Kung-Fu Master (US Gold) Review | ZX Computing - Everygamegoing

ZX Computing

Kung-Fu Master
By U. S. Gold
Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #29

Kung-Fu Master

US Gold are a bit late in jumping onto the martial arts bandwagon, but presumably they hope to make up for this by coming out with the 'official' conversion of the coin-op hit Kung-Fu Master. If you ever go into a coin-op arcade, you'll probably have seen the original version of this game, which was one of the earliest kung-fu type games to emerge from the arcades. Apart from the novelty of the game, the quality of the graphics and the fact action were the main factors behind the game's popularity.

Predictably, these things aren't quite as successful on the Spectrum as on the original, but the game still has a certain amount going for it.

The game puts you on the ground floor of a wizard's temple inside which the inscrutable fiend has imprisoned your favourite geisha. Starting at the bottom (of the temple, not the geisha!) you have to work your way up to the fifth floor, battling your way past the wizard's henchmen, and other creatures conjured up by his magical powers. To help you on your way you have only three lives and your martial arts skills to rely upon.

Each floor of the temple is shown as a scrolling background, and the stairs to each successive floor can be reached by fighting your way towards the left hand side of the screen. As you do so, the temple guardians and henchmen will pour onto the screen from either side so you have to be pretty quick to spin arond and tackle both lots of attackers.

The different attackers can be identified by their colouring; the purple ones are relatively harmless and can be despatched with a single blow, but the light blue guys are trickier - they can feint as they approach, and hurl daggers at different heights which you'll have to duck under or jump over. The impact of a knife or any blow from an attacker drains your energy level and once that reaches zero you've snuffed it and will have to start from the beginning with a new life. I found this a bit irritating, and it might have been better if yu were allowed to continue each new life from the point where you died. As it is, I sometimes got a bit bored of repeatedly having to go through the early stages on each floor whenever I died.

The graphics are a bit rough in place, I'm afraid. The figures of the various characters are well designed and animated enough, but there are some bad attribute clashes when different coloured figures approach each other, and occasionally when you leap past certain background details.

The action is also slower than in the original, at least in the early stages, and your attackers aren't as versatile as they are in some other kung-fu games - they seem to attack by just walking up to you and draining energy, whereas in other games the attackers often have their own repertoire of fancy moves.

You can draw on the usual variety of punches and kicks, giving you a total of twelve different movements, though you can't do fancy things like somersaulting over opponents. Although you don't have quite the speed and number of moves that other games offer, I found this an advantage in some ways. I'm normally overwhelmed by the speed and complexity of most kung-fu games, but I found it easier to get to grips with Kung-Fu Master than, say, Way Of The Exploding Fist.

So, US Gold might be a bit late with this game, and hardened ninja-bashers might not have too much trouble punching their way through the temple, but if you're still a bit of a novice then Kung-Fu Master could be a good place to start training while we all wait for Fist II.