“The Way of the Exploding Fist” was one of Beam Software’s best-selling games, and reached number one in Europe. It was one of the first ‘beat-‘em-up’ games for the home computer and the first multi-move beat em up. Jordan Mechner’s “Karateka”(1984) which came out just before “The Way of the Exploding Fist” was basically punch and kick.
The game offered an unprecedented sixteen karate moves, which allows for strategic game playing and complexity. Combinations of joystick directions (or keys on the keyboard) and the fire button (or SHIFT-key) make this game initially complicated to learn. However, once mastered, the controls are intuitive and become standard on single-button control systems. Designer and programmer Gregg Barnett practised all the movements as he developed it, mapping the combinations onto the joystick so that they felt fluid and natural.
The game allows for thumps, cracks and cries when you or your opponent is kicked effectively. Its sound design really bringing home the sense of the combat in contrast Neil Brennan‘s soundtrack offering an atmospheric sense of place. One of the most memorable features seems to be the intensive and high volume scream of ‘kai-ai ’ during the loading screen. made possible by Beam Softwares fast loader the Pav-Loada. The animation of the fighters is impressive, Beam’s artist Greg Holland cunningly dividing the body into two grids to support more complex animations. The quality of the graphics, including Japanese background imagery, adds to the overall essence of the game.
A review in “Crash” (issue 10, 1985, p12) says that “The Way of the Exploding Fist” ‘… is by far and away the best sports combat simulation available yet.’
Beam Software made two sequels to “The Way of the Exploding Fist”. “Fist 2: The Legend Continues” (1986), was a side-scrolling adventure with some beat em up style fighting. “Exploding Fist +”. was in the style of the the original, but also included combat with 3 characters, which was popular with “Fist’s” greatest rival, “International Karate+”.
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