Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Star Commentary: DuckTales (NES) Review

Star Commentary: DuckTales (NES) Review
Written: October 29th, 2013
Hi, my name is StarBoy91, or Matthew if we were talking real life, but you can call me either name.  This is an idea that I've had for awhile, but I went ahead and decided to do a commentary on one of my reviews.  Since the behind-the-scenes guys do it for movies or certain episodes of TV series, or even online critics for that matter, I figured why shouldn't I try it?  I mean, it sounds like so much fun to do, that I had to try it for myself.  Bear in mind, this is my first attempt at commentating on my work so the end result may be a bit lopsided.  And if I'm in the mood, I'll be happy to do a commentary on some of my other reviews too.  For my first commentary I will be discussing the NES hit DuckTales, based on the hit Disney animated TV series of the same name.
Wow, has it been roughly eight months already since I submitted the review?  Damn, time sure flies!  Anyway, DuckTales is a show that I thoroughly enjoyed watching when I was little, and even now I still enjoy watching it.  It may have had moments that made zero sense whatsoever (such as how is a tuning fork capable of causing massive shockwaves and how is it that the nephews create hammers, ship parts, and sails completely out of gold, et al), but I love it nonetheless.  It's up there with some of my top favorite Disney animated shows of all time; like The Weekenders, Kim Possible, Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Gravity Falls, Recess, and Wander Over Yonder.  Even though the last one hasn't been out for too long, it's a show that I'm just so enamored with, and it has stolen my heart (I'm almost tempted to call it my number one favorite Disney show, almost; The Weekenders is still top contender in my book).  I mean it is just so pleasant and enjoyable and charming to watch, and I'm getting off-topic I'm sorry.  Matthew, review commentary-ing, not Wander Over Yonder gushing!

Anyway, this game on the NES is very good for being Capcom's first Disney-developed title, even though I wish it was a little longer I still enjoy it once in awhile.  Why did I say "... sort of" on the disclaimer?  Of course there were going to be spoilers in it, considering what I revealed later on and how I revealed it.  I guess I added that thinking that pretty much all are familiar with the show and game when I know that is simply not the case.  That was an oversight on my part, my bad.  Also, wink from the title screen!  ;-)
Gotta love that theme song, even though it's intoxicatingly catchy and will never leave your mind once you listen to it!  XD  That's literally the first thing I think of when this show pops to mind, and it seems to be the case for a lot of people too.  I'm sorry, how do you allow there to be two Louies on the map screen?  That still bothers me to this day; was it a mistake or was it intentional?  It's especially irksome since in the game you actually do see Dewey in his blue garb; was Capcom afraid that his blue outfit would clash with the cyan mechanism in the map room, even though that would not have been the case whatsoever?  I don't get it, and frankly, I don't think I ever will.  =/

Funny story, when I first submitted the review I actually wrote Carl Banks as opposed to the actual name Carl Barks; and after I sent it a friend of mine corrected me on that, and looking back it's rather embarrassing since I should've known that; hell, some of the Italian comics I read with Scrooge McDuck has his name on it!  And as soon as I was told that I went back to review and fixed that, and a lot of the time I try not to change anything after I proofread and submit my reviews, but for this instance it definitely counted.  Once again I'd like to thank my friend for correcting me (if you're reading this, thank you), otherwise I would've said Carl Banks instead.  No lie, when I beat Donald Duck: Quack Attack on the PlayStation One years ago and it showed a message saying that the game was dedicated to him, I read the "R" in his last name as an "N".  I just can't explain that.  *shrug*

God, it's been forever since I've seen the movie!  I remember liking it a lot when I was little, and I remember some parts from it, but other than that I'm drawing a blank.  I was surprised when I found out this movie's overall reception from the critics and public (some even clamored it to be a betrayal to Carl Barks' entire work), 'cause I didn't think it was that bad; and I don't know if it still stands the test of time.  The series, don't get me wrong, it's very good, I just can't confirm the movie's status 'cause I haven't seen it in awhile.  Maybe I'll buy the DVD one day and talk about it when I find the time.  Wow, I'm doing so many new things this year: talking about episodes (still have to talk about a few of them) of Wander Over Yonder in my blog, I watch Gravity in 3D two times, I start a walkthrough guide for one of my favorite games (which I'm sad to report is far from complete); what else could I possibly do?  Discuss movies?  Make an epic fan-art crossover with Scrooge McDuck and Wander together?  The possibilities are endless!
I couldn't find a better screenshot to use for this paragraph than the one I chose.  =(  A lot of the time I go through my video recorded footage, browse, and consider which screenshot I could use to present; and most of the time I try to find ones I consider exciting or even interesting, and for the most part I succeed with that in my reviews, but for the few times that I don't I wonder if I should've chosen a better one.  But when all is said and done if things don't go my way I have no one to blame but myself.

