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Martech Games Ltd
1987
Arcade: Solo beat-em-up
£8.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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28,29
Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

As someone who got pretty confused by the dozen or so possible moves in the original Exploding Fist (a kick in the legs sufficed for most purposes) the idea of playing Judo, with its subtle sequences of offensive and defensive moves seemed pretty daunting.

It was pretty shocking then to discover that the entire range of Judo moves had somehow been reduced to Up, Down, Left, Right, Fire in UchiMata - just out from Martech.

The reduced controls are pretty misleading though, as you soon discover. To begin with there are some peculiar aspects to playing the game. For one thing all attacking moves must be initiated when an indicator box lights up on the screen. All attacking moves must being with a carefully timed grab, by pressing the Fire button. Just how successful your Judo move turns out to be depends on just how firm a grip you get. And that depends on your timing of the Fire button stab. Begin to get the picture...

To Martech's credit, it has done its very best to make the joystick movements 'like' the actual on-screen moves they control. For example a simple (?) throw called a Tomoe-Nage where you throw yourself on to the and use the force to carry the opponent over the top is achieved by pressing the Fire button and pulling the joystick back (right in this case) and down. There is a useful practice mode where an opponent stands there obligingly waiting for you to throw him over your head. It takes a good ten minutes even to master the first four move sequences and it could have serious consequences for lesser joysticks, ie they may break into little pieces.

Scoring, like Fist, is not just a matter of win or lose. Even if you successfully perform a move you may get a poor score (for a particularly crummy but successful move). Defence is more difficult, certain kinds of twisting move may get you out of trouble but its really a question of working out what sort of attacking move your opponent is making and figuring out the most successful counter move. Technically then, UchiMata scores big points.

Graphically the game is clever, but some people are going to be disappointed. The two figures are black and white, with an illusion of grey created by a simple kind of shading which makes it look as though the two opponents are wearing corduroy gis (a gi is the dressing gown thing they wear I'm told). They aren't incredibly detailed but they are animated very well and are called upon to tumble through the air at great speed.

It's a long term game this one. For a start there are moves not described in the manual and different kinds of defensive technique you can try. Later computer opponents can get very difficult to beat indeed so you'll need tons of practice.

Label: Martech
Price: £8.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

****

Not just another Fist game. UchiMata manages to simulate many Judo moves in a convincing way.

4/5