Amstrad Computer User

King Combat
By Melbourne House
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #24

The Way Of The Exploding Fist

It was the first, but is it still the best? Way back in the summer of 1985 it arrived like a breath of fresh air or a stiff jab in the bread-basket - on the Amstrad games scene.

We went bananas over it. But if you can remember that far back you'll realise that there wasn't an awful lot of competition around. Has Fist stood the test of time?

I think it has. Few of its challengers come anywhere near it for sheer rib-cracking action, nimbleness of animation or strength of addiction.

It's a fairly simple idea - you take on and try to beat a number of opponents in the ancient art of karate. You can execute sixteen different movements from a simple punch to a tricky high back kick.

The beauty of Fist is that it's a simple business to get started and enjoy yourself, but that making progress against the later fighters requires a considerable degree of skill with the joystick.

Practice certainly pays off. There can be few more satisfying moments in games than landing a perfectly timed flying kick and laying your opponent. flat out.

Unfortunately before you get to that stage you'll have to suffer many a savage blow to many a sensitive spot of your anatomy. The other main attraction of Fist is the two player option. Although this means that one player has to use the keyboard the fun is still immense.

The representation and animation of the fighters in Fist are superb. But criticisms were made on its release by those who compared it to the Commodore 64 version - they said the background graphics were dull and the sound appalling.

At the time !thought these people were being churlish killjoys now I'm inclined to think that Melbourne House didn't give as much attention to the frills as it might have done.

However the sound still recreates some suitably unpleasant physical contact noises and the background is pretty enough. Pity it's always the same. What's really important though is the gameplay, and in my book Fist still takes some beating.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu

Although Yie Ar Kung-Fu only offers you ten moves as opposed to Fist's sixteen - it provides elements that make it a very tempting alternative if you're determined not to over load your software shelves with the martial arts.

For a start, you're up against eight different opponents. As if that wasn't enough each one of them has a different style and uses a different oriental weapon. And you get two backgrounds - temple and mountain range - both of them very attractive indeed.

Your opponents include Ruche, a bald blubberbelly with a penchant for nose dives; Star, with his evil oriental projectiles; Nuncha, who menacingly twirls two clubs joined by a chain. Other nestles use swords, clubs, shields and assorted offensive weapons.

So the action is pretty diverse and makes great demands on you as you take the role of Oolong. If I find it hard to be as enthusiastic about Yie Ar Kung-Fu as about Fist it's not on account of the graphics or sound, which are equal if not superior to Melbourne House's offering. It's more because Yie Ar Kung-Fu just seems to lack that sense of real combat that can have you staggering away from the screen wondering if you might not really have a cracked rib or two.

Sai Combat

Sai is a means of combat in which body and weapon are used as one. In this case you use a stick - or bo - to do harm to your opponent.

Both fighters on screen sport natty headbands around their balding pates and are observed by a pair of decrepit old Sai masters.

The state of your energy, or Chi, is represented by the colour of a dragon's head under your fighter if it starts to go green you're in trouble.

As in Fist you are able to use sixteen movements to try and beat your opponents. What makes Sai Combat smarter than the average karate game is the element of the weapons. Somersaulting with a stick is one thing; knowing what to do with it once you've landed is another.

The different levels of the game take place against a variety of pretty backgrounds as you rise through the Dan levels. As the sticks and fighters whirl through the air they make an impressively and fearsome whooshing noise.

The game begins fairly gently and you shouldn't have too much trouble disposing of the first opponent. However the second one is an altogether tougher cookie and will rapidly bring you down to earth in the most painful of ways - more likely than not with a quick poke of his bo in your eye. Sai Combat's mixture of excellent graphics, animation and a gameplan with a touch of originality make it a very desirable fighting game. Now if someone could do a version where the Sai chaps take on the choppers from Fist...

International Karate

Endurance has rather set itself up with its motto - "Perfection is the only acceptable standard". Needless to say, this game falls well short.

Not that it's bad - far from it. It's a workmanlike job, but just lacks that touch of class to put it up with the leaders in takeaway martial arts.

You get the usual two combatants, but they're both rather small and lacking in detail. You also get 16 movements, but I have to admit that I found them less than simple to implement - with the result that I often got a faceful of flying kick.

The international element comes in with the backgrounds - if you defeat one fighter you jet off round the world to take on the next. Why is anyone's guess, but here you have it.

The result is that you get six different backgrounds - Sydney Harbour, the Pyramids and so on. Pretty though these are, they remind me of the illustrations in a graphic adventure.

Sound effects are strange - something like listening to a sea shell. But the game's biggest problems are that the fighters are too small and the action not violent enough.

The Way Of The Tiger

As befits a game that features trigeminal scrolling Way Of The Tiger comes in three sections. So it's not so much a karate game - although it includes that - as a triple combat game. What you get for your cash is unarmed combat, pole fighting and sword fighting. The action takes place on a screen split in to three separately scrolling areas - hence the trigeminal business.