Since I've given both DuckTales and The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse an 8 out of a possible 10 in my blog, some of you are probably wondering which of these two I prefer.  This may sound crazy, but I actually like the former the most.  The latter, on a technical and gameplay scale, is arguably superior to what was presented here, but DuckTales does have something over it: it's not a freakin' dream!  It may be shorter and easier, but at least all the areas took roughly an equal amount of time to beat and the ending was rewarding at best; not to mention I played it first, so I have more fondness for it.  If WayForward plans on Remastering The Magical Quest then it better fix some of the issues that were in the original, like make a worthwhile ending!  >=(  I'm still worked up over that!!  "But it was Capcom's first Mickey Mouse-made game!", bullshit, that's not an excuse!  Sorry, I don't mean to be rude about it, it's just something I've had a problem with since day one.  Please don't be mad at me.  ='(
Speaking of Remastered, another question you might be wondering is "did you know that this game would be reworked and remastered, Star?"  Actually no, I didn't have a single inkling of the new game when I worked on my review, and I think I only found out about it a day or two after I submitted my DuckTales review.  I'll tell you this though, it was a major coincidence, and I was really floored when I discovered the news.  I haven't played it, but then I don't have a Nintendo Wii U yet, but I'll rectify that this Christmas when I ask for it; I'll also get that game too, and as far as I hear that comeback has fared so much better than Mickey Mouse's did with Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.  I'm one of the few people on Earth that don't hate that game.  Funny that.  =(  I'm definitely intrigued by it, though.

Since both DuckTales and Mega Man on the NES were done by Capcom, it's hard not to compare both games' structures.  Even Scroogey looks a little like the Blue Bomber here, and there are similar elements too like the screen scrolling for when you get to a new segment and the fact that you could travel to any part of the island you wanted from the get-go.  The only thing that's different is that you don't take the boss' power-up and make it your own.  The pogo-sticking controls do take a bit to accustom to, but after some time into the game it becomes second nature and less awkward.  =)
As aged as the visuals are, they do have that 8-bit/Capcom charm to them, and some areas look really well-designed from a decoration standpoint; particularly in this one screenshot in that paragraph, look at the rocky walls in the backdrop!  Bubba's in it too, but only in the Himalayas; and Mrs. Beakley also makes an appearance, though it's easy to miss if you rush through it, since she's a one-time character too in the African Mines dropping off sweets at you.  I really like the way the characters were designed.  I hear that in Remastered they give an explanation as to how every non-alien is able to breathe in space, and let me tell you I'd like to hear that very much.

Another thing I heard about the new title, which I honestly think is very inspiring and impressive, is that a lot of the voice actors from the show lent their voices to the characters in that game.  Even Scrooge McDuck's voice actor Alan Young, who's 94 and still alive as we speak, resumed his voice as him!  That.  Is.  Awesome!!!  =D  Even though I've yet to play Remastered I like how they went the distance with their dedication, homage, and faithfulness to both the show and the game, if that makes sense.  God, I am hyped for that title, but more 8-bit DuckTales review commentary-ing.
While it's not much to talk about, I'm positive there are some of you that are wondering why I keep changing colors between each paragraph or why I put emoticons after certain sentences.  The reason for the former is because I want to make it fun to read and literally colorful (just one color is okay, no offense to those that do use that method though, that's just personal preference).  And when it comes to my reviews I want to make them informative but I also want to make them entertaining as well, and the reason for the emoticons is because I want to give my reviews a little charm and personality.  I also like to be friendly and approachable when it comes to my reviews; along the way there may have been moments when I sounded harsh, but I largely focus on being friendly and approachable; another thing about my reviews is that I try to make them as accessible as possible with little to no swearing in it (I try to keep my reviews PG at best, and if I do use colorful words--or in rare cases spoilers in a non-spoiler-based review--then I just "hide" them by highlighting it in the same color, like you saw earlier in the commentary, but that does not happen too often).  =)

