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Chuck Norris Superkicks (Xonox)

DoctorSpuds

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Uh… What!?! They made a Chuck Norris game? Wait… Xonox made a Chuck Norris game!?! Well I just gotta play it now… …

… I vastly regret… everything.

So, this game exists. This game was released in 1983, right around the time that ol’ Chuck was gaining mainstream popularity, but he was doing Westerns not Kung Fu flicks (yet), which is what Superkicks would wind up being if it were a film. It’s just a classic case of “we’ve got a license for a celebrity, or other IP let’s just plaster their face or name on a game we already have in development.” The only things about Chuck Norris Superkicks that have Chuck Norris on are is his face horribly plastered onto the box cover, and his name unceremoniously inserted into the title; you can actually see green outlines around his hair that’s how high quality the cut and paste job was. This game was later sold under the name Kung Fu Superkicks by Telegames after the license expired and Xonox went belly-up and would you believe it, on the box they still use Chuck Norris’ face, they didn’t bother to change it, could Chuck Norris have sued them for using his likeness? I don’t think there’d be much of a case since that thing on the box in no way looks like Chunk Norris.

 

Despite all the moaning I’ll be doing in the future the game actually does look okay, the game has seven screens; the main map where you’ll be spending the least amount of your time is quite interesting. It consists of multiple branching pathways for you to walk along, and since the 2600 hates going sideways you’ll be making the trek going up the screen and here’s the kicker, it scrolls along with you, if I were to hazard a guess it’s about ten screens tall, and is dotted with various bits of scenery. The fight screens are fairly boring, they consist of a large brown rectangle, which is supposed to be the path, it suddenly grew enormous, and a bit of scenery at the top of the screen denoting which scene you’re fighting in. Yes, according to the manual each of these fight screens have names and are built up like scenes in a movie, I won’t bother writing them down since that’s just a waste of time, but let’s just say that the scenery in these screens is fairly boring with one exception the monastary. The monastery is the overarching goal of the game and by the time you get there you’ll be tired of looking at the green and brown this game is slathered in, the monastery goes for the daring color palette of grey on grey, with a hint of purple in the wall sconces which is actually a welcome change. I remember saying a while ago that I thought Sir Lancelot was the most simplistic of the Xonox titles, but I think Superkicks has taken its place if only because Sir Lancelot had more to it than green and brown.

 

Sounds are minimal; most of what you’ll be hearing is the ‘CHK-CHK’ of you walking on the map screen, and a strange rustling noise as you’re beset upon by enemies. The fighting screens are mostly silent apart from when you beat an enemy which is a strange bouncy sound, the sound of an enemy throwing a projectile at you, which is a loud scream, and the sound of you getting hit by said projectile which is a mocking ‘Nya-Nya’ jingle like the kids do. If you successfully beat a fight screen you’ll be gifted with seven notes from ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ and when you make it to the next fork in the path you’ll be given several more. That’s about all there is, I’ve probably missed a sound or two but that just means they weren’t worth talking about in the first place.

 

The gameplay is the definition of mundane and frustrating as this is a fighting game with hit detection that is highly biased against the player. I would almost classify the game as a puzzle game with how it approaches fighting enemies; since you have to hit the enemies with a specific attack to incapacitate them otherwise they’ll knock you flat on your ass, literally. Some enemies need to be hit by an upward punch or a downward kick, and later on you can use the super somersault kick to get rid of any enemy, but at the expense of you being able to block projectiles. It is very difficult to actually tell how an enemy needs to be taken down, the manual says that you can tell by the enemy’s arm movements but as far as I can see the sprites look exactly the same so it’s just a guessing game. Now this is where my biggest problem with the game comes into effect, we’ve all played Karate at one point or another, and we all know how awful it is to use the joystick to both move and attack, now take all the gameplay from Karate and shrink it down and put it into Superkicks and you’ve got how it feels to fight. The game plays like Karate, and while in Karate I can get past this flaw because your opponent moves just as slowly and as crippled as you are, in Superkicks the enemies seem to be playing a whole other game. Enemies only have to make contact with you to knock you down while you have to execute a complicated series of controller movements just to miss your hit because the game feels the need to play an animation of you punching or kicking, freezing you in place as the enemy walks into you for the eighth time, and don’t even get me started on the throwing knives! Occasionally an enemy will throw a projectile at you, usually their aim is way off but they have a habit of throwing one at you as you are walking directly towards them or are a few pixels away setting up for your punch, or have just been knocked down again, and in the later screens where there are three enemies at once you can guarantee that your blood will be boiling. The final thing that irks me immensely is the time limit that completely ruins the game for me, you start with six minutes and the time is slightly replenished after you make it to another fork in the path, if you stray off the path or even put a foot in the grass you’ll lose a bunch of time as it suddenly drains faster than a wallet at a casino. Being knocked down in the fight screens wastes time as you spend your sweet time getting back up again and getting hit by a projectile will jettison you from the fight screen and take 20 seconds off for good measure. Once you get to the monastery you get to spend the rest of your time fighting the enemies there until the time runs out and then the game is over, there is no looping around and starting again like in Robin Hood or Sir Lancelot, it just ends unceremoniously and that’s it, it couldn’t even go the Ghost Manor route of playing a cutscene and some music, it just ends, you vanish off the screen and have to turn the console off and on again to try again.

 

This game annoys me because I can see what they were going at, I can see the game this was meant to be but they fells so short that the game winds up being an unpleasant mess that makes me slightly absolutely livid. I would recommend against actually buying this game, but unfortunately Xonox has a workaround to that. Since it is most commonly found on Double Enders that means Superkicks is surgically attached to another (probably better) game. It was released as a standalone cartridge (which is the one I have); it was also bundled with Spike’s Peak (That makes me shudder), Ghost Manor, and Artillery Duel. The Superkicks/Artillery Duel Double Ender is the most common of the bunch with prices as low as 15 bucks for a loose cart, and I haven’t found pricing info for the Ghost Manor or Spike’s Peak carts which are a bit rarer. I got my Single Ender for about 20 dollars, which seems to be a good deal since somebody paid over $75 bucks for one back in December. No matter which cartridge form it takes, I condemn Chuck Norris Superkicks to the depths of the Collector’s Zone for being Karate, but worse.

 



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Oddly enough, out of the four known formats (Atari 2600, Colecovision, VIC-20, C64) where you can enjoy Chuck Norris' Superkicks, it seems the 2600 is by far the highest rated. On the other three it is more or less pure garbage but e.g. the French magazine Tilt already in 1984 awarded it 6/6 on gameplay, 6/6 on graphics and 4/6 on sound effects which was slightly better than the Artillery Duel they co-reviewed.

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The game is still awful to play, I've tested it with every controller I own and it's only marginally playable with the Amiga Powerstick and the Genesis controller, with everything else it feels like I'm gonna break the controller.

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Interesting. This review makes me want to try this game again. I played this game for the first time several weeks ago. I got to the point where I felt like I was getting the hang of it, but ran short of time. I made a mental note to give it another try someday. Now I wonder if my notion that there really is a glimmer of fun in there or if it's just me.

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