Ah, a fighting game from simpler times. Times before health bars, fatalities, combos, special moves and umpteen buttons. The Way Of The Exploding Fist is unashamedly based on the 1984 arcade game Karate Champ but makes do with a joystick and a single fire button. The game was released in 1985 for various 8-bit computers with the Commodore 64 version being the best. I used to play it on the Spectrum a lot with my brother until he discovered there is no defence against the leg sweep
The Way Of The Exploding Fist is a 2D fighting game using a side on view. There are a total of 18 different moves available including blocks, kicks, punches and somersaults. Although there are a lot of moves the controls are very intuitive. Kicks are achieved by pressing the fire button and moving the joystick in the appropriate direction, giving 8 kicks. All other moves just require you to move the joystick. Some manoeuvres require two moves of the joystick - to perform the low punch, for example, you need to pull back on the joystick to crouch then move it the direction you're facing to punch.
Rather than a health bar each bout is fought for points (like a real Karate tournament). If you hit your opponent with a perfectly executed move you will score one full point. You can still down your opponent with a less that perfect hit but will only obtain a half point. Points are represented by yin-yang symbols at the top of the screen and the first person to gain two full symbols wins the round.
The game can be played as single player against the computer where you progress from Novice to Tenth Dan by beating progressively tougher adversaries. Apparently there is a bonus round where you have to take down a bull with a single punch but I've yet to see that. Where the game really comes into its own is when played against a human opponent. The game is not so fast that button mashing works and games can become quite tactical against an evenly matched player.
As I said, the Commodore 64 boasts the best version of the game. Although the graphics are blockier, the game runs a tad faster than on the Spectrum or the Amstrad. The sound is also better comprising a suitably oriental tune and some (very) primitive digitised spot effects. It’s still a fun game when played against another person and can prove a tough challenge in the single player mode.