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Microstyle * £24.99 * Joystick

Karate Kids have had more than their fair share of computer game exposure. Exploding Fists through to Double Dragons have chopped and bashed their way to fame and fortune. Now you’ve a chance to fight properly, for your honour, displaying control, using tactics and occasionally a large sword. The Oriental Games have begun.

Oriental Games gives beat-em-up fans a chance to fight in three classic styles. Kendo, Kung Fu and Kyo Kushin Kai are the forms in which you can get beaten senselss by either the computer or a friend.

Kendo is the art of using bamboo swords, Kung Fu involves high-speed hand and foot fighting, while Kyo Kushin Kai is the style employed on a Saturday night in taxi queues.

Before the big battle all the entrants must register. After a quick bit of form-filling you choose between single warm-up bouts (a sensible option) or leaping straight into the tournament. After this it’s bare knuckle time.

Each bout for is fought over a number of hits. In the classic Hamlet fashion the two opponents face up and then try to score by tagging the other guy. A player’s energy is divided into five blocks, each of which runs from white to yellow to red indicating successful hits. This is backed up with a ‘power’ flag, which shows the relative strength of each combatant.

The boys fight until one bar is completely red, then that guy goes down while the victor celebrates his arrival in the next round.

All the disciplines have special moves, ensuring that you practice before going for a tournament. A joystick editor is available for the linking of moves: so, for example, in Kung Fu a single waggle can send your hero from a front kick to a low punch to a backwards somersault out of danger.


OG hangs tough on the graphics front. The large warriors move quickly, which fosters the sensation of actually fighting, rather than the ‘waggle and hope’ strategy of most fighting games. You need to be able to select the right manoeuvre and with OG it’s possible. The characters move fast enough to demand instant reactions, but slow enough to give you a chance to actually avoid that round-house kick to the head.

The variety of attacks demands good animation and OG is smooth enough to be edge-of-the-seat stuff. There’s lots of groaning and grunting, as you’d expect when people are having their faces kicked off. That’s all you really need and that’s all you get. It’s limited, but then so are the complaints, because these boys are here to fight and not do full-contact aerobics – "Hold that kick, two, three, feel the burn!"


Beat-em-ups have one problem: they demand intensive joystick waggling and as such are physically limited by the amount your wrist can take. There’s added craft in the art of bashing when you use the joystick command editor. You can learn certain combinations that take anyone out, but then so can the better computer players. OG does have lasting interest, but in a different style to the Dungeon Masters and Elites. OG will come out after a hard day at the offices and fancy showing something the back of your hand and butt of the head.


OG has a certain violent appeal, but will capture the imagination only of those who don’t mind putting their brain on hold while their fists do the talking. Having a tough alter ego on screen is fun in the short term, especially fun in the two-player mode. Life’s tense here because pride is on the line.

However, at a time when games, and gamesplayers, are becoming ever more sophisticated, OG appears as a splendid example of a past genre. Beat-em-ups can no longer consist of straightforward head-to-head battles, no matter how good the fighting, regardless of the variety of combat styles on offer.

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Aha, mal wieder ein "schlitz-äugiges" Kampfsportspielchen. Ob es wohl eine Chance hat, gegen altehrwürdige Meister wie "IK+" oder "Chambers of Shaolin"? Sieht nicht danach aus...

Bei Oriental Games gibt es drei verschiedene Disziplinen, in denen man die Gegner flachlegen kann: Kendu, Kung Fu und das unaussprechliche Kyo Kushin Kai. Und das wiederum in drei Schwierigkeitsgraden und wahlweise in einem kompletten Turnier oder als flotter Einzel-Fight für zwischendurch. Bei Turnieren dürfen bis zu 16 menschliche Spieler mitmachen, beim Zweikampf beschränkt man sich (oh Überraschung) auf zwei.

So richting originell an diesem Game sind eigentlich nur zwei Features: Zum einen, daß man seinen Joystick nach eigenem Geschmack neu belegen kann, zum anderen, daß haushohe Siege prämiert werden (was der Motivation natürlich gut tut).

Besagter "Joystick Editor" ist eine recht umfangreiche Angelegenheit, die Einstellungen können sogar gespeichert und wieder geladen werden. Das ist auch bitter nötig, denn die Original-Belegung ist nicht unbedingt das beste!

Das war's auch schon, was es an Positivem zu vermelden gibt, kommen wir zu den Schattenseiten: Die Anleitung weiß zu berichten, daß die 8 Bit-Versionen statt des verunglückten Kyo Kushin Kai so interessante Sportarten wie Karate und Sumo auf der Disk haben – Schweinerei, Betrug!! Außerdem ist die Grafik farblos und fad, der Sound bestenfalls durchschnittlich.

Überhanupt wird man das Gefühl nicht los, vor einer Sparausgabe von "Budokan" zu sitzen – nö Leute, so bekommt ihr den schwarzen Gürtel nicht! (mm)

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'A New Style Of Action' boasts the manual to MicroProse’s latest release on their arcade label. Well it is if you’ve been held hostage in a suburb of Beirut for the last five years. To everyone else it will look like a typical slice of far eastern beat ‘em up.

A few years back you couldn’t move for this type of game. Melbourne House gevan it all with Way Of The Exploding Fist in 1985, a game still rightly regarded as a classic, and one which is, in many ways, superior to this offering.

Oriental Games shapes up like a combat title built along the Epyx lines of several smaller games – yet it doesn’t offer enough variety to truly qualify in this field. There are only three fight options: Kendo, Kung Fu and Kyo Kushin-Kai, the latter two being uncomfortably similar to play.

The game unfurls with a picture of a dojo, or fighting school which ou enter to choose which competition you wish to take part in. A neat registration sequence occurs which has a large baseball-hatted figure dropping his kit and typing his details when a secretary swings a screen towards him. It wets the appetite for more such interludes, but they don’t ever arrive.

This sequence allows you to set the parameters of the game. You can settle to play individual sports or enter them all, change the difficulty levels, and compete head-to-head or with the computer.

Where Oriental Games does seem to offer something, it is illusory. You are given the option to program moves into the joystick – the sixteen pre-programmed ones you are offered are more than adequate, but this allows you to put together multiple moves of up to four actions. Fun but ultimately pointless.

From here it’s into the games. Of these Kung Fu is the most entertaining, although it never supersedes the fun offered by any of the top 8 bit efforts like International Karate. Kendo is average, but once again you’re forced to compare what is essentially a sword fighting game against Barbarian. No contest.

Part of the problem is Oriental Games’ graphics. Whilst it has some nice touches (flashguns pop in the crowd as the fighter battle it out) the figures are small and hence there’s little to gasp at in animation terms, and the backgrounds don’t exactly leap out at you.

The challenge Oriental Games sets is tough enough, although it’s noticeable that it becomes increasingly difficult to manoeuvre your fighter as you progress, but what makes it an average product is that it siply doesn’t cut it as a 16 bit version of a classic genre.