Karate Champ

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Karate Champ
Karate Champ flyer.png
Arcade game flyer
Developer(s) Technōs Japan
Publisher(s) Data East
Distributor(s) Data East
Platform(s) Arcade, Apple II, Commodore 64, NES, Famicom Disk System, Virtual Console, iOS
Release date(s) Arcade Apple II Commodore 64 NES Famicom Disk System Virtual Console iOS
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Up to 2 players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Data East Z80[7]
CPU Z80 @ 3 MHz[7]
Sound AY‑8910 @ 1.5 MHz, DAC[7]
Display Vertical orientation, Raster,
224×256 resolution,
59.1 Hz refresh rate,
256 out of 768 colors[8]

Karate Champ, known in Japan as Karate Dō (空手道 "The Way of the Empty Hand"?), is a 1984 arcade fighting game developed by Technōs Japan for Data East. It is credited with establishing and popularizing the one-on-one fighting game genre. A variety of moves could be performed using the dual-joystick controls, using a best-of-three matches format like later fighting games, and it featured training bonus stages. It went on to influence Konami's Yie Ar Kung Fu and other fighting games.[9]

Overview[edit]

Gameplay of Karate Champ

The player assumes the role of a karate competitor and fights against another player or the computer. Using two joysticks, players can execute a number of moves.

Gameplay consists of a two dimensional fight between Karate characters wearing white and red gi, followed by various bonus rounds for the successful player. This pattern repeats itself in the next, more challenging round set against a new background. Unlike most later fighter-type games, there are no health bar or hit points. A hit successfully landed ends the round and earns the player or his opponent either one point or half point (along with a numeric score for the top ten but this has no effect on winning a match per se). The first to score two points is the winner. If the player loses a battle, the game ends. The game also featured some early speech synthesis, in which the judge would call out such phrases as "Fight!" or "Winner!" It's also spoken in Japanese in the Japanese version.

Available moves[edit]

Attacking moves[edit]

The available attacking moves consist of (available half / full points shown in brackets):

  • Lunge Punch (high) (300/600 pts)
  • Lunge Punch (low) (200/400)
  • Reverse Punch (standing) (200/400)
  • Reverse Punch (crouching) (400/800)
  • Round Kick (400/800)
  • Front Kick (100/200)
  • Low Kick (100/200)
  • Back Kick (200/400)
  • Back Round Kick (500/1000)
  • Jumping Side Kick (500/1000)
  • Jumping Back Kick (500/1000)
  • Foot Sweep (100/200)
  • Reverse Foot Sweep (100/200)

Defensive moves[edit]

In addition several defensive / non contact moves are available in addition to forward, back, jump and crouch:

  • High Block
  • Low Block
  • Forward Summersault
  • Reverse Summersault

Player vs. Player edition[edit]

Karate Champ — Player vs Player (対戦空手道 美少女青春編 Taisen Karate Dō: Bishōjo Seishun Hen?, "The Competitive Way of the Empty Hand: Pretty Maiden Edition") is a sequel to Karate Champ that was released for the arcades shortly after the original during the same year. Like its predecessor, it was published by Data East, but it is unclear if it was developed by Technos or by Data East.

The sequel is very similar to the original in the sense that they use the same hardware, have the same sprites and title screen, and the play mechanics are essentially the same although the computer AI is greatly improved along with control and hit detection. Whereas the original game started with the first level taking place at a dojo and all the following levels taking place at a tournament stadium, Player vs Player has the characters fighting it out over girls at locations around the world.

The main hardware upgrade is the addition of Oki's MSM5205 sound chip, clocked at 3.75 MHz.[8] The MSM5205 produces 12-bit PCM speech synthesis from compressed 4-bit ADPCM samples with up to 32 kHz sampling rate.[10]

Ports and related releases[edit]

Karate Champ was ported to the Apple II and the Commodore 64 by Berkeley Softworks. Data East began publishing the home versions in the US on October 12, 1985.[1]

The NES version was developed in-house by Data East USA and released in North America on November 1986. This version was inspired by the Player VS. Player edition of the arcade game. The port was later released in Japan for the Disk System on July 22, 1988, but never made it to the cartridge-based Family Computer. Data East published this version of the game, both in North America and Japan.

The arcade version was shown briefly in the movie Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

An emulation of the arcade version was released by Hamster for the PlayStation 2 as part of their Oretachi Geasen Zoku Sono lineup.

On May 7, 2010 it was announced for release on the iPhone OS platform by developer Revolutionary Concepts.[11]

The emulated version was also re-released in March 16, 2010 for the Wii in Japan as part of Virtual Console Arcade series, which the only the arcade game for the Wii was delisted on February 1, 2013.

Lawsuit[edit]

Publisher Data East brought suit against Epyx alleging copyright infringement for its game World Karate Championship. The case went to the ninth circuit court. It was held that the typical purchaser of the games would not find them substantially similar.[12]

Main article: Data East USA, Inc. v. Epyx, Inc.

After the release of World Karate Championship in the US in late April 1986, Epyx was sued by competing video game publisher Data East for infringement of copyright, trademark, and trade dress. The dispute was about similarities to the 1984 arcade game Karate Champ and its home computer adaptations published in 1985. International Karate used the same coloured fighters and had the same points system. The initial trial at the District Court for the Northern District of California began on 28 October 1986. In his decision of 28 January 1987, the court dismissed the allegations of trademark and trade dress infringement but found Epyx guilty of infringing upon Data East USA's copyright on Karate Champ.[6] Data East obtained a permanent injunction against Epyx, Inc., and an impoundment that restrained Epyx from further sale or distribution of World Karate Championship. Epyx was required to recall from both customers and distributors all copies of the infringing work.[7]

The decision was appealed the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who in November 1988 reversed the decision, stating that while the game was similar, it was not identical, and that one game company can not monopolise one entire sport.[1][8][9]

As a result, Melbourne House did not sue System 3 nor Epyx, as the game The Way of the Exploding Fist is also very similar to both of these games, though the game itself also borrowed heavily from Data East's Karate Champ.

High score[edit]

According to Twin Galaxies, Jack Gale, of North Miami Beach, Florida, USA, scored a world record 259,800 points on Karate Champ, on June 28, 1987, during the 1987 Video Game Masters Tournament.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Ahoy! wrote that the Commodore 64 version "isn't quite as electrifying as the arcade version, but it's an entertaining action-strategy test". The magazine concluded that "The learning curve is steep, but ... When the joysticks are in the hands of two practiced gamers, it is one of the most exciting games to hit the computer screen in a long time".[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]