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Soft Design
Arcade: Solo beat-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K
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Rick Robson
Chris Bourne

Ai-eeee-gh-narrrrgha! If you're one of those heretics who thinks unarmed combat games are a load of chop suey, then Rainbird is fighting back with a kung-fu fury that shows there's nothing noodle under the sun. For Kick Boxing is a mega-double delight, combining the punch of pugilism with the kick of karate in a game that's more feet than fists of fury.

The scenario a that the main challenger to Mick the Meat Kicker's kick boxing crown has failed to turn up - and now's your chance, in true Waterfront (or is it Water Margin?) style, to be a contender. Stripped to the waist you have to kick, punch, duck and weave your way round what looks like an oriental garden at Kew. Your best tactic seems to be to dive in with a thunderous attack, whizz up your bonus points then skip free before Mick can redesign your fizzog. And you'll have to be swift 'cos Mick's pretty precipitous on the plates for a tub of lard.

To be honest, not much of the screen's used on game play and the sound effects of synthed slaps are sadly dull. On screen, endurance meters measure your wibbliness, the level of bout difficulty is denoted, and bonus and score points are displayed.

Although its keyboard compatible, Kick Boxing comes into its own with the sweat of mucho macho joystick jiggling. This almost compensates for the gungy graphics which tend to make Mick and yourself merge into one biffing mass once you're grappling at close quarters.

With a billion squillion equivalents on the market you might think you'd be prawn crackers to shed out - but if karate's where you get your kicks, Kick Boxing is at least worth a shufti.

Bog standard kickarama which wouldn't cut it at full price, but may be attractive to addicts.