I doubt many people reading this will have heard of the original Karateka. It’s an old game originally released for the Apple II in 1985, at a time when Choplifter and Pacman represented the cutting edge of gaming. You controlled a tiny man in a karate gi who ran from left to right through a castle. Every so often he’d have to stop and fight a guard using his pro karate skills, and eventually he’d defeat the evil lord of the castle and rescue his kidnapped beloved, a princess. Apparently it was quite good by 1985 standards despite looking tremendously ropey today, but the only reason I’ve heard of it is because it was the first game by Jordan Mechner and basically functioned as a prototype for many of the elements he later implemented in the much better – and better-known – Prince of Persia1.
- If you’re interested in games at all and ever get the chance, I highly recommend reading the Prince of Persia Journals. They’re a fascinating glimpse into the creative process involved in trying to make a game pretty much singlehandedly. ↩