Yie Ar Kung-Fu
Long before Capcom's groundbreaking Street Fighter 2 refined the beat'em-up genre and gave birth to the Tekken generation of fighting games we know and love today, two early arcade games laid the foundations. The first - Karate Champ - revolutionised fighting games by putting at the player's disposal an extensive repertoire of moves including punches, kicks, defensive blocks and a somersault. The second - Yie Ar Kung-Fu - took the player away from the semi-realistic, feasible moves available in Karate Champ and introduced instead an array of outlandish characters performing 20 foot leaps and outrageous acrobatic moves at breakneck speed in a game resembling a Hong Kong Kung-Fu flick. With realism out of the picture, fighting games suddenly became a lot more exciting.

On a quest to become a Grandmaster, the hero of the game - Oolong (yes, I know it sounds like a type of tea) - must defeat eleven opponents, each with their own distinct style of combat and each more difficult than the last (except Feedle who is strangely rather easy to beat). Fear not however, as not only is Oolong useful if you fancy a cuppa, he is also a highly skilled martial artist capable of leaping huge distances and performing some jaw-dropping attacks. Using a combination of joystick and two buttons - kick and punch - Oolong can be made to perform some impressive looking moves which is a blessing considering the opponents he is up against.

Unlike our empty-handed hero, most of Oolong's adversaries use weapons and with names such as Sword, Club and Chain, it's not difficult to work out which tools of the trade they implement. Beat seven shades out of the final character (Blues - who looks just like our hero except he dresses in ... blue ... wow) and you get to do the whole thing again. Complete the game a second time and a secret penguin character appears. Actually I lied, the game just loops indefinitely. Aren't I just the funniest?

With his opponents running rings around him, Mr Magoo's martial arts career was short-lived

Youch!! A sharp sword up the jacksie
(© Blatant Captions Ltd)

Yes, Yie Ar Kung-Fu lacks special moves, combos, a two-player versus mode and even a character select option. The fighting action isn't exactly tactical and sometimes luck plays as much a part in the outcome of a match as proficiency at the controls. Despite all of this, Yie Ar Kung-Fu is incredibly captivating and plays at a surprisingly fast pace. Visually, Konami have done themselves proud as usual and there is no other game in existence that looks like this. The characters are brilliantly designed and although the moves they perform are limited to one or two frames of animation, the overall look is superb and really is reminiscent of old kung-fu flicks. Sound is also superb - oriental tinkly jingles and sampled vocals add heaps to the overall experience. Reaching and defeating the final character isn't exactly difficult, but that's not what this game is about. Fast-paced, playable, stylish and unique, Yie Ar Kung-Fu is a wonderful reminder that there were playable fighting games before Streetfighter 2.

Graphics: 89%

Sound: 85%

Gameplay: 87%

Overall: 86%
Who needs polygons with such highly stylised characters performing such outrageously acrobatic moves? One-frame animation doesn't detract from the look at all and is hardly noticeable given the game's pace. Tinkly oriental jingles and wonderful Bruce Lee style effects and vocals. Marred only by lack of a versus mode and the option to choose a different character, Yie Ar Kung-Fu is otherwise a wonderfully fast-paced, excitingly playable affair. Not exactly Street Fighter 2 but very playable and fantastic to watch. If only you could play as Chain or Nuncha ....
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Karate Champ • Shaolin's Road • Streetfighter II

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
International Karate+ (C64) • Yie Ar Kung-fu II (C64)

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