep you playing long after you have beaten it.

 

The keyboard controls are as follows. Punching is “A”, Kicking is “W”, and Blocking is “D”. You move forward by holding the “Q” key and pick up health with “R” or the middle mouse button. What I like about this game’s control scheme is that it can be played 100% on the keyboard. While the controls can seem a bit odd at first, y
ou get used to them quickly. Fights follow a form of turn based system. You must block enemy attacks successfully to gain a turn in attacking. Sometimes enemies will taunt giving you an opening. As you progress through the game you will begin to notice the enemies will use combos more and feint your attacks. This causes you to fight more passively.

The better you fight the more your chi gauge fills. When this is full you press the space bar to block any incoming attack and stun your enemy allowing you to deal large amounts of damage. Careful, some fights can stop and have a cutscene when you do a certain amount of damage resulting in no stun. There is a strange eagle fight mechanic in the game to practice your blocking kills and it is rather challenging. You have to time your block, and then attack accordingly. If the eagle fall more, you have to punch; if the eagle is higher than usual you will have to kick. I have noticed there is a glitch with these fights. Sometimes the eagle will not take any damage close to the end of the game.

 

Minus that one glitch, the game plays well and the pacing is not too bad either. There is a score counter and timer so you can beat your old scores. Karateka is a game unlike any game I have played before. It is fun, and it has a lovely arcade feeling to it. It is skill based so there aren’t any broken mechanics. Despite the short play time (about 30 minutes to beat the game) there is a lot of replay value. I give Karateka on the PC an 8.5/10.

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