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Arcade game flyer
|Release date(s)||Arcade version - January 1987
NES version -
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players, alternating turns|
Karnov (カルノフ Karunofu?) is a 1987 platform arcade game. It is the debut of Data East's mascot of the same name. After Data East became defunct due to bankruptcy in 2003, Paon, a company comprising former Data East staff, acquired the rights to Karnov, along with multiple other Data East games.
In the game, players take control of the title character Jinborov Karnovski (ジンボロフ・カルノフスキー?), or "Karnov" for short. Karnov is a strongman popularly illustrated as being from an unspecified part of the Soviet Union's Central Asian republics as shown on the original arcade flyer and again in Karnov's Revenge.
As Data East's mascot, the title character was reintroduced in many other Data East games, including Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja in which he played a boss in the first level. Karnov later appeared in the 1994 Neo-Geo game Karnov's Revenge. This game, also known as Fighter's History Dynamite, is not a sequel to the original Karnov, but to Fighter's History, a competitive one-on-one fighter in which Karnov was the final boss.
The game puts the bulging-muscled, fire-breathing, ex-circus strongman east-Russian hero on a quest through nine different levels to search for treasures. However, between him and the treasures were several horrendous monsters, including sword-wielding monks, dinosaurs, djinn, hopping fish men and ostrich-riding skeleton warriors.
Players can make Karnov walk, jump and shoot his way through these levels and find special items that will help him on his way. He also can collect red orbs with which he can upgrade up to three fireballs at a time. Each level contains a variety of strange enemies, such as gargoyles, tree monsters, will-o-wisps rock creatures, centipede women, and hopping warriors, which Karnov must destroy or avoid. When he reaches the end of a level he usually has to face one or more bosses which he must defeat to beat the level and receive a new piece of a treasure map. In each level Karnov can collect a variety of items along the way, which can be chosen right away or only at certain times. At the end of the game he must face a powerful boss often called "The Wizard" and collect the treasure.
This game was later ported to numerous home consoles, such as the NES, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Tiger Electronics handheld and others. The PC port was developed by Quicksilver Software and distributing on a self-booting disk; they were among the last developers for the PC to still release games in this format. Like Bad Dudes, Ikari Warriors, and Guerrilla War, it was written in Borland Turbo C rather than assembly language and Quicksilver modified the C library files to perform low-level INT 13h disk access instead of DOS calls (since there was no DOS loaded on booter games).
The Famicom version was released on December 18, 1987 in Japan, and a year later on its North American equivalent, the NES, in 1988. Although it plays very similarly to the original arcade game there are some noticeable differences:
- Karnov takes two hits to die instead of just one. After being hit once he will turn a blue color in which he has one hit left or can gain an extra hit back by grabbing a blue fireball orb.
- The Super Fireball is replaced with the Spike Bomb which destroys every enemy on screen. The Trolley item is replaced with the Shield which is used to reflect an enemy's fireballs.
- Levels 4 and 8 are completely different from the arcade levels.
- The final boss is no longer the Wizard, but a giant three-headed dragon by the name of Ryu. Both fights, however, take place in similar rooms.
There are also non-game play differences between the Famicom and NES versions. The Famicom provides a story throughout the entire game, complete with images. The NES game does not have such a feature. The Famicom game is also noticeably more difficult since the continue option is not present after all lives are lost (though the player can press select and start to do so). The NES game, however, provides unlimited continues. The NES game also allowed Karnov to be killed when both the A and B buttons were pressed on the second controller.
Although no direct sequel to Karnov was released, Data East has used the title character as an enemy. In some games, such as Garyo Retsuden, Tumblepop and Trio The Punch - Never Forget Me... (featuring enormous stone statues and even mini versions of the character), Karnov is featured as a regular enemy.
In other Data East games, he is featured as a boss character. In Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja, Karnov is the first level's boss. A slightly different rendition of the boss music is used when fighting him, which contains the familiar melody from the original Karnov game. A grey version of Karnov appears later in the game. According to the credits sequence the Japanese version of the game, this version of Karnov is called Kusamoci Karnov. Karnov is also the last opponent in the original Fighter's History, and becomes a playable character in its sequels. Although not an official cameo, the guard boss from the Gaelco game, Big Karnak, is almost identical to Karnov's and Kusamoci Karnov's sprites from Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja.
Karnov has also made various cameo appearances. He appears in the alley background of the Neo-Geo game Street Hoop. He is shown wearing a shirt with a "K" on it. Karnov also appears in the credits of the independently developed freeware game I Wanna Be the Guy. In Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, a ghostly silhouette who helps the titular character is highly similar to Karnov, and is even implied to be her dead father.
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- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (February 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (142): 42–51.