The Karate Kid

Publisher: LJN
Year: 1987
Genre: Fighting

The Karate Kid is based on the 1980’s film of the same name. Karate was (and, I guess, is) a martial arts form developed in Okinawa that rose to enormous popularity in the 1980’s and early 90’s, when it was basically the atom bomb of martial arts forms, capable of defeating any foe or group of foes.

Like nearly all games based off movies, the Karate Kid is terrible.

Movie games always pay top dollar for title screens, though.
Movie games always pay top dollar for title screens, though.

The game starts with you fighting a bland karate tournament where, as in the movie, jump kicks to the face are against the rules, but still the best way to win. Then, between tournament screens, you travel between tournaments being attacked by tons of nameless thugs who sometimes drop crane kick and drum punch tokens for you to use in the tournament screens or (accidentally) on the nameless thugs.

"D" for "Donkey Punch"
“D” for “Donkey Punch”

John’s Score: 1.5 out of 5.0. The game is playable. That’s about the best that can be said for it. Fighting games on the NES are notoriously clunky, as are movie game. This is just about the worst of both worlds.


Publisher: LJN
Year: 1987
Genre: Shmup, Static

Jaws, the film, was about a shark that ate people. More than that, Jaws was about human conflict, fear of the unknown, fear of nature and fear of stagnation. The video game is still about a shark that eats people, but that’s really about it. Oh, and ecoterrorism. I’m pretty sure you play an ecoterrorist.

Dah-DUH… dah-DUH…

Like virtually all video games based on movies, Jaws is terrible and has little to do with the source material. In it, you are a fishing trawler / diver who must kill hundreds of jellyfish, manta ray and small sharks to collect enough shells to upgrade your weapons so you can kill Jaws. Like any good ecoterrorism simulator, there is a mini game where you drop bombs from a biplane onto dancing jellyfish.

Pictured: Not riveting gameplay

John’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5.0. The gameplay is monotonous and dull, the “plot” in no way resembles that of the actual Jaws film or book and you never get a bigger boat, which was one of the shortcomings of the movie the game could have addressed.

Gotcha!: The Sport

Publisher: LJN
Year: 1987
Genre: Side-Scroll, Zapper

Gotcha!: The Sport is a paintball capture the flag game based on, apparently, the film Gotcha!, which is in turn based on a variant on live action simulated assassination games, so the departure from source is made all the more conspicuous by the source’s departure from its own source material, and I’ve already talked about the origins of this game more than it deserves. This was a different era. They were willing to make video games out of any movie. We don’t do things like that anymore.

So much punctuation, they couldn't fit it all on just one screen.
So much punctuation, they couldn’t fit it all on just one screen.

You control the game with both the d-pad on the gamepad and the Zapper gun. This isn’t especially clumsy, as it’s relatively easy to hold a Zapper in one hand and manipulate the d-pad with the other, but playing the game made me wonder why they bothered. For one thing, even on the highest difficulty, I had no difficulty simply holding the pad to the right or left (depending on whether I was on my way to get the flag or on my way back from getting it) and shoot the enemies as I went. Heck, on the beginner level I didn’t NEED to shoot them – sometimes, simply by moving continuously, I could outrun them all.

The underground urban paintball scene, as imagined in the 1980's.
The underground urban paintball scene, as imagined in the 1980’s.
 John’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0. It might be an interesting novelty experience, but the game doesn’t offer much in the line of variety. On top of that, there are a lot of counter-intuitive quirks, such as ammunition only being reduced by misses (or being shot) and enemy hitboxes that disappear behind soft cover. This might be the sort of game you play once or twice as a curiosity, but it’s not really good for ongoing play.

The Goonies II

Publisher: Konami
Year: 1987
Genre: Platform – Side-Scroll, Adventure

You remember the Goonies, right? Beloved 1980’s cult flick involving pirate gold, Cyndi Lauper (along with some pro wrestlers) and truffle shuffles? Remember the sequel where the Fratellis kidnapped all of the Goonies except Mikey as well as a mermaid, and Mikey had to rescue them with the help of a colorful cast of characters such as an old man and woman, a fish man and an eskimo?


Continue reading “The Goonies II”