Kung Fu

Kung Fu - NES
Kung Fu, October 1985, Nintendo

Kung Fu

Where can you find a game loosely related to Jackie Chan, All Japan Pro Wrestling, every major Neo Geo fighting game, freaky oriental threesomes, and Tiny “Zeus” Lister? Grab your dogi, throw on your favorite slippers, and strap yourselves in because we’re in for a wild ride today Nintendo lovers! Who’s ready for some good old fashioned Kung Fu?

Kung Fu - NES
I’m a sucker for digitized dragons. Game B is just a fraction tougher than A.

Originally released in the arcades as Kung Fu Master, this was one wildly popular game. If you were alive, had a spare quarter, and were able to hold a joystick in the early 80s, you played Kung Fu. Everyone of age who experienced the thrill of kicking three baddies in a row hauling ass towards you never forgot it. The things about this game we DIDN’T know are easily just as interesting to say the least.

Kung Fu - NES
Jackie Chan didn’t hit it big here until 1995’s Rumble In The Bronx but we had unknowingly played a game for years that featured him in it and noone knew!

Launched in Japan as Spartan X, Kung Fu was actually based on the 1984 Jackie Chan film of the same name. Martial arts legend Chan played Thomas, the protagonist of the movie and game, who is attempting to save his girlfriend Sylvia from the most generically named baddie ever, Mr. X. The movie was released here in the U.S. as Wheels On Meals. No, that isn’t a typo, they actually thought that title was going to bring movie-goers out in droves. What the goatfuck you ask? Get this, the last two films the Golden Harvest studio shat out were named Megaforce and Menage A Trois. The executives got the oogy boogies about their next venture starting with the letter M, so Meals On Wheels got flipped on its ass and became Wheels On Meals instead. I couldn’t make this insipid shit up if I tried.

Kung Fu - NES
RIP Mitsuharu Misawa 6/18/62 – 6/13/09. Never forgotten.

Excuse me a moment for an out of character pause. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the main theme for Spartan X was used as the entrance music for Mitsuharu Misawa, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of any era who tragically passed away in the middle of the ring in June 2009. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and a true ambassador to the sport. Rest in peace Emerald Warrior. I miss you.

Kung Fu - NES
Tell me this screenshot doesn’t make you just want to pop this fucker in

Beat ’em ups seemed to be released every week in the late 80s/early 90s with some legendary titles like Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Streets Of Rage, and Final Fight at the forefront. These and every game like it owe everything they are to Kung Fu. The first of it’s kind, they made it count (unlike Dk Jr Math) and it spawned more games that ate quarters than can be mentioned in one review. The lead programmer, Takashi Nishiyama, went on to Capcom where he was the head of a little game named Street Fighter. He could’ve been quite content with his legacy left at that but the guy went on to even greater heights when he was hired by SNK and designed a cutting edge contraption called the Neo-Geo System Board. This mad professor of gaming could’ve stopped THERE but what did this under-appreciated genius do as an encore? He created every major SNK fighting IP as he went along. Yes, the head programmer on Kung Fu is responsible for all-time heavyweights Fatal Fury, Art Of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, & the epic King Of Fighters franchises. Quite the fucking résumé no?

Kung Fu - NES
“What you got on my 40 homie?”

Onto the game itself, this is definitely one of the better Black Box games. By today’s standards, it would seem pedestrian but if you look at it in the same vein you’d hear a garage band’s first album before they refined their sound, there isn’t alot to complain about. You play as Thomas, going from floor to floor kicking and punching your way to the level boss. The true innovation here was that no two bosses were the same, a feat even Mario didn’t pull off. They aren’t just lazy palette swaps either as one throws a boomerang, another resembles Deebo from Friday, and Mr. X himself looks like Deadpool unmasked to reveal an 8-bit Owen Wilson. Even more awesome is the way they will laugh in your face if you grind through the level only to be defeated at the end. Oh, will it ever piss you off proper until you have the sweet joy of handing them their ass. In my opinion, alot of games today are missing that type of motivation to move ahead. Could be just me, but I’ll lose sleep to beat you if you laugh at me for failure digitized or not.

Kung Fu - NES
“Hmm, then again, I’ve been trying to dump her for a month now…”

Some may cavetch the game is too short but it’s in the vein of quite a bit of the older NES games in that when you see the ending, it’ll just throw you back onto level 1, ramping up the difficulty until you can’t handle it anymore. Sure, it’s possible to save the girl within a day of first playing but try to save her 5 times and watch controllers explode through windows. There is only one music track as you plow through the level but it is note for note faithful to the arcade version and doesn’t distract from the hectic action. Only negative I can think of is the unevenness of the challenge. Stage 2 is twice as hard as any of the other levels. If you can survive the falling snakes that take a third of your life and disco balls that explode into a 5 way spread shot the 2nd floor offers, this game is your bitch.

Kung Fu - NES
The, um, intimidating Mr. X

THE FINAL VERDICT


8/10 All beat ’em ups should look up at Kung Fu as their granddaddy and shower it with the respect it deserves. Hell of a challenge (bite me stage 2), original bosses, and a fun factor that forces you to get that much further each time you play. There was a sequel released only in Japan as Spartan X 2, but it didn’t capture very much of what made the original so special. One measure of a game to me is the ability to pick it up and play it without having to memorize a moveset, read a long-winded manual, or spend hours learning the controls a la Clu Clu Land. You moved forward and fucked shit up until the stairs, climbed up, and commenced to fucking more shit up, which sometimes, is all the good dumb fun you need. After all, it’s meant to be a game, not a college course, and this one hit the new concept it brought out of the park.

