Karateka is a long lost game that was released way back in 1984 and created by Jordan Mechner just before releasing the much more successful Prince of Persia. Ever since then, Karateka has been left on the side-lines whilst Prince of Persia went from strength-to-strength and after its transition to 3D is now one of Ubisoft’s most popular franchises. However, it seems that Karateka is set to get its finally going to get its chance at being in the limelight.
Speaking at a recent Question and Answer panel over at the San Diego Comic-Con event, Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner revealed that he is indeed set to resurrect Karateka, the first video game he developed when he was back at Yale University in 1984, bringing a sequel to the world and actually being heavily involved in the project, unlike the post-Sands of Time Prince of Persia titles.
For those not aware of what Karateka is all about, the single-player action game was one that featured impressive fluid animation for its time and was the basis for 1989’s first Prince of Persia release. More details can be seen below, courtesy of Wikipedia:
“The game begins with an impressive graphic of the fortress of the evil Akuma. Akuma is holding the lovely Princess Mariko. The player must defeat the guards of the castle and must eventually face Akuma himself in order to rescue the princess. Mechner adeptly used character gestures and musical cues to evoke the game’s immersive atmosphere. The animations nearly match the quality of the ones seen in Mechner’s Prince of Persia five years later. Combat consists of side views of the two combatants, very much like as with a platform game. The hero and the foe fight it out, trading various punches and kicks. Both the hero and enemy can throw three punches and kicks, each at a different height.
“The player only has one life, but in lieu of lives, the player has health points. Receiving blows from the enemy lowers these points, but they can be recovered by resting (not attacking or being struck). The enemy’s health points are also visible to the player. When all health points are exhausted, the hero or foe is defeated (it is never made clear whether the vanquished adversary is killed or merely knocked unconscious). Typical of games from this era, and because the game was so short, Karateka did not have a “save game” feature.”
The NES version of Karateka, showing off the smooth character animations
Mechner went on record to confirm that whilst Karateka is going to be revived in a way that nobody could expect, it will still be a video game. He also went on to discuss how he had managed to squeeze in a rather unusual Easter Egg surprise for gamers who bought the original disk version back in the early 1980s, leaving many to wonder if some such tom-foolery will take place in the new project as well:
“The programmer doing copy protection for the game figured out that by messing with the bit table, the whole game could be played upside down, which is really hard to do. We thought it would be hilarious if we burned the flipped version of the game to the other side of the disk. We figured of all the people who buy the game, a couple of them would accidentally put the floppy in upside down. That way, when that person calls tech support, that tech support rep would once in blue moon have the sublime joy of saying, ‘Well sir, you put the disk in upside down,’ and that person would think for the rest of their life that’s how software works. We went do the president of Broderbund to propose this, and we didn’t think they’d go for it, because it would require an assembly line change to actually burn the game onto both sides of the disk, which adds however many cents. So we went in, and he said, ‘Sure. Do it.’”
Did you ever play the original game? Which format(s) do you think it should be revived on? And what are you looking forward to the most in this proposed Karateka sequel? Be sure to let us know your thoughts by posting below…