The Karate Kid (NES, 1987)
I was once faced with quite a choice when while staring down the wall of NES box art flaps at the Lake Grove Toys "R" Us: Hydlide or The Karate Kid. You see, those were the only two games that had those paper slips that I either didn't have or was even slightly interested in.
Now, I knew what Hydlide was from seeing the ad in various comic books (side note: that Metal Gear comic ad was minted out). I recalled seeing a couple of screen shots with what looked like chicken tracks on the ground. Taking that tempting visage into account, my gaze shifted to The Karate Kid. Sorry, rad looking dragon battling who I assumed to be Hydlide the Brave.
I had rented The Karate Kid a few months before this moment. It wasn't anything spectacular when I played it, but I was inexplicably drawn to movie-based games and needed as many as I could collect in my game library. Until I got old enough to differentiate between different media with identical titles, I thought Konami's Life Force was based on the VHS movie I always saw at the local drug store's rental section and Capcom's Commando missed the mark in the Arnold Schwarzenegger likeness department. "Why isn't he fighting Bennett or searching for Alyssa Milano?" Unfortunately for movie to video game adaptations, LJN was behind the majority of them.
The Tournament - Defeating nameless Cobra Kai challengers in the first level's one on one fighting mode made me feel like I was in the movie. "Get him a body bag, yeah!" But forget that white gi. The red and black outfit from The Karate Kid Part II was super stylish and, thankfully, you get to ring in the last level wearing that getup.
The Controls - Game developers had to experiment back in the eighties due to the NES having only two action buttons. Daniel-San already had a button mapped to punch and the other mapped to kick. Some games had you press both action buttons to jump. The solution here was to use up on the directional pad. Convenience at its least bit of effectiveness. And quite unresponsive as most of the time you're jumping, you're also moving to the right. Try going through the typhoon level with the wind constantly pushing you backwards. It's possible, but you will die. If you make it though, it's not so much skill as it is luck.
The Bonus Levels - When you're a kid and you get a new video game, you play that thing all the time, no matter how bad it is. It's the only taste of new game you'll get until the next major holiday or your birthday. That being said, I got darn good at those bonus levels. Ice breaking, fly catching with chopsticks and whatever that hook dodging thing was: I perfected them all.
Chozen - The last thing standing between you and that fantastic ending screen. The more you hit him, the more he brushes past Yukie. The more he brushes past Yukie, the more she slides to the edge of the platform. If she falls off, she dies. If she dies, you die. If you happen to push Chozen past Yukie in a fleeting moment of crazy Karate Kid skill (read: luck) then you can kick the garbage out of him and win Mr. Miyagi's attention on this game's equivalent to Contra's helicopter escape screen. You're the best around.
Did I make a mistake all of those years ago? Should I have purchased Hydlide instead?