Uchi Mata
by Beechnut: Chris Fayers
Martech Games Ltd
Crash Issue 39, April 1987   (1987-03-26)   page(s) 114

Oriental martial arts have been around for centuries. Karate, Tai-Kwon-Do, Kung Fu and Kendo all rely on strength and dexterity with some form of weapon, ranging from rice flails to a clenched fist. However, the well known present day derivative of Ju-Jitsu - Judo - differs from other forms of self defence in that no weapons are used at all. Instead of bashing the living daylights out of an opponent, Judo relies solely on the participant using his opponent's strength and weight to his own advantage.

Uchi Mata offers you the chance to throw either a computer or human controlled opponent around the screen in a series of bouts, scoring points in much the same way as Brian Jacks would in a live contest. Each bout is played over two minutes and points are scored by successfully throwing the opposition.

Throws are executed by moving the joystick in more than one direction, utilising a sort of sweeping action. However, before your opponent can be thrown you have to get a good grip, by quickly pressing the fire button when in range. When a successful grip has been made, a 'grip light' is displayed to signal that you must attempt to perform a throw. If a move is not executed as soon as the grip light appears, then another attempt has to be made at gaining a good grip.

Once a throw has been performed, the referee appears in the top right hand corner of the screen with his hand outstretched to indicate how many points have been awarded for the throw. Either three, five, seven or ten points are given, depending on how your opponent lands. If you manage to perform a perfect throw, ie: the opposition lands flat on his back, then a full ten points are awarded and the bout is over. Otherwise, the player with the most points is declared the winner when the time limit expires.

Whenever a move is made by an attacking player, the defending player can counter it if he is fast enough. If the defending player is actually thrown, then a quick wiggle on the joystick in the right direction will have him landing on his feet.

Only four major moves are provided in the instructions, but by using the training option it is possible to discover undocumented throws and practice defensive moves.

Control keys: Q/A and O/P for movement, Space to execute a throw
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Use of colour: pretty scoreboard, monochrome playing area
Graphics: extremely flickery and jerky
Sound: poor
Skill levels: one
Screens: one playing area

'I've always thought that Judo was a bit boring, you can't punch or kick so mindless violence is sadly left on the shelf. It's just a matter of getting your opponent off balance and then throwing him half way across the room. MARTECH's simulation does nothing to change my views on this martial art. The strange control method's a good idea, although there are problems. You never really get the feeling that the complicated wiggle you've just carried out on your joystick has had anything to do with your character flinging his opponent over his shoulder. Playing on the keys or with a cumbersome joystick is next to impossible because you simply can't access the various movements quickly enough. Despite all this I found Uchi Mata quite appealing for a short time - once you've mastered the controls it's a simple beat 'em up.'

'Goodness gracious me, by golly! What a complete mess of a game Uchi Mata has turned out to be. This must be one of the most unplayable games ever on the Spectrum. MARTECH's latest offering is absolutely impossible to play on the keyboard and not much more fun with a joystick. The flickery graphics are appalling, there shouldn't be any excuse for this. Sound is non-existent. If you ignore the flicker, however, it's possible to see that the moves are very well executed, and feature some superb leg sweeps and throws. If you run off the end of the screen, you may notice that your body disappears, only leaving you hands! Definitely a disappointment.'

'A promising product - not just another martial arts game - Uchi Mata appeared to offer a bit more than your average beat 'em up. However, the manner in which it has been executed leaves a lot to be desired. The animation is hideously flickery, especially the way the characters are constantly updated. The graphics themselves are adequate but I 'm confused by the way shading is used - vertically rather than diagonally, as the old technique always appeared to work much better. The method in which the moves are executed is novel. Using the joystick to simulate the moves themselves; but, again, originality is not always the best ploy - a single key press for a throw seems easier to me. If you can bear the annoying graphics and handle the peculiar control system then Uchi Mata might be worth considering, but don't expect to be bowled over.'

Value for Money33%
Summary: General Rating: There's some playability there, but it's spoiled by its graphics and playing control.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 17, May 1987   page(s) 45

Uchi Mata, as Judo Champ Brian Jacks told us in the March Your Sinclair, means 'Inner Thigh Throw' in Nipponese. A vicious thing to do to a person, I think you'll agree, especially if you don't warn the poor twerp first. Judo is obviously a sport for those well disposed towards a bit o' physical violence.

A judo simulator? Well, it's ail original idea. It takes the form of a judo contest, where you've got to grab and throw your opponent with a legal move. This means you can't just push him over, or stamp on foot and then knee him in nose. Nope, it's got to be a genuine sporting judo throw, or you get disqualified. It's the nearest thing to playing judo without getting your back broken, or so the blurb on the cassette would have you believe. And it s all authentic 'cos our mate Brian Jacks has been consulted on the construction of the scenario and design.

On screen you have the game area, a score board at the top and strengthi/grip indicators, plus a little box for the referee to appear in. You throw your opponent by grabbing his Judogi (his jacket silly) at the chosen moment, getting a firm grip, and pushing the joystick around in a similar direction to the way you'd throw the bloke in reality. You are scored on your technique and if you win the competition you're awarded a new belt.

So that's the theory, what's the practise? The thing that struck me first about Uchi Mata is that the men who do all the throwing are a bit on the flickery side... well, a lot flickery actually. So much so that sometimes it's a little difficult to see what's actually going on, specially as the action moves so quickly. In fact the whole game goes at quite a lick, making it a challenge just to get your grip in time to avoid being decked. But for all this the game doesn't suffer too much and once you can bring yourself to ignore the flickering bits, it's quite absorbing. The throws are complex and detailed, allowing a broad range of expression on behalf of the players - you know, falling flat on their back, leaping up in the air in triumph, that kind of caper.

