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Before there was Street Fighter, there was Karate Champ, a two-dimensional, side-view beat-'em-up game that follows the strict rules of tournament karate. Matches are won by getting two points and judges will stop fights and award points as soon as the first hit landed. A moderate hit can earn a player half a point, while a devastating hit earns a full point.
Between matches, players face three different bonus rounds. In the first round the player attempts to break as many boards as possible with a single karate chop. In the second round, the player must evade or destroy various flying objects hurled at him, and in the third round the player must stop a charging bull with a single blow.
Karate Champ employs an innovative, two-joystick method of control. The left joystick controls movement and the right joystick executes fighting moves. When used in tandem, the player may execute more complex maneuvers. Players start the game by practicing in the gymnasium. Arrows at the bottom of screen show players how to move their joysticks in order to do a particular move. After a while, the judge calls out "Stop" and the game begins.
Each match lasts either 30 seconds or until two points are won by a player. If time runs out before two points are won, the match goes to whomever has the most points. There is also an overall point system that keeps track of all the points you earn for winning matches, breaking blocks, and hitting opponents. Easier hits score low overall points and complex hits score high points.
Karate Champ employs synthesized speech, and you will hear the judges call out words including "begin", "judge", "red", "white", and "stop." The game is over when you lose a match to the computer. Some versions of the Karate Champ cabinet are for two players. ~ Michael Schwartz/Joan Dykman, All Game Guide