Jordan Mechner’s mostly frequently associated with Prince of Persia – sadly the only of his creations to get a feature film starring Jake Gyllenhaal’s immaculately sculpted biceps – but his mighty brain also gave the world Karateka and The Last Express. The latter’s brilliance is well-documented – if not incredibly well-known – but the former doesn’t get quite as much credit. Admittedly, in spite of its silky smooth rotoscoped karate flair, Karateka hasn’t aged nearly so well. But that’s what remakes are for, so Mechner’s paired with Liquid Entertainment to take a perilous, punch-powered journey back to the very beginning of his career. The end result’s part-brawler, part-rhythm game, all action. Or something. And you can snatch it from the hands of a wizened karate master using only a pair of chopsticks right now. By which I mean Steam. But you can still use chopsticks if you want.
Rhythm-based chopsocky’s the clear star of the show here, but Karateka’s new death mechanic also bears mentioning. In short, the game stars three fighters vying to win a princess’ affections by rescuing her (this one heralds from simpler times, remember), and you begin as her true love. However, if he bites it, a different character will take his place, and the princess will live – but probably not happily ever after. So the goal is to replay the game – which only lasts about an hour – until you can beat it in optimal fashion.
It’s a simple, arcade-y premise, but the original was littered with Easter eggs (for instance, the princess could kill the main character at the end), so there’s certainly more to it than a straightforward series of foot-and-fisticuff throwdowns. Also, the remake’s gotten a fair deal of praise for charm and personality, so that’s encouraging.
To celebrate the release, Mechner and co are putting out a few lavishly produced making-of videos. The first one’s about animation, and it’s an enlightening watch. So then, engage your eyeballs’ karate-seeing action functionality and aim them below.