Oriental Games (Microstyle) Review | ST Format - Everygamegoing

ST Format

Oriental Games
By Kixx
Atari ST

Published in ST Format #10

Oriental Games

Rather than following the current trend of using temples, dragons and Japanese paintings galore to create a traditional oriental setting for their new beat-'em-up, MicroProse have decided to give the game a contemporary feel. Oriental Games takes place in a modern fully-equipped sports arena. There are separate sections for each of the three disciplines - kyo-kushin-kai, a straightforward karate combat; kung-fu, a more elaborate and dangerous variation; and kendo, the ancient art of swordplay.

Play begins as the team check in at the desk, prompting the player to enter the settings for the game. You can choose either to jump straight into the competition and fight from scratch, or determine fighting strategies by choreographing set sequences of moves to use in the fight.

All the joystick positions can be programmed with sequences of up to four moves. A fighter can, for example, delivier a jump-kick to his opponent's head, perform a forward flip, turn round and deliver a hefty roundhouse kick to his back all with one joystick move! Winning combinations can be saved to disk for use in future flights, along with the preferred joystick settings for each player.

Oriental Games

The fight screen has an info bar at the top containing pictures of the combatants and each player's health and stamina ratings. Health is lost as you receive blows and stamina diminishes as you carry out more and quicker moves. The result of the fight is determined by which fighter loses his health points first.

The contest takes place between sixteen fighters in a knockout competition to decide the master of each discipline. Once a player has mastered the three events, he can then go on to battle 24 other competitors to decide the martial arts "Grand Master". Any number of players can be human or computer-controlled.


With games of this type, a trade-off has to be made between realistic animation and speed of playability. Oriental Games manages to maintain a quick pace while retaining the graceful fluidity of the fighters' movements. The sprites aren't quite up to the standard of the now-classic IK+, but taking into account the extra number of moves and the variety of design in the three events, the programmers have done a good job of packing it all in. The kendo warriors are particularly intricate, having all the paraphernalia strapped to them required in this tough but graceful event. The sound is of the usual Bruce Lee-type shouting and the cracking of bone on bone, but the individual players have their own "voices" which adds a touch of realism to the game. The selection screens and background animations are well-drawn and polished.


The general feel of the game is very sporty, and rather more strategic than your normal thump, smash and kick affair. The fighting is a little jerky and disjointed compared to games such as the aforementioned IK+, but the ability to set your own sequences and attack patterns means that you have the feeling of training your fighter to win bouts, rather than simply going in fists flying. You can use this approach if you prefer, but this means that each bout is the result of simply standing your ground and getting more attacking moves in that your opponent.

As a standalone Karate game, Oriental Games isn't really the kind of thing that sets martial arts fans' pulses racing, but the combination of strategy, action and three disciplines in one package makes it worth checking out.

Maff Evans

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