Uchi Mata is quite good fun, but it seemed a bit unfinished to me. Shame, 'cos with a bit of tickling up this could have been a surefire hit. Presentation is everything these days, so it's dropped a point or two for that. But it is a good simulation of the appliance of judo science.

Value For Money7/10
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash - Run It Again Issue 45, October 1987   (1987-09-24)   page(s) 40

36% Issue 39

Ricky: Uchi Mata was the first judo simulation on the Spectrum. Traditional moves are executed in a novel way: rather than using a single keypress, the player takes the joystick through a series of actions which relate to a complete move. Four major moves are provided in the instructions, but more are there to be discovered by wiggling the joystick around.

Uchi Mata sounds exciting, but the novelties soon wear off and its not long before you wish the sweeping joystick movements could be reduced to a simple keypress. Though well-designed, the graphics flicker badly, and when the characters collide its difficult to see what's going on.

ROBIN: Judo is a strange martial art to simulate on a computer, because it involves a lot of contact with your opponent which others such as karate and Thai boxing don't. Martech made an admirable attempt at representing the sport in Uchi Mata, but the graphics are appalling and suffer from severe bouts of flicker.

What really bugs me, though, is the control method. It's one of the hardest I've ever encountered - trying to execute a move is almost a game in itself! If you like judo, stick to the real thing.

Overall (Robin Candy)35%
Overall (Richard Eddy)51%
Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 61, April 1987   page(s) 28,29

As someone who got pretty confused by the dozen or so possible moves in the original Exploding Fist (a kick in the legs sufficed for most purposes) the idea of playing Judo, with its subtle sequences of offensive and defensive moves seemed pretty daunting.

It was pretty shocking then to discover that the entire range of Judo moves had somehow been reduced to Up, Down, Left, Right, Fire in UchiMata - just out from Martech.

The reduced controls are pretty misleading though, as you soon discover. To begin with there are some peculiar aspects to playing the game. For one thing all attacking moves must be initiated when an indicator box lights up on the screen. All attacking moves must being with a carefully timed grab, by pressing the Fire button. Just how successful your Judo move turns out to be depends on just how firm a grip you get. And that depends on your timing of the Fire button stab. Begin to get the picture...

To Martech's credit, it has done its very best to make the joystick movements 'like' the actual on-screen moves they control. For example a simple (?) throw called a Tomoe-Nage where you throw yourself on to the and use the force to carry the opponent over the top is achieved by pressing the Fire button and pulling the joystick back (right in this case) and down. There is a useful practice mode where an opponent stands there obligingly waiting for you to throw him over your head. It takes a good ten minutes even to master the first four move sequences and it could have serious consequences for lesser joysticks, ie they may break into little pieces.

Scoring, like Fist, is not just a matter of win or lose. Even if you successfully perform a move you may get a poor score (for a particularly crummy but successful move). Defence is more difficult, certain kinds of twisting move may get you out of trouble but its really a question of working out what sort of attacking move your opponent is making and figuring out the most successful counter move. Technically then, UchiMata scores big points.

Graphically the game is clever, but some people are going to be disappointed. The two figures are black and white, with an illusion of grey created by a simple kind of shading which makes it look as though the two opponents are wearing corduroy gis (a gi is the dressing gown thing they wear I'm told). They aren't incredibly detailed but they are animated very well and are called upon to tumble through the air at great speed.

It's a long term game this one. For a start there are moves not described in the manual and different kinds of defensive technique you can try. Later computer opponents can get very difficult to beat indeed so you'll need tons of practice.

Label: Martech
Price: £8.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jim Douglas


Summary: Not just another Fist game. UchiMata manages to simulate many Judo moves in a convincing way.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 68, November 1987   page(s) 38

As budget reissues go, this is quite a bargain I reckon. It's a pretty good simulation of judo and lets you chuck your opponents around in a very authentic manner.

The graphics are large and the animation works well. A weird technique to create the main sprites seems to involve making them look as though seen through slits. Odd lines run up and down their Kimonos.

Brian Jacks had a hand in the development of this one and it really does make for a slightly different challenge from the usual run-of-them combat things.

Label: Alternative
Author: Software Communications
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Summary: Bargain reissue of old Martech combat game. Stands the best of time very well.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 67, May 1987   page(s) 23

MACHINES: Spectrum/Amstrad
PRICE: £8.95
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum/Amstrad

I first got to grips with the Commodore 64 version of Uchi Mata towards the end of last year. I found it frustratingly difficult to get to grips with. Sadly, I've got the same problem with the Amstrad and Spectrum conversions. And they have the added disadvantage of not looking as good.

The graphics on the Spectrum curled lips from most people who wandered past while the games were being reviewed.

There's a practice made which is supposed to allow you to get to grips with your opponent - who won't fight back - and practice the various moves.

It's here I found things starting to go wrong. The most I could get my player to do was grab his opponent's jacket. There then followed a brief shuffle as I moved the joystick about to trying to produce a spectacular throw. Somehow I never seemed to make it. The players just stood facing each other. It doesn't make for thrilling moments.

Even in fight mode it seemed to be merely luck - and frantic joystick waggling - which allowed me to make some sort of throw. Most of the time I ended up the victim with the only belts achieved being the ones handed out by my opponent!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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