Karateka is a 1984 computer game by Jordan Mechner, the creator of Prince of Persia. Karateka was Mechner's first hit game, and was designed while he was attending Yale University. The game was renowned at the time for its realistic animations, given the limitations of graphics at that time. In the United States, Karateka was published by Brøderbund. Various versions were licensed to Ariolasoft for publication in Europe.


The title is derived from the Japanese word 空手家 (pronounced /kəratɛka/), meaning 'practitioner of karate'. The title is often mispronounced as /kærateɪka/, and was even said incorrectly in a television commercial for the Atari 7800. In proper Japanese, however, it would be pronounced /karateka/.


The game begins with an impressive graphic of the fortress of the evil Akuma. Akuma is holding the lovely Princess Mariko. The player must defeat the guards of the castle and must eventually face Akuma himself in order to rescue the princess.

Mechner adeptly used character gestures and musical cues to evoke the game's immersive atmosphere. The animations nearly match the quality of the ones seen in Mechner's Prince of Persia five years later.

Combat consists of side views of the two combatants, very much like as with a platform game. The hero and the foe fight it out, trading various punches and kicks. Both the hero and enemy can throw three punches and kicks, each at a different height. In the original Apple II version, the height of the blows are controlled with either the joystick, where the type of blow, punch or kick, is specified with one of the two joystick buttons; or the keyboard, where each height of punch of kick had its own key.

The player only has one life, but in lieu of lives, the player has health points. Receiving blows from the enemy lowers these points, but they can be recovered by resting (not attacking or being struck). The enemy's health points are also visible to the player. When all health points are exhausted, the hero or foe is defeated (it is never made clear whether the vanquished adversary is killed or merely knocked unconscious).

Typical of games from this era, and because the game was so short, Karateka did not have a "save game" feature.

At one point, the hero must fight Akuma's trained eagle before facing Akuma himself.

At the successful conclusion of the game, the hero is reunited with Mariko as he frees her from her prison cell. He must then drop his fighting stance and run into her arms. The game concludes with a musical tribute and description of the player's success. If the hero approaches Mariko in fighting stance, she kicks him in the head, killing him in one blow. In the NES version Mariko will accept the player regardless of the stance.


The game was originally developed for the Apple II. It was later ported to several other systems, including the Amstrad CPC, Atari 800, Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum in 1986. The Atari 7800 port was released in 1987, but had sluggish controls and choppy animation and is widely regarded as one of the worst games for that console Template:Fact. The game was released in Japan for the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom in 1984, ported by Soft Pro. An original Game Boy port was done under the name Master Karateka with release limited to Asia.

The Apple II version came on one apparently single-sided disk. As an easter egg, a second version of the game was placed on the flip side of the disk. If one put the disk into the drive upside-down, the game played identically to the first side, except that the game was displayed vertically flipped. According to Mechner, this was done as a joke, causing naive users to call tech support and ask why the game was upside-down. Invariably, they would receive the reply, "take the disk out, insert it right-side up, and reboot".

A hack of the Apple II version of the game existed, titled "Karateka II: Revenge of the Dude". The non-interactive version was created using the Take-1 animation software package, the user simply watched the game unfold as a movie, with added, often profane, text [1].

Popular cultureEdit

The game received some notoriety as an Internet meme. The final sequence where the hero approaches Mariko was rotoscoped and replaced with the hero performing MC Hammer's dance from his single "U Can't Touch This." A cropped version appears on YTMND as "Ninja Works It"

External linksEdit

he:קראטקה ja:カラテカ pt:Karateka (jogo de computador) ru:Karateka zh:富士山跆拳

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