Kung-Fu Master
by David J. Anderson, F. David Thorpe
US Gold Ltd
Crash Issue 31, August 1986   (1986-07-31)   page(s) 16

The honourable Kung Fu Master is in a bit of a fix. Hidden within the evil wizard's temple is a fair oriental damsel in distress. In the cause of truth and justice, the martial arts supremo must battle his way through the rooms in the temple to try and save her from a terrible ordeal.

This wizard is no fool, however, and has made sure that his little lotus blossom is well protected against any who might try to rescue her from his dastardly clutches. He has used his magical powers to good effect and has set many traps to prevent her from leaving.

Mystical globes hover sinisterly at head level, waiting to burst and shower our hero with deadly pieces of shrapnel. Vases drop from the ceiling to reveal poisonous snakes which slither around under the Master's feet. He must lump to avoid them or else he will be bitten by the little sacks of venom and won't be at all happy. If yellow spheres drop near the Kung-Fu Master he must watch out, for when they break open they reveal fire-breathing dragons. These can be destroyed, but their flaming breath is deadly if you get too close. The wizard's henchmen are not to be trifled with either. Although you may be a Master of Kung Fu, this does not guarantee that you are invincible. The henchmen will try to dispatch you with a blow to the head or with a sharp and pointy knife.

The Kung-Fu Master walks along the scrolling play area, and has a variety of moves in his fighting repertoire. Flying kicks, body punches and squatting kicks, all accessed in Exploding Fist style, are just some of the ways in which he can dispose of his enemies.

At the end of each floor a door leads to the next level. The portals are heavily guarded by the wizard's lackeys, and a motley crew they are too from giants to boomerang-wending felons, their sole object in life is to stop you from gaining access to the next floor in the temple.

Being a mystical fellow, the Kung-Fu Master has been granted three lives. He loses one of these every time he is defeated by one of the guards in the temple, and falls off the bottom of the screen. The number of lives left is shown at the top of the screen along with the amount of energy left. Some of the nasties in the game sap energy rather than killing outright. When the energy level, represented by a blue line, gets too low, a life is lost and play resumes at the start of the current level.

For every guard despatched to an early grave, points are awarded depending on the power of the vanquished opponent, and a meter keeps track of the score so far. For every 40,000 points collected, an extra life is awarded. Quite apart from all the wizard's henchman, there is another problem for our slanty-eyed hero to contend with. A strict time limit is set to the game, and each level has to be completed before this runs out. A clock in the status panel starts at 2,000 and counts down. The state of the wizard's army enemy is represented by a red band underneath the energy chart, which shrinks a little more as each minion is defeated.

The persecuted damsel is trapped within the fifth level of the temple, held captive in a dark, locked room. The mission is completed when she has been freed. If you want to continue the game, you return to the first floor, but from then onwards there are more of the wizard's minions. The task is much harder second time around...

Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: quite responsive
Use of colour: not very good at all
Graphics: lots of attribute problems and lots of flicker
Sound: tune plays throughout
Skill levels: five
Screens: five levels, scrolling backdrop

'I first saw this one in the arcades about a year ago. I didn't really rate it that highly then. On the Spectrum, it has lost its nice sound and graphics, and any addictive qualities that the original ever possessed. There isn't anything in this game that remotely pleases me I'm afraid. Even the thought of beating up the odd Ninja bloke doesn't really appeal anymore. The graphics are really very poor - there are so many attribute problems that it's hard to tell what is going on, and the use of colour is also quite bad. The sound, on the other hand, is pretty good. There are a couple of nice tunes and a spot effect now and then. On the whole us Gold seem to have produced another 'no-no'.'

'Well I suppose I shouldn't really have expected a great translation from the arcade game but the least they should have done is got the graphics and colour sorted out. If you look at someone playing Kung Fu Master, all that is apparent is the most awful flicker of the graphics. The game is fairy average as far as Spectrum games go and, as a result, it doesn't do the arcade version justice. I didn't like the idea of choosing which level to enter at as this spoils the addictiveness of the game. Each level In Kung Fu Master is no harder than the previous one as far as I could see. I didn't find myself as stuck on the game as I felt I should have been. Not a brilliant conversion'

'The arcade game is nothing mega-amazing by today's standards, but it is playable, and very addictive. Not so US GOLD's conversion, however. The front end to the game is quite impressive. The music of you can call it that) is irritating, and the game very definitely lacks something to make it addictive. A big disappointment on something that, with the exception of the scrolling, would convert quite well to the Spectrum, although it looks as though it hasn't. An element of the original playability, albeit a weak element, still exists. A disappointment, really.'

Value for Money57%
Summary: General Rating: Overall, a very poor conversion from the arcade game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 09, September 1986   page(s) 69

I've played Kung-Fu Master before. In a fish'n'chip shop in Rochdale. No, I don't have a Spectrum on an elastic mains lead... I was banging away on an arcade machine, waiting for a bus home.

Point being that US Gold's new tape is a good enough conversion to actually remind me of that rather damp and forgettable evening. Up until seeing it, I was convinced I'd never heard of it.

