Kung Fu Master (US Gold/Datasoft) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


Kung Fu Master
By Data East
Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #11

Kung-Fu Master

When Thomas was a little boy he was different from the rest of his peer group; he didn't want to be an engine driver when he grew up, Thomas wanted to be a Kung Fu Master. After years of dedicated practice, Thomas finally achieved his goal and is a bit of a dab hand with the ancient martial art. So when the fair Princess Priscilla is captured by the evil and loathsome Wizard, it is Thomas who must play the hero. The royal beauty has been whisked away to the Wizard's secret temple far away in the wilderness and very well guarded she is too. The temple is five floors high and her highness is on the top floor, each previous level being populated with increasingly nasty do-badders. Not only do the Wizard's henchmen hinder Thomas, but there are also normally inanimate objects that have been filled with badness and behave mischievously when Thomas nears them. On later levels vases fall from the roof and contain snakes that give lots of grief and hassle once let loose.

Thomas has the habit of staying central in the screen while his world scrolls around him. Using the joystick without any fingers jammed over the fire-button moves Thomas around; quite logically left moves him left while right makes him go right. Up prompts Thomas to athletically fly into the air and down causes him to duck down. If a grubby digit is over the fire button then moving the stick about offers one of two sets of functions. The first set is a number of different kicks, ranging from high to low. Press the space and a different set of fighting moves flick into control. Now when fire is touched, a set of punches are summoned up. Pressing space once more brings back the drop kicks.

The baddies stroll down the corridor towards you and need a kick or a punch to total them. If left unassaulted they assault you instead and a quick wiggle on the joystick is needed to get rid of them. All the while you're being hassled, energy status ebbs away. If it reaches zero then one of the three original lives is lost. Once Thomas gets to the end of the corridor he must do battle with the weapon-wielding guardian, a nasty sort of chap who wants to bar the way. Conquer him and the next level is accessible.

A whole host of baddies are after your skin. A majority of the assailants are normal run of the mill joe kung fu's, but also worth looking out for are midgets, mystic balls and exploding pots. Men bearing knives also give Thomas gyp and these take two blows to vanquish.


On the few occasions I've played the arcade version of Kung Fu Master the joystick has always been a bit iffy and I haven't enjoyed the experience that much. Fortunately, this Datasoft conversion is very close to the original and now I can play the game within the confines of the office walls with a working joystick, I find it great fun. Despite dodgy graphics and sound, Kung Fu Master is a great game due to its high playability and is a martial arts variant that shouldn't be missed by fans of the genre.


Kung Fu Master is a very faithful conversion of its coin-op Daddy and contains every aspect of the original, even down to the dum diddly dum diddly backing jingle. The game itself is great fun and getting past the evil guardians of the doors to each floor certainly takes quite some doing. Fortunately you have the option of being able to tackle any of the floors, a luxury which would be greeted with much appreciation in the arcades. The graphics are just about as accurate as they could be and the sound is almost identical (apart from the huuuwack Thomas utters when he hits a horrible hacking matey on the arcade machine). Martial arts freaks should be well pleased with this and shouldn't miss it at any cost.


Though initially very unimpressed with this game, after a bit of play it soon became clear that despite the tacky graphics, Kung Fu Master plays quite well. The challenge and thrill of a good digitised punch up are all there. The smack of flesh against flesh is most convincing and quite satisfying. Graphically it's very splodgy indeed with expanded sprites being put to use for a lot of the nasties. The obstacles faced are strange as well. Though I can see things getting a bit too repetitive after a while, Kung Fu Master is great fun to play.


Presentation 53%
Extremely awkward menu needs three key presses just to start a game.

Graphics 71%
Colourful but very chunky with it, the animation is not exactly astounding either.

Sound 66%
Inept but pleasant tune with some nice sound FX for a bash in the face.

Hookability 81%
Fun to play and has some instant 'mindless' appeal.

Lastability 82%
The several levels offer more than fair challenge.

Value For Money 76%
A bit above the odds for such an average program but violence fans may feel the need to shell out.

Overall 79%
Fighting freaks may flip but norms may not be over enamoured.