1. International Karate
Published and developed by System 3 Software, International Karate gives virtual martial artists the ultimate goal -- to earn the highest dan and become the world champion. For the uninitiated, "dan" refers to a ranking system symbolized by an array of colored belts. Released in 1985, this side-scrolling martial arts game will pit players against other karate fighters on locations across the globe. From Japan to Australia, even Egypt, the exotic scenery serves as a dramatic backdrop for the game's epic fights.
The rules are simple: knock down an opponent thrice to win a match. This is done by combining punches and kicks with strategic timing as the AI fighter will fall to the ground with a single hit. As it is with other games in the genre, the skill level of the challengers improve as the game progresses.
Players who are new to the genre will surely appreciate International Karate's simple controls. For seasoned fans however, being able to get the highest possible score is likely to be a more crucial part of the experience. That being said, there are a few ways to give it a bit of a boost. In between fight stages, players will be able to add to their score by participating in mini games. These range from breaking wood planks to deflecting balls.
2. Panza Kick Boxing
Released in 1990, Panza Kick Boxing is a video game centered around the world of Thai kick boxing. Developed by Futura and published by Loriciels, it was named such due to having an official endorsement by none other than the great Andre Panza himself -- a champion of three combat sports.
There's no such thing as winning on pure luck when it comes to kick boxing. Andre Panza has achieved his status with plenty of hard work. That being said, players need not go through the rigors of martial arts training just to take a peek into the world of kick boxing. The in-game training game provides a good opportunity for fans to build their character's abilities and to prepare for battle. This licensed title features more than 35 moves, along with customizable attacks to provide an unparalleled martial arts experience on the Amiga.
Aside from being able to participate in thrilling fights on the ring, Panza Kick Boxing's advanced chapter offers players the chance to get an in-depth look on what it is that makes Kick Boxing different from other combat sports. Special options allow fans to change the rules and base it on French Boxing, English Boxing or go for Full Contact.
3. Budokan: The Martial Spirit
Budokan: The Martial Spirit is a combat sports sim which was published and developed by Electronic Arts. It was released back in 1989 and, as the title suggests, is a game which focuses on Japanese martial arts. It covers four to be specific, namely Karate for unarmed combat, Nunchaku (piercing chain), Bo (staff) and Kendo (wooden sword).
The player starts out as an apprentice in four different dojos. Fighting skills are improved by sparring against instructors or friends until he is fit to participate in a world championship tournament held at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan. Here, players face off against a number of martial artists skilled in different weapons and combat styles. Every match is preceded by an introduction about the current opponent to assist in picking the active weapon.
Although wide range of realistic moves are available during matches, relying solely on brute force won't do. Regardless whether it is successfully pulled off or not, every move drains life force or "Ki". On the other hand, blocking attacks increases Ki. The stamina bar is another thing to keep an eye on as lowering this slows movement and exhausting it completely results in a loss.
4. 4D Sports Boxing
The game 4D Sports Boxing is published by Mindscape International and released in 1991. It aims to provide a fully-detailed recreation of the sport instead of just an arcade-style experience. Its graphics engine allows for different camera angles -- an innovative feature at its time of release. Characters are stylized and are designed to play out moves realistically, with all the hooks and uppercuts of an actual fight. Some make use of names based loosely off real people.
Progressing through the game means taking on a slew of skilled boxers with different specialties and fighting styles. Some believe that defense is the best offense while some attack indiscriminately. It's up to the player to overcome their opponent's strengths, regardless how one-sided fights seem to be at first. Boxers may be trained in between with a number of attributes which may be improved (Power, Speed and Stamina).
Fights may last even 15 rounds with disqualifications and draws being a possibility. Additionally, 4D Sports Boxing offers action replays so players can review their matches.
5. TV Sports Boxing
TV Sports Boxing was released in 1991 as an officially licensed title. Players step into the shoes of a rookie boxer who is aiming to win the title of "Champion". Participating in bouts earn money and these may be used to train and pay for a manager. Playing in career mode allows players to customize their boxer from his looks down to his stats. It is also possible to choose the type of style he uses (such as Defensive, Brawler, Dancer) and which of his moves deal the most damage.
Managers are in charge of setting up fights to participate in. Not all managers are created equal. Some have access to better matches. These result in higher earnings though the managers are also paid higher wages. Trainers also differ in quality as some offer better services than others. Fights are viewed in 3rd-person perspective with Player 1 given the spot on the left and the second player (human or AI) takes the one on the right. Whoever drains their opponent's stamina first knocks down the competition. Inflicting serious injuries or knocking rivals out three times results in a T.K.O. Draining the Head or Body rating results in an instant knockout.
6. Best of the Best: Championship Karate
Published by Loriciels and developed by Futura, Best of the Best: Championship Karate is a 3rd-person perspective boxing game released in 1992. It offers a realistic fighting game experience for veteran fans and new ones alike.
At the start of the game, players get to choose their fighter. The characters vary in terms of three stats: Strength, Resistance and Stamina. After one is chosen, the move list can then be set and handpicked from among 55 moves. The key to beating the game is to strategically balance the time spent on bouts and training. The latter improves upon the a fighter's initial parameters while losing in the former reduces them.
7. Full Contact
Released in 1991 by Team17 Software Limited, Full Contact is a fighting game which may be played in different ways. It may be enjoyed in both single player mode or with a friend using the same computer. There is a tournament mode which pits players against several AI characters with matches getting more challenging as the game progresses. Unlike most fighting games, not every foe is human. One of the game's rivals happens to be furry and have four legs. Of course, the goal remains the same -- be ranked first from among ten fighters.
8. The Karate Kid Part II
Released in 1986, The Karate Kid: Part II is a game based on the hit movie which stars Pat Morita. This is an officially licensed title which features five fights which are based on key movie scenes. To keep things challenging, the difficulty increases as players progress through the game.
There are various types of moves available to the player. Pulling these off successfully adds a corresponding amount of points to the player's score and drains an opponent's energy. The goal is, of course, to bring a rival's bar to zero. In between fights, there is an opportunity to play mini games. There are two mini games available, both featuring pixel versions of iconic movie images. One involves catching flies using chopsticks and the other involves smashing a block of ice using their bare hands.
Aside from its single player campaign, The Karate Kid: Part II offers a two-player mode. In this mode, mini games are played in turns by both participants.
9. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
Considered to be one of the most famous (and successful) fighting games series ever, Capcom’s Street Fighter entry for the Amiga is none other than the most iconic iteration of the game: SFII: The New Challengers. This version of the game includes all the impressive combo systems of the previous versions -including the chain combo cancels, as well as the introduction of four characters that would later become important parts of the Street Fighter mythos.
While martial arts games may share plenty of things in common, it is worth playing each one for a variety of different reasons. Each one offers a different set of challenges, a variety of moves and a slew of fighters just waiting to beat you to the top. It may sound intimidating at first but martial arts is all about perseverance and rising up the challenge. And, if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed, there are mini games and silly rivals to enjoy in between.