International Karate Plus logo

KARATE games predate the Amiga by several years. Since then many attempts have been made to spruce them up - scrolling backdrops, swords and a variety of opponents - but the key thing has always been how good the fighting feels.

The main gimmick in IK+ (International Karate plus) is the number of opponents. While Barbarian has a variety of guys trying to thwack your head off, IK+ has only two men coming at you. But they do so together.
Two against one may not be fair but it is much more fun. And in a two player game you and a friend can beat the pixels out of the computer's man.

There are several other gimmicks - cute ones. The single backdrop has a number of animations. The tree sheds leaves which pile up and get eaten by a worm. A spider drops on a thread and a pac-man wanders about.
The sun's ripples reflect in the sea as it laps the shore - you can alter the colours in the water. Fish jump out of the sea with a neat splash and a periscope pops up to view the fight.
The slick presentation is carried on to the title pages. A logo dripping blood had to be changed after some complaints. Instructions are shown with 66 sprites performing moves around the border and the high score table starts with some hints. But you are too busy ducking exploding fists and flying feet.

In a three way fight the winner is decided on combat points. If you attack from the front you score two combat points for each successful move. The first of the three players to score six combat points is the winner, and is awarded extra points for every second left. If the fight lasts 30 seconds the winner is the player with most combat points.
If you have the lowest score at the end of a round the game ends. If one human player loses in a two player game the remaining person has to take on two computer players.

Fighting gets tougher as the game progresses, with the computer adopting different tactics. Sometimes both of the computer's players will gang up on you, sometimes they will fight among themselves and sometimes they will both run away and block so that you cant score any points.

Whatever the tactics, every couple of bouts is punctuated by a bonus level. This either takes the form of bouncing balls, which must be deflected with a shield, or a screen littered with bombs. You must kick the bombs off the screen before they explode.
More bombs appear, faster and faster. Clear the sheet and you awarded 5,000 points. The bomb level is a good way to learn how far your low kick stretches.
Movements can be combined, so you don't have to return to the vulnerable standing position in the middle of seeing off an opponent. This makes the fighting the slickest yet on the Amiga and bouts flow fast and furious.
I kept playing despite a hand which ached from gripping the joystick too hard and too long.

International Karate Plus logo CU Amiga Screen Star

System 3
Price: £24.95

Words almost fail me (but not quite). This is definitely the hippest, not to mention best, beat 'em up on the Amiga yet. Even on your first go you cannot help but notice that it is the same game as the 64 original but one full rung up the evolutionary ladder. To start with, the main title screen features really smart little multi-coloured men bounding round the corners of the screen to a funky toon. This does wonders for first impressions.

I am not going to dwell any longer on comparison between this and the 64 version, there aren't any. The backdrop is fantastic; though sadly there is only the 'one' (don't bring them into it. Ed). This is compensated by all the different things that happen there. Leaves fall slowly from trees, birds fly across the horizon, fish jump out of the water, periscopes pop up, and even Pac Man puts in a cameo appearance. And with the super 'hidden key' combinations you can alter the backdrop colours, the judge and make all the respective features appear at your command. A visual treat.

Almost as impressive are the foreground warrior sprites. All three move with amazing speed, clarity and animation. They perform an array of moves which number well into double figures. High kicks, low kicks, sweeps and a fantastic double kick whereby the character jumps into the air and kicks a leg out at either side. Let me tell you if you can clump the two other fighters simultaneously with this is looks a mite impressive.

When a guy is hit he jumps into the air with a howling cry then lies spread out for a few seconds, stars orbiting around his battered cranium. My fave move though is the punch, quite simply a straightforward gob smack, but, phew, it looks good. Where defence is concerned, you can block. Moving the joystick from an opponent at the same time he goes to thump you results in an effective block, or you can just back flip out of trouble.

Points are scored for the accuracy of a move, one point for a clean hit, two for a clean cut thwacking. The first one to score six points, or the player with the most points at the end of the thirty second bout wins, whilst the person with the lowest score is disqualified, unless he is computer controlled. As you score more points you go up in belts, shown by the colour of the belt and headband of the fighter.

The sound seems as though it has been directly digitised from a karate B-movie. It contains loads of over the top screams and groans as kicks fly, along with a few meaty thwacks. An excellent tune plays throughout the game.

IK+ is an immensely playable game. On the later levels though, the action gets incredibly fast and half the time you can only guess at what the moves are, and to make it worse the computer player(s) start getting really accurate with their blows. They waltz up to one of the combatants and completely flatten them with a volley of hugely offensive moves. They also retain a sort of alternating personality, one moment there is a free for all, the next they are ganging up on you.

IK+ was the best beat 'em up on the 64 and now it is proved to be the same on the Amiga. An essential purchase.

