Portable Perks: Karateka
First of all, let me assure you that what you’re reading is definitely a Portable Perks segment and not a Throwback Thursday piece. I know, I know, Karateka came out sometime in the 80s, but hey! It came out recently for Android and iOS recently so I guess we can let this slip just this once! Apologies in advance if I start gushing with nostalgia on this post. It’s simply unavoidable!
HAI YAH! I mean, Karateka! (for mobile!) I just love all the little touches that the mobile game brought over. Jordan Mechner knows his audience well for this app and he didn't pull any punches to kick you back to the DOS era of gaming. Once you start the game, you're greeted with a black screen and some scratching noises. Those who grew in the mid 90’s and up will not recognize that sound, but this neon wearing 80’s kid knew what those sounds meant: it was the noise you heard when your floppy drive was reading the disk while loading the game.
I would never catch myself saying this but, my God, I love the loading sequence of this game.
Then you are greeted with a short intro and you start the game all in its CGA glory, complete with lines and all to simulate a CRT monitor. In the options you can even select what kind of color display you want (Green, Amber, Color), to further stimulate your nostalgia on what kind of monitor you had back in the day.
All the audio, if I can remember correctly, is all original from the game in 1984. You can’t get any more retro than this. Your super high tech smartphone’s sound processor is reduced to the simple beep blops an onboard PC speaker made back when everyone owned a 286 computer. And it never sounded better.
Of course, there’s also the game. It plays like the original, which was and still is brutally hard, but with a few modern tweaks like the ability to replay from your last victory if you died while fighting an opponent. This only unlocks after you enter the temple/dungeon thingy (I never really knew what Mr. Karateka was entering). This is a welcome addition if you’ve always dreamed of finishing the game, but couldn’t because you kept on dying and had to start back from the beginning of the original game. It’s a bit more “forgiving” now.
Karateka is available for $1 in both the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store. It’s a very small price to pay for a jump back to the most bodacious era of our generation.