In the UK and Ireland, Data East turned a few heads with this one as it was one of the first vertically scrolling beat-em-ups to hit the coin-op scene. And despite its nature of being quite basic by today's standards, it still managed to gain popularity in the arcades. U.S Gold had copped this and in a short matter of minutes, they obtained the license for release on the 8 bits. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have another arcade conversion on our hands. And it wouldn't be the first time that the boys from Birmingham would get a licence. Breakthru and Vigilante would appear in time, and given my previous reviews on those, they weren't exactly favorable. So is their conversion of Kung Fu Master even worth the loading time? TACGR gave it the once over and the diagnosis is coming right up.
Attack of the killer witches!
End of level 1 boss, nice pale blue suit!
You play the part of Lee, a Kung fu master who's girlfriend, Sylvia was kidnapped by his arch nemesis. If he wants her back in one piece, he has to go through the five henchmen of, and that includes himself. If that wasn't enough, they've thrown their hoardes of stooges at you just to try and make their lives easier. So you have your work cut out for you. You're armed with nothing but your fists and your feet. Difficulty increases as the levels progress, throwing bog standard henchmen on the first level, then moving on to dwarves, fire breathing dragons, snakes, butterflies of death and knive throwers. Power ups? Not a chance, you're on your own for this mission. Although you do get a bit of a helping hand when you're good enough to hit 50,000 points, you'll earn yourself an extra life, probably just as well really because you'll find you'll need as many of these as you can get your grubby mits on.
So what did U.S Gold have to offer us with their conversion? Sadly there isn't a lot and what there is, ain't much really. Graphics are quite poor and do nothing to show the CPC's capabilities. Blocky to the extreme, they deteriorate as levels go by. Level 3's bad guy is a classic example of how poorly drawn the sprites are. It might be 1987 but there's really no justification for this at all. Sound too is quite drab with a really annoying clacking sound whenever you punch or kick anyone. The rest of the sound is nothing more than white noise! So bad presentation chops off half it's score but the game doesn't have a lot going for it either. The controls response time is truly horrid, especially when the henchmen grapple you and by the time you've shaken them off, two thirds of your strength has been sapped, sometimes your kick has no effect and heaven forbid you should approach a knifesman should you need to jump to dodge the knives!
Although this dragon is nothing to laugh at.
Kung Fu Master, despite it's drawbacks actually impressed me on the coin-ops but the Amstrad version is really quite sickening, even to watch someone else playing it. What I don't get is how the same programming team behind Rambo: First Blood part 2 and International Karate can then turn around, and produce this? The mind boggles. Thankfully we don't have to suffer the torture of multiloading. But to me, it's just another excuse to avoid the disk as the loading screen is just about the highest point of this turkey. It came out nearly two years after it's arcade parent so nobody can use the rush job excuse for Kung Fu Master's turnout. The C64's version hammered the Amstrad conversion, infuriating quite a number os CPC users as a direct result. I'm boiling this one down to a severe case of negligence on the part of Choice, the twats that U.S Gold picked to undertake this venture. U.S Gold never were good at picking contracters for their licences and this just proves my point.
THE END RESULT:
Appauling Graphics and sound comes close to silence.
Nice Loading screen though!
Barely resembles the arcade.
THE BOTTOM LINE: 54%