Not that the graphics and animation re-create the smell of spilt vinegar very well. Or even touch on the atmosphere of most martial arts games. KFM suffers from wimpy little blokes with a slight mince, horrible identity crises (well, attribute problems) and the occasional jerk.

But if the graphics aren't so hot, it's the game that'll grab you. Your task is to beat your way through five floors of meanies, to rescue your loved one, taking on everything from henchmen (the sort of extras the A-team is filled with - just there to get injured), to knife throwers, dragons and killer bees.

Sheer size makes it a different kettle of Fist to your standard martial artser; you're going to need a lot of practice and a lot of stamina.

Your range of moves is more limited than with the straight fight games too. But little twists like having to shake yourself free of opponents to get a kick or punch in add a bit more realism and frustration to the game.

This is the one for those who reckon they've got these games sussed - the biggie. Don't worry about the way it looks; if you can beat this, you can beat anything. And have fun doing it.

I'm even tempted to go and spend a penny in an arcade to pick up some tips and see the real thing again. Damn good fish'n'chips too...

Value For Money9/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash - Run It Again Issue 45, October 1987   (1987-09-24)   page(s) 38,39

56% Issue 31

ROBIN: In this conversion of a coin-op original, you have to rescue a fair damsel from the evil clutches of a wizard. As the eponymous master, you progress through five levels fighting off other kung fu warriors and assorted monsters conjured up by the wizard's sorcery. Moves for attack and defence can be accessed quite easily.

I was never impressed by the arcade game of Kung Fu Master, and US Gold's conversion is terrible. Graphically it's inept, with attribute problems and flickery animation, and the gameplay is very boring. Though the arcade original was run-of-the-mill, a lot more could have been made of this licence.

RICKY: I didn't think much of the coin-op Kung Fu Master, and this is no improvement - Scooby Doo is a better game along similar lines.

Overall (Robin Candy)49%
Overall (Richard Eddy)38%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair - Article Re-review Issue 53, May 1990   page(s) 29

I'm probably wrong, but I'd say Kung Fu Master was the first scrolling beat-'em-up to arrive on the scene, and possibly even the first conversion of an arcade beat-'em-up. It's also absolutely terrible (an no question there).

Although the arcade version was very popular, despite its rather restriced gameplay, US Gold really fowled up with the conversion. The graphics are absolutely chronic, with colour-clash everywhere, and the whole thing plays as if it's underwater. There's also the diabolical music to worry about.

However, Kung Fu Master does contain a number of milestones. Apart from the scrolling, it also introduced the idea of multiple opponents, some of whom are armed with nasty weapons, and the end-of-level guardians can still cause some hassle.

Wince Factor45%
Eastern Promise22%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 54, September 1986   page(s) 56

Kung Fu Master is not exactly a market leading release. There must now be more versions of martial arts games for the Spectrum than there are versions of Pacman, and will soon be versions of Gauntlet (check your lawyers boys).

Kung Fu Master turns out to be rather tedious, contains nothing you won't have seen before and is really not all that well programmed - especially since it's been converted from the Data East coin-op. The central element of any Kung Fu game must surely be the fighters themselves. If they look good, move smoothly and are nicely animated between the various attacking postures then the chances are you'll feel involved with the action and the game will be addictive. On the other hand, if they are small, flickery, change colour according to background and with fighting postures which look like indistinct blurs of assorted pixels, then you have what is known in Kung Fu terms as an absolute dodo. With Kung Fu Master we're talking blurs.

It's a scrolling game. Teams of enemies line up one after the other and assault you (the Kung Fu Master) as you try to move across the screen. Fight off various assailants, avoid assorted obstacles like knives, mystic globes, killer bees and snakes, and finally rescue the usual fair maiden in the final screen. The background is a sort of orientalish-looking passageway and it's OK apart from changing colour as you move past parts of it.

Actually playing the game is nothing like the same sort of test of skills as Way of the Exploding Fist. It's a case of quantity rather than quality. The vast majority of the flickery baddies can be felled by one or two blows. True they fight back if you sit there and do nothing, but otherwise the point when you die in the game is more a question of being worn down by attrition rather than by a skilful blow. Rather like a conveyor belt they just keep coming and sooner or later you make a mistake.

A good portion of the game is actually a straight-forward dodge game in disguise - many objects can be avoided by carefully timed jumps and sometimes the punches and kicks are simply the physical equivalent of laser zaps, ie, if you press the fire button at the right time you'll survive - judgement, strategy and combinations of blows aren't required.

Although I have some doubts about how necessary the assorted movements and directions are, the system for selection between them is intelligent. The joystick controls left, right, jump, squat; with the fire button pressed you get a series of kicks in the indicated direction and these can be toggled to punches by also pressing the keyboard space bar.

Kung Fu Master looks like it ought to have been a budget release to me. The game is, I think, one of US Gold's conveyor-belt conversions. The Commodore original was considerably better and the problems with the Spectrum version seem to stem from the conversion programmers simply not bothering over much to try and get the best out of the machine.

I wouldn't bother over much going out to buy it. At C7.95 it's just too steep.

Label: US Gold
Author: David J Anderson
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor


Summary: A routine conversion from the C64 on which little genuine thought or effort seems to have been expended.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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