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DOS - 1986

Also available on: Amstrad CPC - Apple II - Atari 7800 - Atari 8-bit - Atari ST - Commodore 64 - ZX Spectrum

Alt names カラテカ, Karate Master, Karateka Classic
Year 1986
Platform DOS
Released in United States (1986)
Brazil (1990)
Genre Action
Theme Beat 'em up / Brawler, Martial Arts
Publisher Brøderbund Software, Inc.
Developer Connelley Group, The
Perspectives 2D scrolling, Side view
Dosbox support Fully supported on 0.73
4.55 / 5 - 55 votes

Description of Karateka

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One of the first fighting games ever made, Karateka is an excellent side-scrolling gem that catapulted Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia series) to fame and fortune.

The plot: as a trained master Karateka, you must invade the castle to rescue Princess Mariko from the clutches of evil Akuma. The game shows some promise to his later titles with smooth "believable" animations and a movie-like atmosphere. MobyGames describes the game's appeal in more detail:

"The finest aspect of Karateka, and one that hasn't lost anything due to the game's age was how well Jordan Mechner could tell a tale with nothing but visuals and musical cues. There is no dialogue, not even text. Characters merely make gestures and the music plays their mood so wonderfully that one knows what the characters are 'saying' without hearing/seeing a single world. It's brilliant and such an achievement has only been achieved a few times in the history of gaming. For their time frame, the graphics were well done. Crisp, clean, and effective, they were exceptional for when the game came out. [And] at the time, the basic concept (running down the hall fighting opponents in a very simplified fighting game style) was enjoyably fresh.

The Bad: gameplay is very repetitive, as you face off against tone lackey after another with minimal to no difference between emplyess. The fighting style, an early fighting game type of engagement, lacks finesse or true style. You more times than not wind up just mashing buttons until you connect...often using the same maneuver again and again in rapid succession. Aside from a few surprises (like Akuma's falcons attacking), there's little difference between your opponents or how you fight them. The difficulty level, mixed with the controls and repetitiveness, might [also] scare away many poeple who will find this game somwhat hard and frustrating."

Overall, Karateka is one of the earliest side-scrolling fighting/action game that is a classic in the way it tells the story, and bodes well for Mechner's later classics. Highly recommended!

Review By HOTUD

External links

Comments and reviews

Robotas 2023-08-31 1 point

If you are a Prince of Persia fan of the original game, you MUST play and watch this game closely. Karateka is the base (almost a prequel) of Prince of Persia, you will find so many resemblances (the intro story, the animation style, the triangles energy/life meter, the enemy looks, the gate opening slow and impaling fast, and some sounds).
Now, you have a better collection of Karateka games with "The Making of Karateka", it's an interactive documentary very detailed with documents, video interviews, comentaries, and the games you can play with exclusive, never seen before, new versions. This collection have: Karateka - Jordan's Prototype (Apple II - 1984), Karateka - Broderbund Prototype 1 (Apple II - 1984), Karateka - Broderbund Prototype 2 (Apple II - 1984), Karateka (Apple II - 1984), Karateka (Commodore 64 - 1985), Karateka (Apple 8-bit - 1985), Karateka Remastered (PC - 2023). Plus other games from Jordan Mechner personal history: Asteroid Blaster (Apple II - 1981), Star Blaster (Apple II - 1982), Deathbounce - First Prototype (Apple II - 1982), Deathbounce - "Colored Balls" Prototype (Apple II - 1982), Deathbounce - "Little Man" Prototype (Apple II - 1982), Deathbounce - "Space Train" Prototype (Apple II - 1983) and Deathbounce: Rebounded (PC - 2023). Besides this must have collectors item, there is the only modern version of Karateka (from Liquid Entertainment), in full 3D with art designer from Batman animation. You can take a pick of all this now on Steam store.

Legend 2022-05-19 0 point

Was this the correct color of PC version? Oh there shouldn't be any PC version back then right? I lost my memory of the Apple II experience. But I still remember the color back there on Apple was good. And I only saw monochrome on the PC version years later.

Kevo 2022-04-16 0 point

Top notch game.

JohnnyGun 2021-05-26 0 point DOS version

I have the same problem as you -- I lose Keyboard function after entering the house and hitting space bar to go to fight mode. Anyone have a fix?

