Video Game #14: Karate Champ (1984)
My brother texted me last week that the National Pinball Museum in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was closing after its rent was suddenly raised. It may eventually open elsewhere, but in the meantime he took his girls down for an afternoon of arcade classics. We talked later about how, as much joy a great pinball game can bring, there’s never been a two-player version, where you can go head-to-head against an opponent. Like your brother.
Enter the fighting games. Player v. Player. While the graphics and gameplay have grown more sophisticated over the decades (in most cases intimidatingly so), there is something to be said about the simple joys of the first fighter game, Karate Champ. No special weapons, no power moves, just pixilated karate. Because there were only a few controls and combos, the match really came down to knowing your opponent. In other words, it was the perfect game for two brothers to go slap happy on each other.
Plus, it was the first game you could take out your opponent by kicking him in the nuts. Ahh, technology.