Oh, the Moon theme is just a-freakin'-mazing to listen to, it's one of my favorite NES songs of all time despite its simplicity in terms of notes, but the way that is executed is just breathtaking.  No one would dare talk about this game and not bring that up.  If you haven't listened to it, then what are you doing reading here?  YouTube that song and bask in all its glory!  =)  And yeah, the title theme was composed too, sans the words, and it's just as addicting to listen to.  "DuckTales!  Whoo-whoo!!"  XD  "It will never leave!  It will never leave!!!"  Man, do I love that Nostalgia Critic quote, 'cause it's so true!
...  Geez, no pressure for this game here!  *laughing*  I mean look at the way I just sound out the game's few shortcomings all in that paragraph, and in such a calm and collected way too.  "Love/hate relationship" with DuckTales's difficulty, that still sounds right.  And, again, it's not necessarily bad if a game is easy so long as it's fun, and fortunately for this game's case it's a hell of a lot of fun, for the vast majority of it.  There are respawnings in this game, and while I won't say it's too bad here, it does get a bit annoying, particularly in the Himalayas with those high hopping goat-like creatures (I know they're not goats, but they do look similar) or how about the robotic ducks that try to punch their way through small gaps in the Moon.  But, look at the bright side: at least no enemy pops out of the blue if you turn, turn back, and turn like in the first two NES Ninja Gaiden titles.  =)  It is a shame that Capcom did not take full advantage of the difficulty settings when it came to challenge, 'cause otherwise this would've been a better game.  The final stage leading up to the final boss is the same exact one in Transylvania, and to its credit until you decipher its secret path it is a bit tricky to find your way to Magica de Spell.  The only downside is that once you know the trick you're not likely to forget it anytime soon.  =(
But at least the game is very fun to play while it lasts.  Could there have been more done to it?  Of course, but aside from its flaws it's pretty good.  And it definitely is a testament to how good a licensed game can be when put in the right hands, and Capcom has proven that time and time again...um, well, for the most part.  Tag is a nod to the one from Alien but I wanted to make my own witty phrase for that screenshot.  The only characters that weren't seen in the game however are Gyro Gearloose and Duckworth, though I do imagine it would be pretty humorous.  DuckTales is still a fun time, and it makes me want to try some more 8-bit Disney Capcom, like Chip'n Dale: Rescue Rangers for instance, since I'm curious about that one.  I'm definitely glad I played this game, and I cannot wait to play Remastered.  And, to be honest, this is actually one of my favorite reviews that I've done in the all the years that I've been on my blog.  =)  And I'm still proud of the way it turned out.
Oh yeah, this joke!  *laughing*  Essentially one of the things I planned to do in this review was talk about how DuckTales is still a good show, and how grateful I was that the game was based on a show that I still liked, stating that in all the years that I've been watching Disney shows I never saw one I personally disliked, leading up to the big reveal; Disney shows I don't like!  Ahhh!!!  I know, not a great collage, but I just wanted to express my dislike for certain things in a clever way.  As much as I don't like Ultimate Spider-Man, I don't think it's God-awful, and in fact it's the least bad of all the bad shows (in my opinion) I highlighted; its main downside is that it's a Spider-Man show for beginners, though it largely comes across as something to keep younger kids quiet for a half hour (in my opinion, and that's not what a Spider-Man anything should be; it should entertain all ages), but it does have good things going for it like great designs and animation.  I'm just not a fan of it, that's all.  The less we talk about Fish Hooks the better, since I really loathe that show to bits; I cannot believe that Disney deems it acceptable for viewers, let alone children.  Truly... awful!  I still have some mental scars left from watching it long ago.

But I respect people's opinions, and I do acknowledge that there may be those that are like "Nooo, what are you talking about??  [insert show here] is not bad, it's not terrible!"  If there are people that like these then that's great, good for them; I'd like to know why, and I may or may not understand the reason one would like these shows, but to each their own.  Everything, no matter what medium or how good or bad they are, has their audience; I'm just not the audience for those shows I highlighted.  One thing I still kick myself over, though probably not too much, is not including Mr. Young in the collage; but then, seeing as it's so bland and juvenile, maybe I shouldn't be too hard on myself.  The one thing that stands out about the show is that there's a pink-ish/violet-ish hue consuming the whole setting, and I'm not entirely certain why that is, though since it's a bad Disney show, I don't care.  Thanks to years of watching TV I've since learned to avoid all the stuff I think are bad or lethally bad and watch the stuff I find good, decent, or watchable at best (no matter what channel it's on or what company was involved).  Some things you just learn the hard way.  =(

And honestly it kills me inside since one of the things I grew up on was Disney, and I'm still a supporter of theirs (the good stuff, not the bad).  How is it that for all the great stuff they release (Wander Over Yonder, DuckTales, The Weekenders) they always find a way to balance it all out with putrid crap pandering to the least common denominator (Fish Hooks, Dog with a Blog, Lab Rats)?  And it's not just shows, it's movies too (let 2013 be an example: what did I think of Oz the Great and Powerful?  I thought it was good; not great, but good.  What did I think of The Lone Ranger?  I thought it was bad, and honestly it's the worst movie I've seen in theatres this year, and aside from the exciting final fifteen minutes--too little too late, there, Gorey--the movie was insufferably long, disappointing, and unenjoyable; I'm definitely not seeing it again...willingly).  And anytime I see something of theirs that I end up thinking is bad it hurts me deeply because they have done better in the past and I know that in their best they can do better!  I could never hate on Disney, and I overlook their bad stuff because I know they do good stuff too; and one of my biggest fears is that one day they'll release something that is so awful that it will make me give up on them altogether... and that's a world I don't want to live in.  ='(  I'm sorry, I've made this commentary very depressing all of a sudden (and I thought my Karate Champ review was a downer; and don't worry I'll whip up a commentary for that one too before I release my Super Mario Bros. 2 review).  But it's all down to personal opinion when it comes to these things; different strokes for different folks, y'know.
*laughing*  Just when you thought you were safe from having to listen to the theme, here it is!!!  XD  Think of it as either a reward or a punishment for reading the whole review.  "Dammit, Star, how could you be so evil?!"  In my defense, if you were enamored with the show when you were little and still like it now, and have a great likeness for it and its theme, and have heard  Nostalgia Critic's infamous phrase regarding said theme, you'd probably have a hard time resisting the urge to do this too if you were reviewing a game based off said show.  =3  Or, I just threw the video on there for fun!  ...maybe!  ;-)
P.S.: Still have not watched Crash & Bernstein and am better off for it.  Thank you trailers for hinting at me that it would be very awful ahead of time so I wouldn't have to watch it.  =)

