Kung-Fu Master: The First “Beat Them Up” Video Game

Arcade flyer of Kung-Fu Master.

Arcade flyer of Kung-Fu Master. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kung-Fu Master is an arcade game designed and developed by Irem in 1984. It was first released in Japan. It was later launched in North America by Data East. Its Japanese version was inspired by a Jackie Chan movie. Many video game buffs consider Kung-Fu Master as the first ever “Beat ‘em  up” video game. It features many elements of Bruce Lee’s Game Of death.
Plot Of The Game

Keiji Thomas is the protagonist of this game. His sister,Sylvia has been abducted by some rogue elements. Thomas has to fight against the gang to rescue his sister. The player has to assume the role of Thomas.

Playing The Game

Thomas could punch with the A button and kick with B button. Both of the moves could be initiated from a jumping and crouching position. Though Punch’s range is shorter than kick’s range but punches are more powerful and detrimental than kicks.  The first floor of the hideout  is manned by knife throwers and grippers. Subsequent floors are guarded by confetti balls,snakes,fire breathing dragons,poisonous moths and tom toms. At the end of each floor, Thomas must confront the boss of the floor, who must be defeated before Tomas could ascend to the next floor. Each floor must be cleared by Thomas within a specific time. The timer is triggered at 2000. When the timer value goes below 330, a beep sound is generated. Another type of sound in this game is the laughter of boss. A boss expresses joy if he defeats Thomas. Once all the five floors are cleared, the game could be resumed with more challenging version.

Releases And Ports
Though Irem developed the original game, later it was ported to Windows,Linux,Apple 2,Atari 2600, Atari 7800,Sinclair ZX Spectrum,BeOS x86,Amstrad CPC,Commodore 64,MSX. It was also redesigned for 8 bit Gameking console. The NES version was ported and published by Nintendo simply under the title “Kung Fu” in North America.


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