Perry Rhodan 2021-03-24 0 point

Finally ported to Amiga - Here's the link to download.

Xcalibre 2020-05-25 0 point DOS version

I lose Keyboard function after entering the house and hitting space bar to go to fight mode. Right after the cutscene... any ideas?

PhredP 2020-01-16 2 points

I don't know if anyone but me remembers the Apple II version of this game had a rather unique easter egg: turn the original disk over and boot the "wrong" side and the game would still boot and play fine, but the graphics would all be upside down!

akbwl 2019-11-16 0 point Apple II version

I played it on the Apple IIe.
Before approaching the princess you had to press the space key so your figure left the attack mode and entered the running mode. Otherwise she thought, you would attack her. Took me several attempts to realize this.

AlexDeLara 2019-11-09 -1 point Apple II version

We playing this on an Apple II ... we could never figure out the end even though we were at Mariko face, she would kill us...

Mr Vampire 2019-02-09 0 point Commodore 64 version

Really loved this game back in the day. It has a silent movie, cinematic drama feel to it. I use to find it hilarious that if you got in the fighting stance at the very start and shuffle backwards the hero falls off the cliff. I don't remember ever actually rescuing the princess, I always got stuck at the gate.

MilkoG 2018-04-09 -1 point DOS version

Doesn't start on my DosBox ...
I run a bunch of other old games.
Any suggestions?

Pooplets 2016-04-15 0 point DOS version

This game was so great. Fluid motion was unheard of until this timeperiod.

arf 2016-02-26 1 point

This is a Masterpiece...visionary, no doubt.

KAYCEE 2016-01-15 -1 point DOS version


Pink Floyd 2014-05-21 0 point DOS version

This Jordan Mechner classic was very revolutionary back in the day. I was even far more impressed by his other classic Prince of Persia which was about 5 years after this masterpiece. But back in 1984 the animation and elements of this game were top notch. 2D beat em up game before arcades had Vigilate,Renegade,and Double Dragon.

chuvix 2014-03-12 -1 point DOS version

no funciona

Jegas 2014-01-01 -1 point DOS version

DosBox 0.74 + Win7 (64bit) Worked great mounted to drive A: so the game appears to be in a floppy drive I guess. Not doing this game me nothing.

I had this game decades ago - and it still is amazingly smooth and amazing that even with it's four color palette it looks great! This game stood out when I was a mere lad because of how smooth the animations are.

I recommend this game - not for fast paced action - but for the pure joy of fighting people.. you can kick high, medium, and low and punch I think same way. I did notice game was great with the joystick but diagonal directions with joystick would stop the moves from happening - so - button 1 and 2 (kick and punch) and joystiick left right to walk - but when tossing a punch or kick - move joystick up, center or down.

Experiment though - maybe you won't notice this. Note: It doesn't take away from the game at all!

This game runs perfect in DosBox as far as I can tell!

aini 2013-07-02 0 point DOS version


RoyK 2013-06-24 2 points DOS version

To play with dosbox, simply mount karateka's folder to a:

Jimmy 2013-05-23 -1 point DOS version

@Sigit You double click it and it starts automatically.
Maybe you have to press the buttons Alt & Enter to start it in short screen.

Sigit 2013-05-10 -1 point DOS version

I can't play it with my DOSBox. Anyone can help?

Dan 2013-03-18 0 point DOS version

She could kill the hero with one swift kick, and yet she was imprisoned by some random guy who would be defeated by the hero. I loved this game to bits.

Renvalt 2012-08-27 1 point DOS version

Every Friday at my elementary school's computer class was Free Game Day. Meaning anyone could play whatever the hell they wanted.

This was but one of the few games in our lineup. And I remember a few kids starting fights over this. Was pretty hectic, but the game was an outright blast (I think I can count the number of people in my class who made it to the Emperor's Castle on one hand, but none of them ever went head to head with the guy).

Bandu 2012-08-03 0 point DOS version

I want to download karateka game

Budman 2011-01-07 0 point DOS version

loved this game.

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DOS Version

DownloadEnglish version 116 KB DownloadQuader's Release English version 4 MB ManualEnglish version 404 KB

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Apple II Version

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Commodore 64 Version

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