P.S. 2: Ugh, forget what I said about Kickin' It being an okay show, 'cause it's no longer okay.  It sucks!  You want to know why?  Because the writers have the gall to insult the viewers by making a promo of an episode before it even aired, surrounding "bird poop storm".  I am not even freaking joking, it actually said that, and once that's happened I was like: "That's it!  I'm done!  No more of Kickin' It for me; the writers clearly think everyone is unintelligent to think people will get a laugh out of that!"  So I didn't watch the episode when it came out, and I stopped watching the show altogether.

Shake It Up is a show I have a like/dislike relationship with, its got good stuff going for it but there's also bad stuff in it too that prevents it from being solid.  A.N.T. Farm is so conscientiously dumb in terms of dialogue and writing, and normally I would be offended by that, but for some odd reason I'm not; I'm actually fascinated (but not for the right reasons) by that: it makes me wonder what mindset these writers are on to actually craft dialogue and writing so unearthly juvenile and inane that it somehow manages to be presented in this program.  That's not to say it's a good show, mind you, nor do I find myself watching it often, but it's truly curious viewing.  As for Jessie, the more I watch it the more I dislike it.  It hasn't gotten to the point that I hate it yet, but I'm surprised that hasn't happened yet considering how it tries to be adult but comes across as childish as a result, not to mention the whole "We need to youthanize you, tee hee!"  "What???" (fearful, thinking the other person said "euthanize").  Of all the tasteless and charmless homonymous lines I have ever heard in my entire life, in a kid's program, I do not approve!!!  DX<  I'm so angry by that, I want to make a special rant on that scene!  But not now, in the future, but not now.

I still don't care that much about Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana.  Oh, I've seen those shows, and I would be more than happy to poke fun of and pick apart everything that's wrong with either of them, but aside from that, I don't care.  =|

P.S. 3: As I always say, to each their own.  Every show, no matter how bad, has their audience, and I know there are some people that are likely to disagree with my viewpoint (or agree with them, either one is fine, so long as they're not mean about it), so let's agree to disagree.  Watch what you personally enjoy.

P.S. 4: Seriously Capcom, was the SNES just not an option for you?  =/  Nintendo's 16-bit console only had six Disney-licensed Capcom games (including the then SFC-exclusive Mickey & Donald: Magical Adventure 3); they couldn't have made DuckTales 2 for that format instead of the slowly dying NES?  Also, why two years after the show stopped running?  I fail to see their logic in this one.

P.S. 5: It may not have done good with many gamers, but you have to give DreamRift some credit: they did at least try.  It may have failed to live up to the expectations of its spiritual predecessor Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse but I honestly think it paid good homage to it.  Also, Scrooge McDuck's attacking method from the NES game and the fact that he and Mickey are in the same game (for the second time; the first time was Japan-only during the SFC years) are at least worth praising.  Personally I liked the game, but I do understand why others didn't.

Well, this has been my commentary, and I hope you found it entertaining.  =)  And I hope I didn't drag on with it either, because this was my first ever one!  O_O  Now if you excuse me, I have to fantasize the perfect crossover fanart between the richest duck in the world and the friendliest face in outer space...  Take care!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Karate Champ (NES) Review

