Aug 11 2009
Jordan Mechner’s first masterpiece was released to critical acclaim on the Apple IIE but later converted to almost every system. It is in Karateka that we first see the rotoscoping method that was later to be used to such incredible effect in Prince of Persia, his seminal masterpiece.
Karateka is much slower than Prince of Persia, but the silky-smooth animation more than makes up for it. When your fighter skids to a halt and assumes the martial stance, fists clenched, you knew that this was something special.
Although the game was totally linear it did allow Mechner to develop a full storyline, with mini cut-scenes as the bad guy threw all he had at you.
The other graphics in the game, although sparse, were used to great effect. Backgrounds scrolled smoothly by and the sets were almost stylised in their simplicity.
Karateka was the beginning of a revolution in both platform and beat-em-ups, the techniques developed here would later go on to influence a wide variety of games – Prince of Persia, Flashback, International Karate +, Way of the Exploding Fist and even games like Streets of Rage!