I often find myself trolling from one classic game download to the next modern game trailer to a Flash game. Having not been a gamer for the golden age, or whatever you think the period should be called from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, I often download full games in about 20 seconds and then play a few levels. And then sometimes I find even older games and download them in 2 seconds.
A couple days ago I ran across Karateka, a game by Jordan Mechner, the creator of Prince of Persia. Clearly the precursor of POP, Karateka has the player moving a ninja forward through a flat environment and a wave of opposing ninjas. Like a typical fighting game you have movement and then keys for upward, straight, and down kicks and punches. Finally, there is one more button to switch your character from running to fighting stance. Your goal is to move forward and rescue your love at the end. So simple, and yet pretty enjoyable.
In terms of gameplay it was very simple and I never really felt much depth to the combat, but the simplicity of the presentation made it all work. You've got arrows at the bottom showing your health and your direction while whichever ninja you're currently battling has the same health arrows. Anytime you defeat a ninja your health returns to full and you can run forward until you hit the next ninja. Just be careful not to still be in running mode when they attack or it's game over. My fascination with the game ended, however, when suddenly a gate fell on me as I ran forward under it. No warning, just spikes falling on me. The revenge of old games and their arbitrary deathtraps! I decided then that I didn't care for my pixelated love enough to fight through the hordes again.
And I found out about this game because apparently Karateka shall be returning in next-gen form sometime in the future with Mechner at the helm.
the original Karateka
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