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Best of the Best: Karate Championship


Hoskat

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Genre: Fighting

Publisher: Electro Brain

Total time played: 10 Hours

Short review: I guess this qualifies as a karate game but I never once felt in control so it almost felt like I was watching a poorly animated 8-bit cartoon over and over until I was lucky enough to win.


Interesting links related to Best of the Best: Karate Championship


They Tried

I’ll give it to the developers, they really tried to make this game realistic. The graphics are pretty decent and the idea to use the stage lighting as the life bars was pretty unique. But, the way the game flows, the menus, the objectives and the manual leave a lot to be desired.

The Menu

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This is the menu screen, looks nice, right?

Let’s go through the options here and try to make sense of them.

Reset: I never clicked this button but I assume it resets the game or at least resets the stats back to the default?

Pad vs NES: this means the player on the left is controlled by a human and the player on the right is controlled by the computer. You can change this to Pad Vs Pad to play 2 player. Not sure why they decided to go against the best practice naming that every other NES game uses.

Grading: Clicking this screen shows all the characters in the game with how much money they have won. But, at no point in the game does it tell you how much money each fight is worth or how much you have. The only way to see your name on this screen is to have enough money to be on it.

Hitting the A button while looking at the money takes you to a screen that shows little icons which represent the trophies each player has. This same trophy icon appears near the fighters mugshot on the menu. How you win/lose these is not clearly explained, but, I think I finally have it figured out. When you win match you get the trophy of your opponent and they get your lowest ranked trophy. So, it is possible to have your name by the trophy on the Grading screen but that trophy now shows on your opponent on the menu screen.

Select Hits: Until I found a random YouTube comment that was shown on screen as a screenshot in a different YouTube video on this game I had no idea how this screen worked. The manual mentions there are 32 moves in the game and you can assign 8 of them to your fighter at a time. On the Select Hits screen there are 8 options. What I assumed was that you could assign a specific move to each of the 8 options creating your 8 unique moves. But, I couldn’t figure out how to assign moves. What you actually do is select from 8 presets each with a set of 8 pre-assigned moves.

Load: Allows the player to put in a password to continue an earlier game. You aren’t loading anything, you are inputting a password

Save: Generates a password. Again, it doesn’t save anything, just gives you a password you can “load” into the game.

Name: Allows you to change the name of your character

Preview: Allows you to watch a preview of you vs. the opponent. This served no purpose and was the equivalent of not hitting start in a game and the game then shows you a demo of the game.

Physical Type: This pops up your 3 attributes and compares them to your opponent. From what I gather these numbers mean absolutely nothing. Sometimes I would fight an opponent who literally had half of the stats I did and I would lose 10 times in a row. I understand the concept here but it appears to be completely broken.

Match: This is what you select when you are ready to lose to fight your next opponent.

Next: The game lets you fight whoever you want whenever you want. I prefer the traditional fighting game method of moving on to the next guy automatically. All of the opponents look exactly the same and the only way to know if you have beaten them is to remember which trophy they got when you beat them.

Training: This is where you build up the stats of your 3 attributes. The first 2 require you to just mash the buttons to fill up a meter while the 3rd requires you to hit Up, Left or Down depending on which of the 3 training pads on the screen protrude from the wall.

Honestly, this is the only part of the game I felt like I had a decent handle on. But, like I said earlier, I never noticed any increase in my fighting ability as my stats increased and it is possible to increase your stats too much and not be allowed to fight an opponent.

One big annoyance was that if you lose a match your stats go down a bit meaning you have to train more. Eventually I gave up on this and just would put in the password to avoid having to do the training again. Honestly it didn’t save much time but my thumbs started hurting from the button mashing required in training.

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Not bad looking. Unfortunately this is 90% of the game.

Am I Controlling This?

The first 3-4 hours of attempts in this game I never once felt like I had control of my character. Even after beating the game I still can’t fully explain how the controls work. But, I will explain how I think it to works. First off, the time between hitting a button and the character performing the moves is so slow it was really hard to know what button performed what action. I think this was done to keep people from just button mashing, you are supposed to plot out your moves. This is to make the game more realistic, it just frustrated me.

Holding or tapping the Down button will dodge or block your opponents moves. It was hard to time with the huge lag in button input but if you got lucky and dodge a few attacks your life meter increases a bit.

To pull off an attack you hit A or B (both buttons do the same thing) and tap the D-Pad in any of the 8 directions. Sometimes hitting the D-Pad without pressing A or B would also perform a move. I think pressing A+B with no direction pressed may also perform a move. Again, I never felt comfortable as to what I was hitting actually did.

No Spam!

In a lot of fighting games, beginners will perform the same move over and over, this is called spamming and often times a spammed move is impossible to stop meaning experienced players will lose to beginners. In Mortal Kombat for example, if you continuously foot sweep your opponent you can win most matches. It isn’t fun and doesn’t take skill so is generally frowned upon in the gaming community.

Best of the Best made sure you couldn’t spam to win a match. If you attempt the same move 3 times in a row the referee stops the match for a few seconds and resets the fighter’s positions.

How To Win A Match?

At the start of the match there are 4 lights above each fighter. As you hit your opponent the lights dim and then go out. When all 4 lights go out the fighter will fall to the ground and not get up. The other way to win is to make it through all 5 rounds and have more lights than your opponent. I never once went to decision, I always won or lost in the first 4 rounds, with exception of the last fight where it did go into the 5th round.

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How To Beat the Game?

You have to beat every opponent in the game plus some secret opponents that will ask you to fight after you have won a few matches in a row. Basically, I just kept fighting until I saw the screen telling me I was the best of the best.

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The Breakthrough

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The comment that saved my sanity

Before I found this comment I won 6-7 matches in about 8 hours. After reading this and using this strategy I won my next 5 matches in a row. Without this I don’t think I would have been able to beat the game. So, basically, this is a way to spam the opponent with the same attacks without triggering the games anti-spam feature.

It made the game much better but still not fun. But, you can’t argue with results. The below image of me beating a fighter who had the highest number for all 3 stats, 99. Look at those splits? What you don’t see is how violently the character does the splits, he lands so hard he bounces off the ground!

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Final Thoughts

This game is pretty ambitious, the developers tried to make a realistic fighting game. But, the NES hardware couldn’t really handle the vision of the game designers and because of that the game is nearly unplayable. Honestly, if there wasn’t such a lag between inputting controls and seeing the action performed on screen the game would have been decent. But, because I never once felt in control I have to give this game a really low rating of 1 heart.

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