Retro Game: Karateka on the Apple IIe

When we got our first computer, a brand new Apple IIe, one of the first games we played (and one of the favourites) was Karateka.  After many hours of playing Kung Fu on the NES, this seemed to be a logical choice for our first foray into computer gaming.

Karateka was truly a groundbreaking game for its time, both in the graphics and also the music/sounds. A side-scrolling adventure with three levels, Karateka was both forgiving and unforgiving. Forgiving, because you could walk back from an enemy to regain health; almost like starting the battle over again.  Unforgiving, because with only one life, a single mistake would send you all the way back to the start.

The story of Karateka revolves around the unnamed Karateka, who sets out to rescue the princess Mariko.  She has been captured by the evil warlord Akuma.  Along with his many henchmen and pet eagle/hawk, he keeps his compound heavily guarded.

The gameplay, along with the graphics and sounds is also relatively advanced for a game of that era.  Although the movement is only in a side-scrolling mode (ie. no vertical movement or jumping) there are a variety of moves available.  In addition to moving forwards and backwards in your fighting stance, you can also run forwards (just remember to stop running before you encounter an enemy, or receive an instant KO) and you can punch or kick in either high, mid or low, which gives you six different attack options.  There is even an option to bow before or after fighting, should you wish to be polite.

Some of the mechanics of the game are still in use in today's games.  The health bar for both yourself and your opponent.  The instant audio and visual feedback when you land a punch or kick etc.

A complete run-through of the game takes around half an hour, but mastering the game can definitely take a whole lot longer. Spoiler alert: After defeating the final boss, be careful ho you approach the princess… If she thinks you want a fight, she'll give you one - and that's not a battle you can win!

Karateka was definitely one of my favourite games on the Apple IIe, and I enjoyed revisiting it for this video.

If you are interested in finding out more about Karateka, I encourage you to take a look at

Have a read through the text, but definitely watch the videos to see a bit about how the game came to be.

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