Friday, November 9, 2012

Demo Friday: leave well enough alone already

XBLA continues its trend of slim offerings that start a few weeks ago with one new game and another title in the Sega Vintage collection. I have decided to exempt the Toejam and Earl collection the same scrutiny that is leveled at new games. Having never owned a Genesis I lack the rose colored glasses of reminiscence required to actual enjoy a 16 bit re-release. Also, I had no idea what the hell was going on and could only take about two minutes of the games soundtrack before shutting it off. The demo I am going to talk about is Karateka, a remake on an even older game.

That's the whole game. This is the remake:

The first time I saw screen shots of Karateka I thought it was a follow up to Mark of Kri, an excellent game that no one played. Mark of Kri was an excellent brawler that featured absolutely brutal stealth attacks and open, though still linear levels. More of that is never a bad thing. Surely, I thought, the new Karateka would just use the name and the very basic story of the original as a framework for a new martial arts brawler. Nope, it is almost exactly the same as the original that came out in 1984. It has aged just as well you would imagine.

Old Karateka was a side scrolling fighter in which you walk up to vaguely oriental looking dudes and punch and/or kick them until one of you falls down. There is princess involved who will either embrace you when she is rescued or kick in the sac for you trouble (this is not a joke). The new Karateka is a side scrolling fighter in which you walk from left to right, punching and kicking dudes until they fall down. Oh, and there is a block button this time.

Karateka is like colorizing Casablanca. Yes, it is a thing that happened, but there is no good reason it should have and if you enjoy it then you should feel bad for doing so. One of Mechner's games has already received a stellar reboot (and a reboot of the reboot which was not so stellar). Instead of applying new technology to old idea as was done to Prince of Persia this game applies new paint to old ideas. It's insulting to the original, archaic compared to its peers, and worst of all just no fun to play.

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