Review: Karateka – 80′s 2D Transformed into 3D Reality

Karateka LLC | 644 MB | $ 2.99

Way back before I was born, there was a time… A time called 1984. During this time, a man named Jordan Mechner created a game while at Yale… A game called Karateka. This game originally was released for the Apple II. Recently Mechner decided it was time to bring the game into the 21st century. Karateka released the game for iOS with its 8-bit goodness.  


The story is the same cliché one from the original. You play as the protagonist of the game going to rescue the damsel in distress. In this case, the damsel is the Princess who has undergone some abuse. You climb up high to begin your journey up the road to rescue the princess.


Along the way, you’ll meet some of the king’s guards, it’s your job to take them down and continue on the journey. As you enter each fight, your health bar, as well as the enemies will show up on the bottom of the screen. You’ll regenerate health as you fight, but at a slow rate. Your main actions include either defending or attacking, which occur in phases. You’ll lose health for each hit you take, they’ll lose health for each hit you give.


There are a few actions you can take however, to protect yourself. The first is to take the hit… That really doesn’t work too well, so let’s get to blocking. Karateka works similar to a rhythm game, match your opponents rhythm and block at the right time. The white dots indicate the combo your opponent plans to relinquish. Block, tap the screen, at the right time and avoid the last hit to go on the offense (if you don’t get the last block, you’ll remain on defense).


Once on the offense, you’ll be given a number of attacks you can perform depending on how well you defended, so it’s important to defend well. You’ll normally get anywhere from 2 to 4 attacks if you’re quick enough. Tap the screen to attack. If needed, you can also stun punch. A ball at the bottom of the screen begins to fill as you fight. Once filled, you can perform the stun punch to stun your opponent into 4 to 5 easy hits.


This is an arcade game, and meant to be treated as such, so points are kept track of. The better you fight, the more points you’ll obtain. You’ll also obtain more points for reaching certain checkpoints as well as changing characters after you “die”.


Controls in battle are simply press the large screen, nothing really to it, it’s very simple. Every now and then, you’ll be caught off guard by a bird that will appear during navigation of the map. You must block the bird and kill it. The king has a few pesky birds protecting him too. Navigating through the map is as simple as pressing and holding, your course is preset.


Gameplay: ★★★★


When you first start the game, you are greeted with crisp, clear, and detailed graphics that have a very nostalgic feel to them. They are the type of graphics you’d expect from a 1980’s remake of a video game. They are beautifully rendered and portrayed nicely. These graphics stay for every cut scene.


However, I’m not sure if it’s a bug or not, but once you get into the real game, the graphics aren’t tolerable at all. They, really, just suck. They are pixelated to death and don’t have the crispness that was teased in the cut-scenes. I want to say that it’s a bug with non-retina support for a retina screen, so I’m not docking it too many stars.


Graphics: ★★★★


The audio in the game is actually very upbeat and fun. The sound effects are reminiscent of a classic, 8-bit arcade game. This is expected, but it makes the game that much more fun to play. Bird squawks for the flying bird can be heard in the distance while every block and hit makes its own distinct sound. Even the stun punch sounds more spectacular.

Audio: ★★★★


Unfortunately, this game is very short lived. The story can be beaten within an hour, easily too. And after the story, there really isn’t much more to the game. You can replay, see what other characters there are, or try to beat your old high score, but it really seems to be done in void. Even with the included achievements to unlock post-game, it remains extremely repetitive, Even moreso than the original Infinity Blade.


Replay: ★★★


This game costs about 3 dollars. This is a very fun remake that will be worth the cash for any person who was alive when the original was made. However, to the current generation that is under 30, they won’t remember this game. The story is pretty short and offers very little replay. The game itself is very fun to play though, definitely well thought through and holds a bit of quality behind it. That quality is quickly tarnished by the graphics.

Value: ★★★½

Final Thoughts

Karateka is a very fun game to paly. It is definitely a pliable remake of the original 1980’s game. It, however, has a short life that quickly becomes repetitive and boring. There certainly could have been a lot more done to make this game better. I hope to at least see an update to fix those pixelated graphics.

Overall Score



† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All accessories, applications, themes, tweaks, or other products were purchased by iFans at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.
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