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Back to Karateka
This guide covers the Apple II and Famicom versions. The Apple II version has prettier graphics (despite the lower resolution), smoother control, and stronger AI. This guide covers both versions, concentrating on the Apple II version.
You only have one life for the entire game. If you die, you must start over from the beginning. After winning a battle, your maximum health level will usually decrease by one point and your enemy's maximum health level will increase by one point. Your health will always be restored to its current maximum after a battle, so it does not matter how much you are damaged during combat as long as you do not die.
Controlling your fighter depends on which version you are playing. In all versions you have two stances: running and fighting. Being hit in the running stance is lethal, whether or not you are stationary. Once you enter fighting stance in a combat situation, you may not enter running stance again until your enemy is gone. In all versions, you have three punches or kicks, depending on if the joystick or D-pad is in an up, down, or neutral position.
Press the "punch" button while standing in the running stance and you will honorably bow to your opponent; if your opponent is also in this stance, he will bow back. This gesture serves no function other than your amusement.
Kicks have a longer range than punches, but punches are quicker. Kicks can be rapid-fired at most four times, after which your fighter must pause, but rapid one-two punches can continue indefinitely.
While in fighting stance, you have two kinds of movement: walking, and a slight, quick shuffle forward, which the game distinguishes by holding the joystick and tapping it.
Apple II controls
- Button 1: kick
- Button 2: punch
- Up: assume running stance; let go to assume fighting stance
- Up+Right: run; let go to assume fighting stance
In the Famicom version, your stance will be held after releasing the corresponding button.
- A: kick
- B: punch
- Up: assume running stance
- Down: assume fighting stance
The game is usually considered to have three levels: outside the palace, inside the palace, and the lower level of the palace.
|This section contains spoilers! Content within this section may reveal significant parts of a game(s) story.|
Outside the palace
You will first meet a lone guard near a cliff. Do not fall off the cliff! He should be easy enough and will walk right into your moves, so stand close to him and give him a kick as he approaches. Once you beat him, proceed through the gate.
This second part is the main part of the level. You stand on one end and guards approach from the other. There are an infinite number of guards; reaching the other end quickly means you will fight fewer of them, and you want to fight as few battles as possible. Assume the running stance and run towards your enemy. The game will cinematically cross-cut between yourself and your enemy every few seconds, but keep running. Stop as soon as you see your enemy's life gauge appear and assume fighting stance. (In the Famicom version, wait until you see your enemy.) You do not want to run into your rival's extended fist! Dispatch the him as you did the first guard, and again assume the running stance. Proceed in this manner until you reach the entrance of the building. You will probably be stopped just as you try to enter. Fight there, again as before, and do not back off too far from the entryway or anonther guard will appear and you must fight again.
Palace upper level
This level proceeds much like the previous one did. The guards here will be smarter. You will also encounter Akuma's bird from time to time. If it touches you in the running stance, you will die, so assume the fighting stance after you hear it squawk. It is very difficult to hit, and if you fail to hit it, it will take a two points of your health. On the Apple II version, it takes about one second for you to throw a punch, so press the punch button when it is about one second's time away. Be sure to use the correct punch.
At the end you will encounter a gate. If you try to rush through it, it will slam down upon you and you will be crushed to death. Assume fighting stance and walk up to it as close as you can without getting directly under it. Then quickly tap forward, then backward, on the joystick or control pad. You will walk under it and jump back. If you do it successfully, the gate will slam down but you will not be hit. As it comes back up, assume running stance and run through it. (This doesn't seem to work well for the Famicom version. As furrykef has never passed this obstacle in the Famicom version, the rest of the guide covers the Apple II version. And in the Famicom version, you have to worry about enemies, which are still coming through the gate!)
Palace lower level
You can relax because you have a finite number of enemies now. Battles here might be very long and drawn out. When you come to a closed door, do not run into it or it will hurt you. If this happens, wait a few seconds to regain the health point. Get through the door by breaking it open with a kick. Continue fighting, being very patient, but aggressive when they get too close. You will have to take risks, and if you get in over your head, you can back off and regenerate health -- although your opponent will do the same.
You will eventually come to a warrior with a red mask and horns. This will be your final normal opponent. After you defeat him, break open the door, but jump back. You will have to fight Akuma's bird, who will fly into the room. You will have far more health than you ever had before, but this is still perhaps the most difficult battle of the game! As before, failure to hit it will result in the loss of two health points.
Fight the bird as you did before: wait until it is about one second away, and use the appropriate punch. That's all there is to it, but it's not so easy until you get the timing down!
After that, you will fight Akuma. He's nothing too special: just an ordinary fighter in a fancier outfit. However, he will have far more health than you, and he's every bit as fast as you. But if you got this far, you should be able to handle him.
After defeating Akuma, you may rescue the princess Mariko. Run towards her. If you approach her in fighting stance, she will lower her arms. This is a warning! You don't want to be threatening, and she will kill you if you get too close in fighting stance, one of the most infamous tricks in video game history. Run into her arms and she will embrace you.