Kung Fu - NES
Only disappointment follows this here title screen.
This one was for one of the coolest cats I’ve ever had the honor of working with. Good luck in your upcoming future endeavors Chivo!

Spartan X2

Spartan X2 - famicom

Spartan is one of the games we were sad to miss. The list of unreleased games in the USA really makes me sick! So many gems we could’ve cherished and remembered as true classic. Nevertheless, we can now import them quite easy so problem solved! Enter Spartan X2 for the Famicom. The game has a huge fun factor but there are some things that stop it from being great. Lets check it out in this week’s pick!

Spartan X2 - famicom

The music is quite good. You can’t get anything better than an 8-bit track that mimics an action packed game! The game has also a very decent sound effects scheme. It’s definitely better in every way of the first game in the series which we know as Kung Fu.

Spartan X2 - famicom

The graphics are quite good. This game is everything an action pack side scroller is supposed to look like. Even the intro has a very awesome background. The game shows it wasn’t rushed!

Amazingly, the gameplay is the same as Kung Fu except with some exceptions mainly due to the scenery. You go inside trains, the streets, and many more places. You have the main kick and punch as in the first game. You can also jump!! Tapping the buttons at the right time is crucial to survive in this game. I’ll be honest, this game may be short (4 levels) but it’s as tough as you can get especially in the final levels. Better start practicing!

Spartan X2 - famicom

The game is so short that playing it over and over can be quite fun although tiring at the same time. There is only so much you can do and the levels are very linear. There is no other way around any of the levels. Just walk from left to right until you reach the boss. In replay value this game suffers but there is always an urge to come back to it for a quick play especially if you know the length of it. Sometimes, games don’t need to be long to be fun.

This is probably not the best game to spend all your cash on but it’s definitely an interesting title as it’s the long forgotten sequel to Kung Fu. If you ever find it for a decent price, pick it up!!

Kung Fu Fight

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

We are always on the lookout for retro style mobile games and we found a winner with Kung Fu Fight. Created by Nostatic Software this mobile game combines the classic style of gameplay in controls, action and difficulty.

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

You are a farm boy who has to rescue the kidnapped girl and you do this by running, sliding, jumping and fighting your way through increasingly difficult levels. I am not kidding here, even on the normal setting it gets hard, Ninja Gadien hard.

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

The controls are simple enough. Your character is constantly running and along the way there are various obstacles you have to deal with. For some like bad guys and breakable items you hit the attack button, for tables and other items hanging from above you slide underneath and for the rest you jump over it.

Kung Fu Fight - Android - gameplay screenshot

Sounds easy enough, but so did Kung-Fu Master and just like that game it’s much harder to do than it seems. You begin with simple obstacles to overcome and the game will tell you what to do, but timing is everything so just because it says “jump” that does not mean you might not jump to early or too late. As the game progress the stages get harder and harder.

Overall, this is a great retro inspired game that will keep you entertained if not frustrated while you try to beat all the levels. The storyline, music, sound effects and graphics are all retro themed and executed well. It can sometimes be hard to hit the right buttons especially when you are further in the game, but with practice you will get it.

For 99 cents on Google Play it’s worth the buy for any retro gaming fan.

Abobo’s Big Adventure

As much as some followers try to stick the “classic arcade” tag on me, I am every bit as much of a fan of the 8-bit console era of the later 1980s. Back then, if I wasn’t sleeping, eating, showering or doing my homework I was on my Nintendo Entertainment System, and I wasn’t adverse to skipping one of those listed tasks at times to play it.

Abobo's Big Adventure

Months back I learned of Abobo’s Big Adventure, a fun looking Flash-game parody of the entire NES era, and began looking forward to it. The game went live last night and exceeded my expectations, something that is difficult to do with me.

Yes, you are Abobo, the big muscle-headed ugly guy made famous in Double Dragon and you are pretty darn grumpy. Seems a variety of 8-bit characters kidnapped your kid and you are out to get him back. Thankfully they skip explaining how a guy that looks like Abobo managed to become a father.

As you begin your game you are instantly bombarded with characters from just about any NES-era game you can name. You’ll have to do battle with those pink sweater-vest guys from Kung Fu, characters from Renegade, River City Ransom and even T&C Surf Designs. You’ll encounter Goombas, Mega Man boss enemies, the masters of the Pro Wrestling ring and so many more. Even the title screen is full of any 8-bit game character you want to name, from the Duck Hunt duck to the Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus. Finally I got to live out my life-long desire to punch Kid Niki in the face, even if I had to dodge exploding barrels from Donkey Kong while doing so.

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The game plays right in your browser and can use arrow keys or a gamepad to play. As with the 8-bit games of the day there are only two buttons to learn to use. Just pick up and play, and play you should.

Abobo’s Big Adventure is the ultimate 8-bit tribute game and a must-play for any fan of the era. You can stop reading this article now and go do just that by Clicking here.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.