Written: October 9th-10th, 2013
Alternate Title: Karate Dō [|O|]
Year: 1986 | Developed and Published by: Data East USA
DISCLAIMER: Review will sound uncertain, a tad pessimistic, and despondent throughout most of it (it's hard to do that without sound cues); attempts at entertainment here may vary or not work all together; may contain ellipses; may contain a small bit of harshness
It's the beginning, all rght... the beginning of my
letdown  =(
Well... it had to happen some time.  =(  I knew that one of these days I would review a bad game, it was inevitable.  I just did not realize that today would be that day, and I never would have imagined that it would be this game.  But I just have to face the music; I just cannot fathom and believe it.  ...  Okay; in the 1980's there was this craze with the martial arts and fighting sports, represented in movies, video games, and/or TV series such as The Karate Kid movies, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, Jordan Mechner's classic video game Karateka, et al.  Other video game developers were quite fascinated by this subject, so it should come as no surprise that there would be combat games based on it.  One of them was a 1984 one-on-one arcade fighter named Karate Champ which was released by Data East and developed by Technōs Japan (of Kunio Kun fame).
Our combatants bow their heads before
engaging in a fight (likely out of shame for
this title)
The coin-op did well enough to garner a few re-releases, some as part of compilations in the early to mid-2000's, but shortly after the arcade original was released there was a follow-up (sort of) available in a Player vs. Player adaptation exclusive to arcades; which in turn is where this 8-bit adaptation was based on.  Only thing is: Technōs was not at all involved this time around, as this time it was all Data East.  I recall having played the original arcade game for the first time nearly a decade ago in an arcade located near a beach in New Hampshire as my relatives and I had fun in the Sun, and it was nice to visit once in a while.  My impression of the game was that it was decent, and when I found out some time later that it received an NES port, I was of course excited since there was a version I could access all the time; so when I saw it at Game Crazy (back when it used to be around) I decided to buy it.  Now, I was younger when I played the game, and back then I thought it was really fun and good to play; recently I've replayed it, and I'm sad to report that I don't think this NES game has aged all that well.  =(  How do I make this game sound entertaining?  I don't know if I can make my review of this game sound entertaining...

Kick to the face
Okay, so in this game there is a sensei who is training a couple of students in the art of karate.  ...  Yeah, I know, it doesn't sound all that exciting; I normally don't do this, but what the hell, I'll just create my own plot for this game.  In the not too distant past there is a Ralph Macchio who has been cloned by an eeeeevil scientist, working undercover for blank-faced trainer Not Mr. Miyagi.  White Ralph Macchio (genuine) must compete in a series of karate events with Red Ralph Macchio (clone) in order to decide who must roam around the world and who must remain.  The victor will be set free in his origin place, where life can continue with Elisabeth Shue, waiting to embrace him once more (unless it's the clone).  The loser, on the other hand, will become Not Mr. Miyagi's prisoner forever, and eventually get serious punishment many years later by voicing the teenaged mouse Timmy in the bad bad animated DTV sequel The Secret of N.I.M.H. 2: Timmy to the Rescue.  ...  It may not be a highly original plot, or even that great of one either... but it's definitely more interesting than "a sensei trains two karate pupils"... you have to give it that at least.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Choppiness
Karate Champ is a one-on-one fighting game, and seeing as it's a karate game there are of course going to be a variety of moves to dish out (try any button-direction combination).  The moves will range from kicks to punches, whether it be high, medium, or low.  However (save for when you jump up by pressing up), should you wish to jump forwards or backwards you'll have to press both the A and B buttons at the same time (since the NES controller only has two main buttons),... in a somewhat similar way to River City Ransom.  As awkward as it was in that game, it was understandable seeing as both buttons individually had different actions (one to punch and one to kick).  In Karate Champ it's a different story altogether since the B button is used to attack to the left while the A button is used to attack to the right (depending where you face, it might either be in front of you or behind you);... so it's like Timber only there are no trees to chop down.  There is one move which will let you change directions, which is useful, though it doesn't exactly say much for this game (and I'll get to why soon).

I'd make an animated .gif file showcasing how
silly this two-framed victory animation is, but I
think this screenshot speaks for itself...  =|
The visuals for this NES game are of surprisingly mixed results.  On one hand, the diverse designs of each settings have a fresh look and feel, and some range from rather simplistic-looking designs (the 4th stage with a red background alongside black silhouetted palm trees) or fascinatingly detailed ones (like the 1st, 3rd, and 6th stages, for instance).  On the other hand, they're all static backgrounds with no animations at all in the backdrop (therefore it's not really all that interesting), and as interesting as some areas look some of them can look rather cluttered sometimes.  The other downside is that a few of the stages are largely colored red (like in the 4th, 5th, and 7th stages), and a lot of the times they clash with CPU's color palette (or adversely affect gamers with really sensitive eyesight).  I have to give Data East credit though... the areas rarely look the same.

