NES Works: Data East whiffs it again with Karate Champ
Maybe this is a sign from the heavens that the NES wasn't meant for fighting games?
What a turblent road NES Works 1986 has been. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows! And no bump in the road will be more profound than this one, here at the end of the year. Plot out the quality of the NES's final few releases for 1986 and you might as well be doodling an earth-shattering seismograph reading: From the frustrating jank of Ghosts ’N Goblins to the smooth self-assurance of Commando to... this.
Karate Champ, Data East's second NES release (and their first designed specifically for U.S. audiences — the Japanese version wouldn't arrive until the middle of 1988!), takes a landmark arcade work and turns it into... well, a mess, for lack of a better description. Dropped animation frames and completely incoherent collision detection turn this rendition of Karate Champ into something decidedly less than a classic. In fact, it's barely even functional. Data East and dev collaborators SAS Sakata would eventually get their acts together on NES, but it hasn't happened yet.
On the plus side, the final game for 1986 will complete the wild swings in quality by being nothing less than the finest game to be released that year. All the pain of Bandai and Data East and Micronics creations have been worth it for this one grand payoff... but that won't be until next week. Please look forward to it, of course.