Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kung-Fu Master (Arcade, 1984)

Looking for a game to play that was released in 1984, I found that my choices were pretty limited. Originally I was going to go with Paperboy, an arcade game that I enjoyed the one or two times I played it as a kid. Unfortunately, emulating that game is more or less impossible since it had a special handlebar controller. From there it just became a matter of finding something that was playable, both from a technical standpoint and a... playability standpoint. I settled on another arcade game, Kung-Fu Master. This game... isn't good. The NES can't arrive soon enough.

Oh...my...God. One Unknown Guy is bad enough, but SEVERAL?

An Unknown Guy runs onto the screen and throws a knife at Thomas, but he quickly ducks, clearly unconcerned with Silvia standing behind him. "MY EYEEEEE!!!" says Silvia moments later.

As if stabbing her in the eye wasn't bad enough, they kidnap her. Thomas is too busy in Cat Stance over there to notice. Dude!

At this point, our hero roams the streets and picks up pieces of paper. They should have called this game Hobo Master.

I bet this game is better with two players. I didn't have that possibility available when I played it, so I just loaded up on credits. Mashed "5" a lot, I did. How do you like my infinite quarters, game? This was later ported to the NES as Kung-Fu. Maybe that version is better.

For some reason "Life" is also in red. Who are these five sons of The Devil and what do they want with Silvia? And why would they kidnap a Kung-Fu Master's girlfriend? Why not just kidnap a Regular Brodude's girlfriend? Newsflash, Unknown Guys: "Walking big" with a tapout shirt on is a lot less of a threat than throat punches.

This game consists of five scintillating levels! They all look just like this. Actually, the game is one hallway long, you just repeat that hallway five times. Hey, that's still an improvement over Mario Bros having one room.





But watch out! If the bad guys catch you, they will... air-hump you to death? Oookay then.

After successfully crossing a hallway full of sexual predators, our hero locks horns with the first boss. It's an easy fight, moving on quickly.


Now the evil Unknown Guys have vicious children in their ranks? This is a truly sad development, right up there with Big Boss' army of child soldiers in the Metal Gear saga.

Protip: When battling children in Kung-Fu Master, be sure to duck down before punching!

The second stage is some bullshit. It's the hardest stage in the game because the enemies all suddenly take off 50% of a full life meter when they hit you. Get through it, and you get to fight a relatively easy boss that throws boomerangs. Though by the time you get here you probably don't have any health left. Of course, losing sends you back to the beginning of stage 2. And yet, every stage after this is much easier than stage 2. Great game design.

Thomas is coming right away! Just what every woman wants from a man.

The third boss is the love-child of Ivan Drago and Big Bird. KICK TO THE RIBS!

The fourth level has vicious attack butterflies to watch out for. While they are beautiful and majestic, they also want nothing more than to send Kung-Fu Master to HELL.

Fourth boss: Teleporting Rat-Man. This is the only part of the game that is at all complicated. For some reason, kicks do no damage to him, but sometimes punches do. As I basically ignored the existence of punches up to this point, I had a tough time with this fight at first.

And here is the final boss, Charlie Sheen as M. Bison. He likes to block more than attack. Still, a tricky battle follows, and the key is to alternate between high and low strikes and stay on the offense so he can't retaliate.

Thomas is reunited with Silvia... and immediately comes.

You're telling me.

The Three Decade Project game list  

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Power Blade
Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1


  1. Were there really any Kung Fu masters in 1984 named Thomas?

  2. What kind of ending is that? What happened next?!

    1. I actually have the answer to this question. After the ending, the game loops back to the beginning (like lots of arcade games from that time) and puts you back at the first stage. The ending here actually leads you into the loop, as if to say that the bad guys got Silvia again so Thomas had to swing back into action. Or if you, like me, don't want to continue playing, you can just turn it off after the ending screen and assume that it's referring to how Silvia soon left Thomas for letting her get stabbed in the eye, and Thomas then went on to become the inspiration for The Lonely Island's "Jizz In My Pants".

    2. These were the dark days, all right.
      I'm still shocked you were fighting sons of Satan.

    3. And to think... when I was looking for things to play, this was the best game I could find from 1984. A year later Nintendo flew into town like Gokou on a cloud to save everyone.