Yes, it back! The thwack of knuckle on skull! The crunch of falling bodies! The grunts of punched livers! Oh, you can't beat a martial arts game, and Oriental Games has to be one of the best EVER!
So what's the big gimmick that makes Oriental Games better than the horde of other combat games (seven thousand three hundred and twelve at the last count), most of which are merely poor imitations of the original and genuine Way of the Exploding Fist? For a start, there are no stupid gimmmicks: you aren't fighting deadly bunny-rabbits, fourteen opponents at a time, or giants wielding chainsaws. This is just realistic one-on-one combat, and all the better for it.
Second, you get four crunch-a-minute martial arts for your yen. The first two, karate and Ju-jitsu, are basically kicking-and-chopping events; the third, kendo, involves bashing your opponent on the head with a big stick, and the last, sumo, is that weird Channel 4 event where huge fat chaps try to push each other out of the ring after two hours chucking salt around, staring at each other and grunting (fortunately you're spared these bits in Oriental Games).
Tha scenario's a knockout competition in which up to four players take part against a total of sixteen fighters with charming names like Wong Tong, Slugger and Lu Sing compete through four rounds. Strangely enough your little man (mine was called Pong Fu) seems to be able to get magically fatter for the sumo rounds. Still, the sprites are excellent and the animation is fast, smooth and responsive, unlike some combat games where the whole thing is spoiled because you get head kicked in while you're waiting for the sprite to respond to your joystick movement.
In each event you have a different choice of moves; flying kicks, ankle crunches, short jabs, stick smacks and so on. Sumo is of course a bit different; here your aim la to grab your opponent by tha Y-fronts, and push him out of the ring. His favourite response is to try to twist you over, which is a bit of a challenge with a huge great fatty like you. As you'd expect, your progress is indicated by a strength bar at the top of the screen, and watch it carefully because a single smack on the head can take you from being on top to being out for the count.
The backgrounds are great too; a television arena, the traditional sumo basho, a seedy gambling den and a sports arena. One of my favourite features is the digitised images of the contestants, which grunt with pain when they get a smacking; strangely enough they don't look a bit oriental, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually the programmer trying for a bit of fame and glory. Good luck to him, he's done a fine job. In fact my only reservation is that you have to scan briefly through the results of the rest of the rounds, even if you get knocked out in the first. Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn if
Right! Pass the salt, I'm back to the basho for a smasho.
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Fab four-event oriental beat-em-up. Lots of variety, lots of fun.
This is the last time I partner you in the heavyweight tango championships, you fat git.
Ker-rack! You damned breakdancers are a menace, so have this the head for your trouble.