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Kung-Fu Master Review

Developer: Irem Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1987 Available On: Atari 2600

At the very beginning of the NES era, there was a game called Kung Fu released for the system, a port of an arcade game. However, the NES was not the only system to receive a port of that particular arcade game. The Atari 2600 also received one. Now I know what you are thinking: “Could the Atari 2600 really handle that game?” Well, by 1987 Activision was ready answer that question. Did they succeed? Read on to find out.

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The concept behind Kung-Fu Master is simple. You control a kung-fu master who is making his way through a building to rescue a princess. So anyway, you can walk left or right, you can duck down to avoid high attacks, you can jump, and you can attack forward with either punches or kicks depending on what combination of the button and joystick presses you are employing. This is certainly one of the most complex games of its type on the Atari 2600.

Indeed, I was impressed by how much of the variety of the NES version is to be found in the Atari 2600 version as well. Most, if not all, of the enemy types make it into this version, and the attack variety is impressive for an Atari 2600 game. Some of the controls are a bit complicated since there’s only one button, but that is not the fault of the developers of the game. And do not be deceived into thinking that this version is not as difficult as the other versions of the game that are out there, because the difficulty is still here, if it is not higher.

Graphically, this game is excellent for an Atari 2600 game. Sure, Kung Fu for the NES looks very basic compared to many later NES games, but, even with slightly worse graphics than the NES version (and I do mean slightly), the game is easily on the upper echelon of the Atari 2600 library graphically. The people, both the protagonist and the enemies, look convincingly like people, and the knives look convincingly like knives as well. I would be hard-pressed to name an Atari 2600 game with graphics this good. As if that is not enough, the game employs a scrolling screen as well. Granted, the scrolling screen concept had been done many times before this game was released, but those games were still the vast minority, even in 1987.

And what can be said about the sound? First of all, the same music present in the NES version is present in this version. Yes, that is right, this game has music that plays during gameplay, another thing which puts Kung-Fu Master among a very elite group of Atari 2600 games. Compared to the music, the game doesn’t really have that many sound effects to speak of, but that is not a really big deal considering all that the game has to offer.

If you already have the NES version of this game, there is really no need for you to have the Atari 2600 version since there are no really significant differences between the two. If you do not have the NES version, or if you just want a game that can demonstrate what the Atari 2600 is truly capable of, this is a good game to look for. However, this is not one of the most common Atari 2600 games, so be warned that it could be hard to find and might cost a little more than some other games for the system would.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.5
Written by Martin Write a User Review