Commodore User

By Melbourne House
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #41


Melbourne House were the first to release a kung-fu game in the form of the legendary Way Of The Exploding Fist and it seems that they are determined to release the last one as well. They've also just released a trilogy of kung-fu games called Martial Arts Triathlon consisting of Fist, Fighting Warrior and the unreleased Karate Chop. Knucklebusters could have easily been included in it.

The game is set in the future when a third of the population are locked up in state prisons and subject to corrective surgery to solve the overcrowding problem and also produce an almost unlimited supply of android prison guards.

You play Deke who's decided it's time to escape before they operate on him. Wrenching a PCB from the wall he makes his escape but also accidentally sets the central computer to a self destruct program that would destroy the prison, city and you, as Deke, unless you escape in the next seventeen minutes.

Knuckle Busters

Naturally, the guards will try to stop your efforts, not with lasers that have been banned by the Convention (the Melbourne House Convention of not spoiling yet another kung-fu game by letting you blast the enemy with lasers?) but in "lethal, clinical, hand-to-hand combat". Curiously the action has been dramatically simplified so you can punch and kick in only two directions. Gone are the twenty moves from a single joystick. Instead you must thrash your opponent with as many blows as you can before he drains your energy and costs you one of your four lives.

To escape, you will not only have to beat an inexhaustible supply of clinically punching and picking androids, but also navigate the maze of levels that will lead you from the cell blocks, through the guard area and the prison wall and through the city's downtown precinct until finally you arrive at the single exit through the city wall.

Each level is represented on screen by three levels of platforms that you can leap between to avoid guards, find doors or search for objects. These are usually hidden in oildrums or boxes and can be revealed with a swift kick (after you've fought off the guarding android). It's usually worth the effort since you can find keys to unlock doors that lead to other areas, energy giving snacks, bonus points and extra lives even though some are booby trapped.

Unfortunately, not even five types of androids, impressive background graphics or the boppy background music can save the Knucklebusters from the obscurity of being yet another Kung-fu game.

Tony Hetherington

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