The animations... uhhh, yeah I should talk about them: they are so choppy that it's rather embarrassing.  =$  A lot of the fighting moves have at least two frames of animation, with about a second and a half's waiting time inbetween; but the result is so awful that I can't put it to words.  The winning animation alone is hysterical at just two frames but not for the right reasons (two frames + little to no waiting time inbetween = swift jumping jacks).  The fighters and sensei look fine, but it's their animation sequences that kill me.  A lot of NES games had a limited amount of sprites to create an animation, but at least in those games there was enough to at least make a sound animation sequence (with proper timing to make it right); but this?  This is just laziness; a lot of your games had superior animation than this, Data East.  The Atari 2600 and Intellivision video game library as a whole had more decent animation than this!  X(  What happened?!
Time for a break; I think it's been warranted for now.  Here's some random thoughts:
You know, I'm all for a challenge if I feel that I can take it (as long as I deem it acceptable and not morally repugnant).  =)  For example, I'll be happy to play ActRaiser 2 on all three difficulty settings all the way to the end; I've done it once before (and believe me it was no easy task), and I'm confident that I'll be able to pull it off again.  A lot of people find it to be overwhelming in terms of difficulty, and yeah it can get frustrating at times but it's by no means impossible if you stick with it.  All one needs to last throughout that game is courage, commitment, perseverance, lots of time and practice, close observation skills, paying attention to the enemies' and bosses' strategies, a strong will and heart, moving gradually so the enemies don't all come attacking you at one, and most essential of all, the inability to give up.  I know it sounds very much like a herculean task, but if you stay with it to the end (particularly on Hard mode) I promise it will feel rewarding in the end.  =)  It's not exactly the hardest game I've ever played, and it's most definitely not for everyone, but it's still a game I find very underrated in its own terms.
That was one of the examples, but I don't just look for a challenge when it comes to video games; I will even seek a challenge that I rarely even attempt... liiiiiike listening to a theme for an extended amount of time among other things.  =)  Um, hang on a second...  *searches on YouTube*  Whoa!
"Can you survive 21 minutes of the Wander Over Yonder intro?"  Hell yeah!  Now that sounds like a challenge!!  Bring it on!!!  =D
~21 Minutes and 13 Seconds later~
.....................  That.... may not have been the smartest move I've ever made....  Is the theme still playing or are my ears just ringing?  o.o  Don't get me wrong, I love Craig McCracken's animated show Wander Over Yonder to death, and the theme song is fun, quirky and catchy.  Thing is... it may have been a little too catchy.  I took on that challenge and I survived all that time... but as a result the theme is stuck in my head, and I hope it doesn't last forever...  It could've been worse: had I listened to the DuckTales theme song for twenty-one minutes (where it's undeniably catchy), it would've been playing in my head forever (never going away) and I don't know if my sanity would've remained intact if I did that instead (because as Nostalgia Critic once said, "It will never leave!").
It's nice to take on a challenge once in awhile, but I'm not going to take on all of them; just as many as I can possibly take, though next time I should probably be more careful and think more clearly about it before attempting it.
And now we're back!  I hope I find some way of offsetting the theme currently playing in my head...  Back to Karate Champ I go.  =(
Oh no, Not Mr. Miyagi's got his top all wet!  =(
Let us now dive in to the music aspect of this game.  I cannot confirm it (the theme is playing in my head) but from what I recall a large portion of the game was deadly silent with sound effects being the only sound.  This is a fighting game, yes, but to hear absolutely nothing in the background as you combat your opponent... that's just bland.  Realistic maybe, but bland.  =(  The only exceptions are the title, the area interlude,  the victory, and the losing theme; but they are so brief that it gives a feeling of disconnect.  The silence is so deafening that I would suggest playing a song during the match.
The jumping back kick is my secret winning
move (when my enemy has little to no time to react)
You cooooould listen to the "Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting" song; karate and kung fu may not exactly be one and the same, but they're both martial arts-related soooo I figured that they'd count.  You coooould listen to a riveting action theme from one of the great James Horner's many soundtracks; whether it be something from Krull, Aliens, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Radio, Titanic, or even the beloved '80s classic The Land Before Time among other things.  ...I don't know how you can make a dramatic soundtrack about five young dinosaurs learning to work together in order to survive make this fighting game sound epic but... *shrugs*  I'm sure you could find a way somehow.  You cooould listen to the ever so famous Mortal Kombat theme, you cooould listen to the dubstep from Muse heard at the end of World War Z; the movie may not have been all that good (even the gorier uncut version) but... at least that made the whole experience worth it.  ...  =(  ...  You could... play an action theme from the late Jerry Goldsmith, one of the greatest movie composers of all time.  You could play the boss theme from The 7th Saga.  I suppose that regardless of what you choose to do, it won't change the fact that this game will be the same no matter what; the music would make things more exciting and engaging, but other than that nothing is truly different.  =(  There is a time for literally quiet moments when it comes to certain video games, but this Karate Champ as a whole is not one of them.  Again, I can't confirm that; the theme is currently stuck in my head!
