C64 Review of IK+ / International Karate + from Issue 31

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


After nearly a year and a half since the release of the original, a sequel to the highly acclaimed International Karate has arrived. The imaginatively named International Karate + again features a one or two player option, but this time there are a trio of new moves, a remixed Rob Hubbard soundtrack and a new approach to the gameplay.

Press fire and the action begins with the appearance of three players — one controlled by the player and the other two computer controlled. A free-for-all ensues, with each combatant attempting to knock down either opponent. The player has 14 different moves accessible via the joystick in conjunction with fire, including a double kick, head butt, back flip, front punch and high kick.

Points are awarded to a fighter who knocks down an opponent with a successful kick or punch — one point for a reasonable knockout and two for a particularly good job. The objective is to try and score five points before the others, or to score the highest within the 30 second time limit. If a fighter scores five points, the time remaining is turned into bonus points. The second highest scorer goes through to the next round, and the lowest is out — game over in the case of [sic for?] low-scoring player. In the event of no players scoring five, the two highest scorers progress.

The action starts on white belt level, progresses through yellow, to green, purple and finally black. Each level is progressively more difficult, with black level requiring fast reflexes to survive.

When every third level is completed there’s a chance to increase score via a bonus screen. The fighter appears in the centre of the screen and is armed with a defensive shield. Balls bounce onto the screen from either side and are deflected to increase the score. One hundred points are given for each ball deflected, with their speed increasing in velocity until one knocks over the combatant, whereupon the next level is tackled.

During a fight, aspects of the gameplay can be changed. Pressing the numeric keys one to five speeds up or slows down the action, and the backdrop can also be changed. Pressing RUN/STOP puts the game into pause mode, and the karate world’s equivalent of Five Star treat you to a little synchronised dance. There is also a way to make the combatant’s trousers fall down — but we’re not going to tell you how to do it!

This review was typed in/OCRed by Iain

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 86%

Check out the most recent ZzapBack comments.
Rate It!
Login or Register at the forums if you want to be able to edit your comments

Your name :

Your comments :

Your rating 1% to 100% :

Arthur Dent - 23 Aug 2014
A very good karate game, then and now. The choice between single and two player modes is a good addition to an already great game. Through the years there have been many attempts at making a game that is better.. they all failed. The later versions on gameboy and playstation only uplift this version, and keep its legacy alive.

Rating : 95%
Clive Sinclair - 16 Jan 2014
I don't like the sound or the graphics. The ZX81 is a much better machine.

Rating : 5%
Auntie Slag - 22 Mar 2009
Got this game on Oceans' 'We Are The Champions' compilation in 1988. Adored it no end, but preferred the Amiga version for the even meatier sound effects, the wonderful title screen and the extra bonus level of kicking away the bombs.

God knows how many hours we're wasted playing this game. But it's not really 'wasted' because it was almost always fun.

Rating : 92%
Rags - 11 Dec 2008
hehe, mum bought me this game for xmas, but I found it early. So my friend & I stuck a '+' sign on the original international karate cassete, and swapped them over. hehe we had fun playing it, and no-one knew any different.
A hell of a fun game too, with state of the art graphics and sound.

Rating : 98%
jimmy - 12 May 2007
This game is the bees knees in the C64 world. I had this game in 1991 or so and here I am playing it in 2007 after a 15 year hiatus. What more need I say. Except that after level 99 nothing changes! No finale!

Rating : 90%
s man - 25 Aug 2005
top class game and it plays better than the amiga version still well playable even by todays standards.

Rating : 98%
Aceabo88 - 20 Jul 2005
This has to rate as the pinnacle of C64 beat em ups. What more else is there to say??? Well there's the graphics for a start with its smooth animation and supurb backdrop. A fantastic tune which suits the frantic nature of the game superbly. And last but certainly not least the amazing playablity.

this game should grace everybody C64 collection.

