Our Nostalgic Games: Karate Champ

Magazine/Site: Famitsu
Date: 10/11/2018

Our Nostalgic Games ~Retro Gamer Round-table~ #200

Editors passionately discussing games playable on modern hardware that are just as good as they’ve ever been!

Arcade Archives (PS4) – Karate Champ

An action-game from Data East. With controls that combined the use of two separate joysticks, you can perform all sorts of different karate techniques. Undergo training and fight to win.

Original Release Year: 1984

Hardware: Arcade

Date of Digital Release: 10/09/2014

Maker: Hamster

This Week’s Participants

MCU: An MCU for Kick the Can Crew who played this game in an oden restaurant back in the day. His skill level is quite high.
Fujita: A gaming celebrity who first played this game with the Arcade Archives release. His skill level is considerable in just about any game.
Fujinocchi: A Famitsu editor that played this game in a stationary shop back in the day. He uses tactics that allow him to aim for a high score.

We’ve Invited Some Big Guests For This Karate Champ Tournament

Starting With Memories From Back Then

(Fujinocchi) The 200th edition of Our Nostalgic Games is Karate Champ!

(MCU) How appropriate (Laughs)

(Fujita) I think it’s a perfect choice.

(Fujinocchi) I think we’ve all been playing this game since the original arcade version, but I have no memories of playing it in an actual arcade.

(Fujita) Neither do I.

(MCU) I didn’t play it in an arcade either. There were 6 arcade cabinets lined up outside of a local oden restaurant, and one of them was Karate Champ.

(Fujinocchi) I had a similar experience, but for me it was outside of a stationary shop.

(Fujita) To think that Karate Champ was that widely distributed.

(Fujinocchi) I saw it a lot in shopping districts and such too.

(MCU) The one that I played was in one of those cabinets where you pulled down the black curtain in back of you and played underneath it, to block out the glare from the sun.

(Fujinocchi) I used cardboard for that.

(MCU) Cardboard style (Laughs)

(Fujita) I didn’t play it back in the day. I heard from MCU when he came over one time that it was out on Arcade Archives. I bought it, and we played it right there on the spot. That was my first time playing it.

(Fujinocchi) I see, that late. You think of arcades as places that you can see other people play too, right? Everyone’s style is a little bit different, but I got 2000 points off of 2 rear strikes right away.

(MCU) That’s pretty great.

(Fujita) Even though you scored that highly, I bet you definitely didn’t beat the bull.

(Fujinocchi) Right. Seeing the “Get the bull!” message come up always got me in any situation (Laughs)

(Fujita) You can use save states on Arcade Archives games, and I was able to beat the bull like 1 time out of 30.

(MCU) I can do it 4 times out of 5.

(Fujita) 4 times out of 5!?

(Fujinocchi) That’s amazing!

(MCU) I beat it just a little while ago, in fact. But I have to use some pretty cheap techniques to do it (Laughs)

(Fujinocchi) Alright then, let’s talk some more as we play the game.

The Explanations Continue While Playing

(Fujinocchi) Ahh, this part is hard.

(MCU) Oh, this part huh?

(Fujinocchi) This move test part is on both the hard and easy versions, right?

(MCU) Back in the day I didn’t realize that you could do things this way in a game. It’s like a mini tutorial.

(Fujita) Yeah, because there aren’t any instruction manuals in arcades.

(MCU) Just those little instruction cards on the cabinets. That’s definitely what this is.

(Fujinocchi) A reverse kick out of a forward somersault…Like a practitioner of karate would do a somersault in the first place!

(MCU) It’s like something out of a manga.

(Fujita) It definitely looks pretty stiff.

(MCU) Yeah. That’s why this game isn’t really any fun to just watch someone play.

(Fujinocchi) But if you’re just watching, you can always try to pick who’s going to win and advance to the next round.

(MCU) But taking that first step with the PlayStation 4 controller is a bit tricky to do, so that makes things a little bit more difficult.

(Fujita) That’s definitely true.

(Fujinocchi) My signature move is either a flying reverse kick or reverse roundhouse kick out of a somersault.

(Fujita) And then the beer bottle comes flying in (Laughs)

(Fujinocchi) Where on earth is there a dojo that beer bottles would come flying in, anyway? (Laughs)

(MCU) That would definitely be problematic (Laughs)

The Conversation Keeps On Going

(Fujita) What was the first game to use this kind of a control scheme?

(MCU) You mean the first arcade game that controlled with two joysticks?

(Fujinocchi) Crazy Climber might have come before this.