If you're going to justify a feeling of silence, then you had better be a powerful and breathtakingly epic hour and a half-long tensely suspenseful sci-fi survival thriller that takes place in all outer space as the main character tries to return home through impossible odds!
Poster image from the Rotten Tomatoes website
Gravity is a wonderful experience, by the way, my personal vote for Best Movie of 2013!  If you're going to watch it in theatres, then go see it on IMAX or in 3D, 'cause it's really that damn good and you'll be getting the full experience that way!  I'm glad I did!
The sound effects are serviceable, but nothing to write home about.  The sounds consist of "knock out" sounds, "shattering" sounds (there's this inbetween stage event involving flower vases), and there are even voice clips whenever the sensei speaks ("Begin!", "Point!", "Stop!", "Judge!").  While they certainly do sound impressive for the time, they sound rather muffled.
Oooh, right in the elbow!  >.<
In each stage the goal is to defeat the opponent, and in order to get to the next stage you must win two times.  There are two full-point dots and one half-point dot, and should both of the former be earned than you'll be winning one score.  Each score event must be won in a matter of thirty seconds, and should the time run out then the sensei will make a judgment call on who gets the point (if one got more than the other, then that one will gain the point).  If both fighters are tied as far as full- or half-points are concerned, then the sensei will reward the point to your opponent.  Yeah, that's not exactly fair-sounding, is it?  =/  Not that it makes a difference truly, since now I'm going to cover this game's most fatal flaw: there is simply no substance to back it all up and the amount of structure feels marginally low.  Another problem is that it's so mindnumbingly easy; the challenge is almost non-existent, the CPU doesn't feel like it's trying half the time, and many of the battles can be won in the same move when properly sequenced (match begins, character jumps ahead, performs a jumping back kick, computer goes down).  Even when that doesn't work, it'll still be easy to take him down with one of your many moves when they land on him (oh he'll try to evade it, but it won't last forever).  I don't know about you, but I really hate it when cheap tactics are like the only solution to win battles (the final boss from the first two Bonk games come to mind), and while in Karate Champ it's not the only way to get the job done, it is the way you'll find yourself ending the battles a lot of the time.
Silhouette palm trees on the horizon
The scoring system I don't feel is balanced well enough.  Sometimes you'll be getting full points while other times you'll be getting only half of them, and it's never really specified how this amount is earned.  I'd say that it depends on the move you perform or how long it takes to K.O. the opponent, except that in either situation it could go either way.  =(  Inbetween stages is a mini-game where the object is knock vases that will fly by your direction (whether it be above, ahead, behind, or below).  Just one vase knocking you is enough to send you to the following round; timing is crucial here, otherwise it won't work.  Another reason it won't work: the collision detection here is terrible.  During the vase event if you try a move and it's several pixels away from you (say the length of your character's hand) then your character will be knocked out as if it was done by thin air.  How... do you justify that?  That is simply inexcusable!  The matches themselves have moments like this sometimes; sometimes one will be knocked out once contact was made, while a few times it will take a few pixels' distance to do the job.  =(
From... what you're reading it makes it sound like it's the worst video game ever when the truth is it's so far from it.  I used to enjoy this game when I was younger, but having played it again and discovering its flaws upon closer inspection, it dawned on me that it wasn't as good as I once thought it was.  It's been so long since I played the original coin-op version, so I cannot make a comparison to it.  The visuals are a mixed mess, the animations are downright shoddy (which is embarrassing considering that there were games before it that had at least solid animation), the absolute silence makes it feel uneventful (again, that's from what I remember; the theme is still stuck in my head!), the controls are choppy, the same mini-game after every stage feels repetitive, the structure and substance really needed to be expanded, the collision detection is at times unreasonable, the scoring system doesn't make sense, the CPU doesn't feel like a real competitor (it can be played with two players; I haven't tried it, but I bet it would be more fun and engaging than against a CPU that doesn't try), pulling off the same move many times to get a victory limits the replay value, and to make things worse, there is no replay value!  =(  There are many better alternatives to Karate Champ for the NES as far as I'm concerned; Street Fighter is a good option, World Heroes is another good option, Mortal Kombat, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Samurai Shodown, Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, even King of Fighters.  Hell,
Konami's version in Track & Field II was better developed than this (not that I care about that sports compilation, I'm just saying; the original was already great enough, did we need a sequel?)!  It was still a bit awkward but I recognized that it had structure and substance to it.  I know that karate and taekwondo are technically not 100% the same... but they're both martial arts-related, so I figured that it was okay to group together.

