Karateka PS3 Review
Every gamer has a game that started their love of the hobby. For me, when I was in my early teens playing games on the Commodore 64 there was one game that was almost impossible to beat, Karateka. Eventually I did finally finish the game and rescue Mariko, the protagonists true love. This left an impression on me for a long time. I do have to say that when I saw this on the PSN Store I was floored. As I had thought not too long ago about a remake of this game and along come Jordan Mechner to update/remake his original Apple II game.
You play as 1 of 3 suitors, True Love, The Monk and The Brute. This gives you 3 chances to make it through the whole game. You gain points by defeating the guards along the way. Ideally you want to make it to Mariko as her True Love, completing the game with this character gives you extra bonus points at the end. If your character should perish along the way, the guards throw him over the cliff and then you continue with the Monk. The Monk is stronger than True Love and makes the fighting easier, not much but enough to get farther. When the monk is overrun then you are the Brute. He has great strength and is able to take on most fighters fairly easily. It is similar to the original in the fact that you run to each opponent and block their attacks and you have limited time to land attacks on them. Along the way you are able to pick up “Mariko’s Flowers”.
These give you health back that you’ve lost and if your health is full it fills up a circle meter that allows you to stun your opponents for you to land “special attacks” that do more damage. This meter is also filled slowly by successfully blocking attacks and doing damage to your opponents.
If you’ve played the original you’ll remember the Hawk. The Hawk was and is probably the most challenging part of the battles. You have to block its initial attack, then counter by either punching or kicking it depending on where it was blocked. This was the hardest part for me because it was hard to tell if the bird was high or low in front as the camera angle was quite difficult to determine the location of him. Luckily during your fighting with the Hawk, your health replenishes slowly over time and he makes multiple passes so there is a bit of a learning curve here.
There are min-boss battles along the way as you make your way through the fortress and you are awarded points every time you defeat them. Some bosses land 5 chain combos that you must block to be able to attack them.
The most important one to block is the last attack from your opponents, as missing this last attack, you are stunned and unable to attack and must block the next series punches/kicks.
Graphics have been completely overhauled for this 2012 release. They are more stylized and have a cartoonish look to them. Although I’m going to say that the original game did a great job of presenting what was needed back then. Today, these changes have made the game feel more real. The camera swings from the defenders (opponents) position when they are attacking to you when you are attacking. Trying to find ALL the flowers can be quite cumbersome and I did miss 1 or 2 as I ran past them without realizing that they were there. I did not experience any graphical glitches with this version. When I first fired up the game I was amazed at the style that was chosen for this new release of the game.
The original game had very limited audio, apart from several cut scenes where the music was just a few chords. When starting the game I was given that audio satisfaction to hear those sounds once again as the main score for this game as well. It brought back many memories and images of the original. This is what I’ve been waiting for…I was even humming the score well after I played the game and still smiling that this level of detail was continued to this release.
Each character does have their own music score, but it was used for introducing you to the character. For example, when you first meet True Love climb up the cliff he has his own music score and that is about the extent of his introduction. Each character after has a more complex score as well. Plus as you progress through the game the introduction music for each level becomes more complex with a full orchestral accompaniment by the time you are faced to fight Akuma, who is hold the princess Mariko.
Overall, I did enjoy my experience with this game even though I completed it in 31 minutes 11 seconds. But I did not finish with True Love. I finished the game with The Brute and was rewarded with a final cut scene with him. But I was then challenged to try and finish the game with True Love and this is where the replay value comes in for me. As in the original game, you only had 1 life to fight everyone and rescue Mariko from Akuma. It also brought back many memories for me and I’m glad that this game was not left to die. Overall for me, I’m going to give it 8.5.
Platforms: PSN (XBLA, WIN, IOS) – Publisher/Developer: D3 Publisher/Liquid Entertainment
Release Date: December 18, 2012 PSN (XLBA, WIN, iOS November 7, 2012)
Price: PSN $9.99 (800 MS points, Steam $9.99, iOS $2.99)