Crazy Climber Famicom Attachment
The Crazy Climber Famicom controller attachment. Picture courtesy of this thread at the famicomworld.com forums

(MCU) The Famicom version had that special attachment…

(Fujinocchi) I did have an attachment!

(Fujita) It definitely did.

(Fujinocchi) That game’s out on Arcade Archives too.

(MCU) Then there’s this part where you have to break the roof tiles on the bricks.

(Fujinocchi) MCU, you can get the timing on this jump on your first try. I always get it on the second try. Though it may just be me acting superstitiously at this point.

(Fujita) Is this game all about timing? Or maybe it’s all about the importance of choosing your moves…?

MCU’s Pattern For Certain Victory

(MCU) Choosing your moves is important, but I think it’s probably all about timing.

(Fujinocchi) Next we’ll have Fujita demonstrate his pattern.

(Fujita) I don’t really have one (Laughs) The other day MCU was telling me about patterns as I was playing. Will you tell me again?

(MCU) Hmm? Well, there’s the somersault into the reverse kick.

(Fujita) How do you do the somersault?

(MCU) Like this: You move the left stick up, and the right stick down.

(Fujita) I see. And after the somersault…how do you do the reverse kick?

(MCU) You move the right stick left.

(Fujita) Alright, I’ll work on it then.

(MCU) The point at which you do the somersault is really important too.

(Fujinocchi) Right, it’s best to do after you’ve moved forward a little bit.

(Fujita) I did it!

(Fujinocchi) And from there, just do a reverse kick.

(Fujita) I messed up. I’ll try it again…I came out of it a little too early.

(MCU) In that case, all you can do is go with a forward kick.

(Fujita) I did it! It feels really good to pull off these moves.

(Fujinocchi) Now you just need to practice a bit more, and establish your own unique style.

“Get The Bull!”

Karate Champ - saa ushi da
The famous “saa ushi da!” that’s displayed before the bull comes out for you to fight in Karate Champ. In the English version it’s “Get the bull!”

(Fujinocchi) Now what we’ve all been waiting for: The bull.

(MCU) Here it is.

(Fujita) You said that you can get it 4 out of 5 times.

(Fujinocchi) Amazing! You really are amazing!

(MCU) The pattern to beat the bull is a flying back kick into a back kick.

(Fujita) Another back kick?

(MCU) Yeah, it all comes down to the back kick in the end. For me anyway (Laughs)

(Fujinocchi) The back kick is the strongest move!

(MCU) You can change directions on the spot, but this move is the easiest one to get the timing right on.

The Road To A High Score?

(Fujinocchi) At the time, all there really was to do was compete for high scores. When someone beat your own score by a little bit, it ultimately reflected in your own new high score. Even though I was only competing for the top spot on a machine outside of a stationary shop, it was really frantic (Laughs)

(Fujita) Your score is different depending on what moves you use, right?

(Fujinocchi) My pattern is take 3 steps forward, and do a rear strike for 1000 points. It’s powerful and gives a lot of points. The time limit in the qualifying round has nothing to do with score.

(Fujita) So you use that time to build up score?

(Fujinocchi) Your remaining time in the real matches translate into score.

(Fujita) How many points does it take for a score to be considered good?

(MCU) I wonder how many… I was very particular about the “dan” ranking I was at. At my best I could get up to about 8th or 9th, I think.

(Fujinocchi) The opponents suddenly get a lot stronger from 8th dan on.

(MCU) The speed that they start moving at is crazy.

(Fujinocchi) And it’s like they’re able to predict your movements, and block them. They attack with flying kicks in the middle of your somersaults.

Making Good Use Of Save States

(Fujinocchi) And we’re finally at 8th dan. The movement is totally different now, like a whole different person.

(MCU) Well it is a whole different person (Laughs)

(Fujita) Is 9th dan the last one?

(MCU) There are more above that.

(Fujita) How many dan rankings are there actually?

(Fujinocchi) I looked it up online just now, and it seems it goes up to “Expert” (“Meijin”) rank.

(Fujita) The Arcade Archives series allows you to use save states. So if you save as you’re progressing through the game, I think we might be able to see the opponent at Expert rank.

(Fujinocchi) Let’s do that!

(MCU) So save after every full point (“ippon” in Karate) ?

(Fujita) I think you should save after every half point (“waza ari” in Karate). That way you’ll always have the advantage.

(Fujinocchi) And now that we’ve beaten 10th dan…

(Everyone) Here comes the Expert!