I know what you must be thinking: surely there are better ways of spending your time?  And you're right, I would be better off doing better things than play NES Karate Champ=(  I could be making my review of Gravity (which I personally feel is the best movie I've seen in my life); I could... contemplate ordering the full The Weekenders animated series on DVD (why I haven't done that yet seeing as I still love that show is beyond me); I could be watching an episode of Craig McCracken's Wander Over Yonder, which always ends up putting me in a good mood (I'm also convinced that it's the best feel-good show I've seen in a long time); I could be doing a movie-marathon at home with the Indiana Jones series (I haven't really ever started movie marathons before, but... it sounds like it could be fun); I could be jumpstarting on my Christmas list and ask for EarthBound on the SNES (since I don't yet have a Nintendo Wii U... unless I could ask for that instead, I'm not certain how to plan it); I could even be making a concerted effort to read 1984 again (as much as I personally dislike that novel, I have to give credit where credit is due; it's solidly written, it's got an eerily strange atmosphere to it, it's built on solid structure plus there is lots of substance to it; Karate Champ has little to no structure and absolutely zero substance to it).

I could do that, but then I probably should consider myself lucky, for I could be doing lots worse than this game instead.  I could be watching the 2000 badly animated Titanic movie right now (it's not just the animation about it that's bad, many things about it are, in particular the rapping dog); I could be watching my most hated Peanuts special of all (It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown; unlike most specials, this one to me always felt bland, charmless, and meanspirited); I could be watching Batman and Robin, the undisputed contender for worst Batman movie of all time (corny silliness, once acceptable for Batman in the '60s, was no longer okay by the time the movie came out in 1997); I could be ... subjecting myself to two and a half hours in the theatres watching a heavily and tonally confused movie that's too long for it's own good where the main character was a total wussy that didn't man up until the last half hour (for shame, Gore Verbinski, turning the Lone Ranger, one of the most timeless characters of all time, into a complete joke!  It's no surprise that the movie bombed!); I could be considering ordering Mario is Missing! for the SNES on eBay right now (here's hoping my curiosity doesn't get the best of me for this one); I cooould be watching a highly inane sitcom about a dog with badly-CG'd lip movement who goes on the computer to share thoughts and "morals" in his blog right now (really Disney, you thought this was a good idea?  Then again, they also thought an animated acid trip show about high school fish with zero charm with neither rhyme nor reason to anything about it, heavy pessimism, perpetuating clique stereotypes, ability to create countless mental scars [don't worry, most of them have gone away since I stopped watching it], meanspirited attitude, confused messages, intense amounts of disturbed creepiness on every level was a decent idea... and look how freaking well that turned out to be!!!  >=P  Thank God I've stopped watching bad shows and started avoiding them altogether for awhile now; it's either something I consider good, decent, or watchable on TV for me or nothing, no matter what channel it's on).  Compared to all these things I've listed in this paragraph, Karate Champ is a better option.

I don't say this to sound mean (which I worry that it may be what it's coming across as), I say this because I care.  =(  Yes, I could be thinking of better stuff to do than what I'm currently doing right now when it comes to bad medium, but on the other hand I could be doing much worse stuff than this and consider that maybe what I'm doing is actually a favorable option.  I like to talk about video games, I like to enlighten readers on games they may have played before or have never played but are curious about ; I like to share the positives and the negatives; I like to give a thorough analysis and add some thought-provoking statements; I like to be informative while also being entertaining, friendly and approachable about it.  I do all these things because I don't want to just be an informative reviewer, I want to be a friend.  =(  A friend who likes looking at both sides when it comes to games he recommends or not; a friend who might agree or disagree but respects the others' opinions regardless; a friend who understands and sometimes gets a little carried away (when it comes to certain moments) while his heart is in the right place; a friend.  I'm sorry, I'm making own review unentertaining, I feel bad about that.  I just cannot believe that I've finally reviewed a game that scored below a 5, that's all.

Red: "Oh, no you don't!  I've seen through your
trick and it's not going to work again on me!"
So, Karate Champ by the end of the day, is a game that I consider bad, but do I recommend it still?  =(  By the end of the day Karate Champ's biggest enemy was time itself, and while at one point I thought it to be fun I now consider it to be bland and repetitive; even so, there is an audience for this game.  If you're a collector, a retro aficionado, a retrophile, or whatever name you like to call yourself when it comes to retro gaming, it's fun for a few minutes (and I imagine that it's even better with two players) but it's not a title you'll find yourself going back to over and over.  Data East definitely tried, at least I think they did, it just did not end well.  As for everyone else,... don't bother.  =(
I'm so bummed that it's finally come down to this, and I don't know if my review was at all entertaining for you considering how less enthusiastic it was.  I've finally reviewed a bad game... how can I possibly offset this unfortunate event?  =(

Image from Wikipedia
... Okay!!
( >'.')>TO EACH THEIR OWN<('.'< )
P.S.: I still feel awkward for that thumb down icon I drew.  =$
P.S. 2: My review of Super Mario Bros. 2 will be a lot more optimistic, happy and enthusiastic than this one was, I promise.  I apologize if you found yourself not liking the review.
P.S. 3: For those that are curious: yes, I actually have listened to all twenty one minutes and thirteen seconds of that video; and while it's catchy, at least it's not intoxicatingly catchy like the DuckTales theme.  I still like that show, I'm just saying.
P.S. 4: Speaking of Wander Over Yonder, the newest episode ("The Prisoner") is this Friday, and I still haven't shared my thoughts on last week's episode "The Pet" (the Aliens-like episode) yet!!  D=  I love the show  (one of my favorites),... but I just had to make a commitment to share my thoughts on every episode that came up, didn't I?  When I did become such a procrastinator?  =(
P.S. 5: Any time both fighters are very close together, there are some flicker moments.  That's something I've found peculiar for some time.
Thank you for reading my review, please leave a comment and I hope you all have a great day.  Take care.