Archer has installed several codes, for you to type in whilst you play.
FREZ freezes the game.
PAC causes the little yellow smilie to gobble his way across the screen. Acieed!
FISH makes a fish leap out of the water, amazingly enough.
BIRD to see a bird fly across the screen.
PERI causes a periscope to peak out of the water.
Typing in a few rude words results in an interesting message appearing on screen.
Finally, type in the following to see some messages Archer included for his mates.

International Karate Plus logo

System 3, Amiga £24.99

Everyone's idea of a jolly good time, I'm sure: getting repeatedly hit by orientals of diminutive stature, wearing baggy pyjamas with bright coloured belts on. What a spiffing wheeze, eh?

Instead of the usual 'you against the computer baddy' playing style, your nerve, skill and reflexes are now pitted against TWO opposing martial artists, in an all-out struggle for glory and survival.

The massacre takes place by a secluded Far Eastern beach. You've got a wide selection of suitably violent moves and your main aim in each level is to fill the six circle symbol thingies at the top of the screen.

Each stage survived moves you a step closer to receiving a higher Dan or skill level and a change in belt colour. Your ultimate goal in life is to reach the coveted Black Belt status, and the only way to do that is to continually smack, punch and generally abuse your way through a multitude of steadily harder challengers. Good, eh?

Every two levels there's one of two bonus stages: either deflect bouncing balls using a shield or kick and dodge a series of bombs. Aaa-so.

Zzap's Back: And here he is! The lad himself! Zzap's Front: Shuttup big nose!

Gordon Houghton While the C64 is drowning in a sea of beat 'em ups, its big brother has hardly had any of real quality - until now. It's quite a relief to see one as good as IK+ smashing its way on to our screens. It's dead slick for a start: little dancing silhouettes, psychedelic rainbow effect on the title screen, fluent and accurate animation of the three fighters in the game. On top of that, you've got loads of amusing additions like a periscope popping up from the ocean and the fighters' trousers falling down (well, I thought they were funny, anyway). Oh yeah - the gameplay. It's brill: the best kicking simulator I've seen on any computer - buy it, despite the price.
Kati Hamza The whole makeup of IK+ oozes quality. The graphics are bright, colourful and very well animated, even down to the little worm which keeps on crossing the screen (aah!). There's a staggering amount of different moves to try out, including a fantastic back-flip, which is really handy for getting behind someone and giving them a sharp smack in the head. It's so realistic when they shout out, you actually cringe with pain. Like most beat 'em ups, IK+ is going to lose a certain amount of pulling power after a while, through lack of variety. On the other hand, it's got brilliant gameplay and really outstanding graphical additions, so who cares?

So many, in fact, that we've only got space for a few. Wanna see more? You'll have to play it, then.

f6 - Turbo
f7 - Swift
f8 - Normal
f10 - Extremely slow

The Rest
T - Trousers fall down
SPACE + P - sound FX in pause mode
B - Different shield
* - Scroll Colours

International Karate Plus logo CD32

Kaum zu glauben: Trotz seines beachtlichen Alters von bald acht Jahren ist Archer MacLeans Fernost-Klassiker die erste wirklich spielbare Prügelorgie am CD32! Dabei hat man sich bei System 3 mit der Umsetzung nun wahrlich nicht übernommen, denn gegenüber dem Original sind keinerlei Neuerungen oder gar Verbesserungen zu entdecken.

Nach wie vor läßt man also allein oder zu zweit im Kampf gegen die Computergegner Hand- und Fußkanten sprechen - luxuriöse Features wie unterschiedliche Szenarien (man fightet stets vor einem idyllischen Sonnenuntergang) oder Charakterauswahl (man tritt immer mit demselben Karateka an) sucht man vergeblich.

Und dennoch sind die Animationen immer noch toll, die Soundkulisse ist immer noch gut und das Gameplay immer noch gnadenlos fesselnd.

Okay, die Steuerung hätte man sicher besser auf das Joypad übertragen können, aber trotzdem reicht es auch heute noch für erstaunliche 70 Prozent (rl).

International Karate Plus logo CD32

System 3, £14.99

IK+ is one of only 17 games to have been in the AMIGA POWER All-Time Top 100 in each of the chart's four years, and there's a good reason for that - it's a completely brilliant beat-'em-up for one or two players, but in which there are always three fighters on screen. Confused? You shouldn't be - the third (or second and third) fighter(s) is/are (oh God) computer-controlled mercenary types, and it's every man for himself, with the lowest-scoring fighter in each round being eliminated from the bout. It's fast, easy to control, exciting and funny and we love it.

This version has been ported directly to the CD32, without even having the screen that tells you about the various keyboard controls removed (tch), but the 'make the fighters' trousers fall down' button has been moved to the joypad, making for an extra element of comedy tactical depth, as you can now distract your opponent by dropping everyone's pants with that dead-giveaway lunge at the keyboard, then smack him in the face as he turns away from the screen to look at you in surprise. In real life, too, if you like.

Apart from that, a straight port, and a must-buy if you've got a CD32 but not an ordinary Amiga. (Otherwise get the floppy version for eight quid from The Hit Squad).