Karate Champ is a martial arts fighting game that is considered as inspiring modern day skill based tournament style fighting games. Karate Champ was originally released as an arcade cabinet in 1984 before being ported to home consoles including Apple II and Commodore 64 in 1985 and the NES in 1986. Can Karate Champ’s My Arcade Micro Player capture the gameplay of the original Karate Champ, albeit within a portable arcade cabinet?
Karate Champ’s My Arcade Micro Player is a port of the NES version rather than the original arcade cabinet, but that is not a bad thing as it retains the core gameplay. Karate Champ’s gameplay revolves around a knockout style tournament were the player has to defeat their opponent by knockout or landing the most punches or kicks within the time limit of each round during the fight comprising of up to five segments per round with three rounds having a duration of up to 30 seconds per round before progressing onto a new environment and increasingly tougher opponents. Gameplay also challenges the player to score as many points as possible through defeating opposing fighters, alongside a mini-game of having objects thrown at your fighter as the player must crouch or jump to avoid them for as long as possible to score bonus points.
Karate Champ’s My Arcade cabinet has extremely well implemented responsive controls including throwing punches by pressing A or B without using any directional movement; performing multiple variations of kicks by pressing B when using the joystick or d-pad to position the kick to hit a different area of your opponent; pressing start to begin gameplay from the main menu or pause during gameplay; pressing reset returns to the main menu; and moving your character forwards or backwards using the joystick or d-pad. The joystick comfortably sits above the centre of the d-pad, but can easily be gently unscrewed by hand to utilise the d-pad instead with the joystick also being simple to reattach by hand.
Graphically, Karate Champ retains the charming graphics from its original retro release on NES in 1986; presented on a screen of around 2.5 inches or so in size with colours vibrantly popping, while the character animations for both competing fighters are really good as they perform varying techniques of punches and kicks.
Karate Champ’s presentation is amazing as the display box and arcade cabinet both contains artwork inspired by the original Karate Champ arcade cabinet complete with artwork showing the opposing fighter, game logo and Data East logo, while a further nice touch is a sticker covering the screen that clearly depicts the anticipated graphics and gameplay. Karate Champ’s box contains the excellently constructed 6.75 inches tall arcade cabinet accompanied by respectable internal packaging to keep everything stable when in the packaging and a manual supporting a multitude of languages. The arcade cabinet can be powered by a 5 volts micro USB cable plug that is situated towards the bottom on the back or for genuine portability; four AA batteries, although the micro USB lead or plug and batteries are not included.
Karate Champ’s audio is actually pretty good with catchy retro arcade styled music, while sound effects occur when performing kicks. Karate Champ’s arcade machine also features volume control allowing the player to increase or reduce the volume, while a 3.5mm headphone jack simultaneously provides greater immersion and portability.
Karate Champ’s value is especially significant to fans of Karate Champ and arcade cabinets, alongside taking pride of place on display in a gaming room as the artwork for the arcade cabinet and its outer packaging is superb. Meanwhile, Karate Champ’s replayability is also of a high quality due to the player attempting to learn and utilise more fighting moves to progress further in the quantity of consecutive bouts. When factoring in the price point of only $34.99 in American regions or around £25 to £35 in the UK for a portable arcade cabinet of a hugely respected retro fighting game is quite fair.
• Title: Karate Champ My Arcade Micro Player
• Game Developer: Data East/G-Mode
• Arcade Cabinet Manufacturer: My Arcade/DreamGear
• Publisher: MyArcade/DreamGear
• Players: 1