Rating : 96%
zzap oz - 20 Jun 2005
Its been awhile since i loaded this awesome fighter so i thought i'd give it a go again last week, what can i say....... nothing has changed!, right down to the music this is a must have game!. Graphically this game is stunning with not a glitch in sight, the sprites move effortlessly over a beaut background, and the game plays the same!. probably one of the best games ever to grace the 64 right up there with paradroid and elite!!!

Rating : 98%
CraigGrannell - 5 May 2005
Ah, back when I were a lad, fighting games were fast and exciting, but didn't rely on remembering hundreds of combinations to get your fighter to do something (or emit a super-mega-power-punch, or whatever). IK+ was the pinnacle of 8-bit beat 'em ups, and it's stood the test of time. The tune wasn't quite as good as Hubbard's composition for IK, but it still suits this game down to the ground. The graphics were spot-on, too: well animated, clear and fast.

The only ratings I'd tweak are lastability, which is surprisingly low and should be about 10 per cent higher, and overall, which needs to go up a smidge.

Rating : 94%
SLF - 4 May 2005
This is the be-all and end-all of c64 beat'em ups.

Incredibly slick and polished, fast and accurate, and with that gorgeous animated backdrop to boot.

On your own it's a great game, as you're always on the edge of your seat trying not to get knocked out all of a sudden.

In two-player mode, it's just fantastic.

The moves work a treat and the bonus level is fun enough not to get bored in the long run.

Music is nice, but it's the Sound FX which are corkingly good.


Pr 95 Gr 94 So 91 Ho 94 La 94

Rating : 94%
Iain - 3 May 2005
An excellent game! Who needs Tekken and all that crap when you have IK+?

I have played this game a hell of a lot over the years and I believe I did make it to black belt, although playing it now with a joypad, makes it very hard to get diagonals and thus get higher than white!

The little graphical touches, such as the fish jumping in the background or the birds flying, give the game a really polished look and this carries through to the gameplay as well.

It's excellent in one player mode, but brilliant with two human players.

The only downside to the game is that it's so easy to get knocked out of the game. You could play for ages to get to black belt and have a game over just because another player got a couple of good hits in.

I'd leave the first 4 rating as is, but up Lastability to 92% and overall to 96%. This should have gotten a Gold Medal.

Rating : 96%
Paul Sumner
International Karate + is bound to be a hit! Well lots of hits actually, with plenty of jumps and kicks to boot. Three men inflicting GBH on one another is somehow more fulfilling than watching a mere pair — and the chance of being thrashed into the ground is greatly increased, which is just great for those into violence. The movement of the thrashing threesome is fast and beautifully animated, with chopstick crunching sound effects. All this, orientally coupled with picturesque backdrops and tough opponents, makes for a superb follow up to International Karate.
Steve Jarratt
Without any hype, advertising or pre-release notice whatsoever, International Karate + suddenly bursts onto the scene — quite unusual for a System 3 product! What a pleasant surprise!! IK + plays much better than its predecessor, and seems even smoother. Although it only has the single backdrop, this doesn’t detract from the game, since it’s absolutely brilliant. The effect of sunlight on the rippling water is superb — a static picture cannot do it justice at all. The inclusion of different moves helps to make the game more appealing, and the bonus section is tremendous fun. It’s no longer International, but who cares?
Julian Rignall
Yeah! Take the best bits of International Karate, add an extra opponent, a couple of new moves, new music and tweak the playability and you’ve got the incredible International Karate +! The feel is superb, and the three player free-for-all is incredibly frenetic, providing more violent fun than anything else I’ve played. The presentation is also excellent, with wonderful little touches on the picture, like the spiders and leaping fish, and great speed variation and pause mode during the game. A tenner is a high price to pay for a fighting game, but they don’t come any better than this classic in the making.
Beautifully designed and executed.

Lovely, smooth and convincing animation across an equally good backdrop.

Crunching sound effects and great Hubbard remix.

Straightforward and instantly rewarding violence.

The excitement may wane slightly after a while, but the two player option is always enjoyable.

An outstanding beat ‘em up which shouldn’t be missed.