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Karate (Ultravision)

Posted by DoctorSpuds, 07 November 2018 · 84 views

Karate (Ultravision)

This game seems to be rather polarizing in the community, mainly since it’s the only game I have been actively told to avoid reviewing at all costs, but mankind never got anywhere by playing it safe. So… for your delectation I present to you Karate by Ultravision. Unlike its brother game Condor Attack, Karate actually had an accessible and affordable re-release in the form of Froggo, and the inevitable Taiwan Cooper bootleg. I decided to get the Taiwan Cooper version for one deciding reason, and that would be the box art, I may not be an artist but I do know magic marker and colored pencils when I see them, it looks like it was drawn by a middle schooler, that may be an insult because I knew plenty of people in middle school who could draw far better than that. As is indeed customary at this point I must transcribe the blurb on the back of the box, and in this case the scoring info as well, simply because whoever printed these didn’t know English too good.
 
 
 
 

Karate

Game Description:                                                                                                                                                                                         
Karate is Chinese tranditional fighting and
 defending skill and feat. Every action in
 Karate is the beautiful combination of power
 and art. Now, you can enjoy yourself in
this Orient Great Art – Karate. The game
 5 screens. Every screen takes 2 minutes.
 The belt of the winer will be changed step by
 step, from the white to the black.
 
Scoring:                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Beating head by arms:                  10 points
Beating Breast by arms:                10 points
Beating head by feet:                    20 points
Beating breast by feet:                  15 points
Skillful beating down:                    60 points
 
Sorts:                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
1 game, 2 players.
 
Absolute joy…
 
People don’t like how this game looks; I’ve had it described to me as “dancing diaper stickmen” which is by far my favorite description so far. I’ll admit that the size of the fighters is impressive, as well as the fact that they’re animated not altogether horribly a decent bonus, sure their legs may go multi-jointed once in a while. Simply put, giant half-screen sized fluidly animated (by 2600 standards) characters, stickmen or not, are an impressive feat. This is an amazing jump in quality especially when you compare it to Condor Attack, a game so insecure about actually playing itself that the screen actually rolls whenever you start the game, or die for that matter. Simply that the game doesn’t collapse in on itself is a miracle. You may think I’m being lenient on this game, but I’m not, I actually think it looks pretty good, especially by Ultravision standards (which were very, very low).
 
This game pretty much has two sounds, the sound of the crowd cheering at the start of the game, and the sound of your two meatbags punching the stuffing out of each other; they work well in the context of the game, that’s all I’ll say.
 
Gameplay, this is the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Karate is one of the first one-on-one fighting games, and it definitely feels like it. Controls are fairly standard when it comes to a game of this type with a controller of this type. By holding the joystick in any of the cardinal directions and holding the button you’ll perform one of four attacks, a high kick or a low kick, and a high punch or a low punch, everything’s gotta be above the belt in Karate. The one thing that snips everyone’s goiter though is the awful collision detection, which is indeed very awful, if you’re lucky one in four attacks will actually hit your opponent, while they  will only miss maybe half of their shots. I have found a dominant strategy though, if you simply position yourself slightly below your opponent and hold left and the action button to perform the high kick your opponent will be unable to hit you with any attack and you will constantly hit him in the head with your foot, the highest scoring attack, meaning you will beat him by at least 500 points every round sometimes up to 700 points if you have luck on your side. But this was meant to be a two player game, everybody who’s played this game has played it one player, I’m pretty sure that if you and a friend play this you’ll find it to be a hilarious and fun experience (I’ll post an update if I can get a player two).
 
Overall this is an amazing train wreck of a game, but only because of the shitty collision detection, the rest of the game has been made rather competently. Would I recommend that you go out there and buy a copy? Yeah I would, if you have a second player handy and plenty of booze you’ll probably have a great time. I would recommend buying either the Froggo or the Taiwan Cooper releases, since the original Ultravision copies go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars these days. The Froggo release will set you back maybe 10$ for a loose cart, boxed copies are a bit too expensive at the moment, and the price fluctuates quite a bit on the Taiwan Cooper version but the copy I have I got for 10$ including shipping CIB, so if you find one it may be a better value than the Froggo version.
 
 
 
 
 
 






I truly love reading your reviews, but wow... Karate gets a purchase recommendation, while Laser Gates does not?  Having a hard time wrapping my head around that! :-)

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I truly love reading your reviews, but wow... Karate gets a purchase recommendation, while Laser Gates does not?  Having a hard time wrapping my head around that! :-)

 

Well... It may seem strange but I can find more entertainment value from a crappy game like Karate than from a game that I find to be middle of the road like Laser Gates. I also enjoy playing notorious stinkers like Sea Hunt, Sorcerer and Fire Fly, Open Sesame/I Want My Mommy, and even Sssnake. I guess I just have unconventional tastes, but they can offer some form of entertainment value, games that I think are middle of the road, not too great and not too bad simply don't hold my interest like the crappy games do. Games like Laser Gates and even today's review No Escape, to an extent fall, into this category, I guess that's why it took me so long to review an Activision game, almost all of them just fall into the middle of the road, they're fun to play but they're not what comes to my mind when I think 'Atari'.

 

If you were to offer me a choice between playing Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-man, Junior Pac-Man, or Pac-Man 4K, I'll choose the original every time.

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Thanks for that explanation! I can kind of see where you're coming from.  Perhaps similar to someone who prefers an utterly terrible B-movie to a competently made but mostly unmemorable film.  Me, I get a kick out of Laser Gates every time I play it, while Karate is just painful in every way, but looking at it through that lens, I can see where someone with less conventional tastes might see it the other way.  (Heh, funny to think of myself who prefers Atari games to anything modern as having anything like 'conventional' tastes, but for me Activision games are the absolute heights of VCS gaming.) 

 

Again, thanks for clarifying, and thanks for these entertaining reviews!  It's good a get a different perspective on these mostly forgotten games!

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