Karate Champ

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Karate Champ
Karate Champ flyer.png
Arcade game flyer
Developer(s) Technōs Japan
Publisher(s) Data East
Platform(s) Arcade, Virtual Console, PS4(Arcade Archives)
Release date(s) Arcade
July 1984[1]
Virtual Console
  • JP March 16, 2010
Arcade Archives
  • JP October 9, 2014
  • EU July 28, 2015
  • NA September 29, 2015
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Up to 2 players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright1
Display Vertical orientation, Raster, standard resolution (Used: 224 x 256)

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.[2][3]


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.

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.

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 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.[4]

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.


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.[5]

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]


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".[6]

Author Clayton Crooks released Karate Champ for mobile devices in 2012. The game received favorable reviews from fans and reviewers alike and had an overall excellent reception.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Data East v. Epyx, 862 F. 2d 204, 9 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1322 (9th Cir. 1988).
  2. ^ Ryan Geddes & Daemon Hatfield (2007-12-10). "IGN's Top 10 Most Influential Games". IGN. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  3. ^ "Data East and Capcom Settle their Disputes". Electronic Gaming Monthly (Ziff Davis) (66): 68. January 1995. Data East created the one-on-one fighting game genre in the 1980s with Karate Champ ... 
  4. ^ Hodapp, Eli (2010-05-07). "Classic Fighter 'Karate Champ' Gameplay Video Released". Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  5. ^ http://www.patentarcade.com/2005/07/case-data-east-v-epyx-9th-cir-1988-c.html
  6. ^ Katz, Arnie (January 1986). "Karate Champ". Ahoy!. pp. 53–54. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Karate Champ on the App Store". App Store. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 

External links[edit]