This week we dove into the K’s in the Arcade game list and came up with Karate Blazers.
Karate Blazers is a beat-em-up released in 1991 by Video System in Japan and Mc’O River in the US. This martial arts fighting game comes packed with four main characters: mercenary Mark, wrestler Glen, “mysterious fighter” Gil, and ninja Akira. The plot is a common one for an arcade game: a girl has been kidnapped, and the player has to save her. Both Glen and Gil appear later as the Blazers in Sonic Wings 3 where they will again try to rescue their master’s daughter and the stolen scrolls.
Graphics / Sound
In the graphics department, Karate Blazers looks just like all of the other arcade beat-em-ups at the time. Nothing really stands out as amazing but it is not bad by any means. One notable thing is that there is a better enemy variety then your normal beat-em-up, although the final boss is just a reskin of the first level boss. The sound is decent with a good impact sound coming from your hits. The music was pretty good but nothing that will have you humming. During the first couple levels we started calling Karate Blazers Streets of Rage in both its graphical display and musical score.
Controls and Fun
There is nothing wrong with the controls which react well to input presses. The double button press super moves are present here and really suck down your life. Luckily, there are scrolls that you can pick up that give you a freebie; although these scrolls go away after a death. That being said, deaths come in droves but that doesn’t take away from the fun. There is a real sense of power in your moves and it really comes across when you are pummeling your opponents. It is almost like Splatterhouse but with brutal karate moves. It would have been great having Chuck Norris as an unlockable!
Multiplayer Options and Challenge
Karate Blazers has 4 player simultaneous action! While we didn’t get to try that out we did play 2 players. You can switch characters after loosing your stock 3 lives, however for some reason we couldn’t choose Glen at all. I think it was a glitch as there was a 4th player icon present during the initial character selection. Also, thankfully you cannot hit your colleagues as you play. Challenge-wise, this game is extremely difficult but satisfying once you begin to master it. Of course, with freeplay on you can beat the game in one run.
Overall, Karate Blazers is a solid beat-em-up with multiple characters using different karate styles to pummel the baddies. The graphics and sound work for what it is and there is a true sense of power in your strikes which makes for an extremely fun game. While I wouldn’t recommend Karate Blazers for a buy, a play through every now and then is definitely worthwhile.