This scrolling gives a good impression of movement, matched in quality by the rest of the graphics and the animation. As the heroic ninja you have to take on numerous opponents in your fight against evil. In the first section - unarmed combat - you could come up against anything from a nasty goblin to a tough old troll.

Success in this section takes you on to the next stage - pole fighting. The scrap takes place on a log over a river and defeat means taking an early bath.

The next stage is sword fighting, which again has a superb background. The scrapping here tends to be tougher than in the two previous sections.

Possible movements are limited to about ten in the game, and essentially the same ones are used in all sections.

While the scrolling, background graphics and animation are all excellent there's no overwhelming sensation of being involved in a fight to the death. Tiger seems to lack something of the excitement of the best on-screen scraps.

Bruce Lee

The game that's named after the man who might be said to have started - or he to blame for - the whole martial arts craze.

It's a strange package and strictly speaking doesn't belong in this section since it's not solely a combat game. However I can't think of anywhere else to put it, so here it is.

It is a successful combination of combat and platform game. You, as Brucie, run around trying to collect lanterns, unlock doors and claim the evil wizard's fortune.

Trying to stop you is the Green Yamo - an overweight lump of green fluorescence - and his sidekick the ninja.

So as you rush up, down and around the screen you regularly have to stop for a spot of full body contact with these two.

Since the characters are pretty small and there's lots else going on the combat isn't as complete as the specialist games. But it's still good fun, and the other elements make the whole thing a very enjoyable game.

Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing

Bazza may think of himself more as a chat show host than a boxer these days, but his program is still the best boxing game around. It has excellent graphics and fight action added to a genuinely intriguing strategy element.

You begin by creating your boxer out of the available characteristics. So you can, for instance, choose from styles such as Slugger you like to get in close for a bit of rough house-or Dancer - where you're one of those elegant movers who rarely gets within an arm's length of his opponent.

Before you make it in to the ring you have to spend some time in training camp, working up a sweat on the bags, sparring or running 10 miles at five in the morning.

If you've done the business then you should have a chance when you take on your foes, the first of whom is likely to be the tough but lumbering Cannonball Corby - some joke about Commodore? Since the boxers move automatically according to the chosen style you can concentrate on landing some good punches.

The program is written with a deal of thought and skill. Graphically it packs a reasonable punch, but. what makes it the number one is its excellent blend of strategy and violence.

Frank Bruno's Boxing

Until Barry burst through the ropes this was the heavyweight among boxing programs. It's still good - graphics and action is exciting - but it now seems to lack a little of the skill element.

3D Boxing/Rocco

A couple of contenders who never really made it to the top rank - probably because their trainers never quite thought out the strategy properly. Its 3D's graphics are not very impressive, and get less so when the action starts.

You never seem to have any close control over what the fighter is doing and pretty quickly you don't really care.

Rocco does have impressive graphics - very detailed indeed. Unfortunately all four opponents look exactly the same and share the same fighting style.

Knight Games

This medieval slice-'em-up features some of the most impressive background graphics I've ever seen on the Amstrad, as well as the funkiest music since Blondel was serenading Richard the Lionheart.

It's also got eight events, six of which involve battering away at an opponent. You get two sword fights, quarterstaff, pikestaff, ball and chain, axeman.

Clanking around in his armour the player just tries to hammer his opponent - it seemed to me that there was neither much subtlety in the gameplay or variety between the different events. In fact the two most enjoyable sections of the program are, unfortunately the least violent - archery and crossbow, in which you have to aim at targets spinning in the distance.


It's hard to find anything good to say about this. The graphics are dismally sketchy, the action is unclear and the sound a collection of beeps.

The idea is to fight your way to freedom by winning gladiatorial combat.

You have a choice of 45 weapons - which sounds fab, but isn't.; the dozen or so swords. for instance, are not terribly different. The best combination of weapons is two tridents.

In the arena, under the Emperor's gaze, you scrap it out. But the action is unclear and you'll find it very hard indeed to beat the computer.

Fighting Warrior

Excellent graphics and animation, atmospheric soundtrack and the most disgusting slicing, squelching and spitting noises to be found in a game. But, I'm afraid, rather tedious when it comes to the fighting.

As you make your way from left to right across the screen taking on a variety of bizarre creatures, the action becomes very repetitive. You only have a sword to fight with and four movements of it.

In the end Fighting Warrior disappoints. At first you think it's going to be the combat game to end them all, but ultimately it's a bore..

Rock 'N Wrestle

A nice idea, this one. And it's one of the few combat games to pull off a true 3D effect. Not to mention the 25 different wrestling moves.

Problem is that it's terribly difficult to perform these moves, with the 3D only adding to the confusion.

I'd recommend this only to dedicated grapple fans who know their wrestling, can cope with the garishly colourful costumes and don't mind suffering the odd body slam.

Jim Taylor