Shack's Arcade Corner: Karate Champ

Shacknews is back with another look at a classic arcade game. Today, we take a look at Karate Champ.


On this episode of Shack's Arcade Corner, we are taking a look back at Karate Champ. One of the first classic arcade fighting games, Karate Champ hit U.S. arcades in 1984. The game was developed by Technos Japan and published by Data East. The arcade cabinet didn't feature any buttons for gameplay interactions, and instead challenged users to control their characters with two joysticks. The left joystick controlled movement while the right joystick controlled the moveset. There were actually seventeen unique moves that players could execute in the games, which was pretty impressive for such an old school arcade game. Karate Champ also featured some very interesting minigames that challenged players in between rounds. The game was ported to NES in 1986 as well as some home computers. The folks at Arcade1Up will be releasing a Karate Champ cabinet later this year, in case you are looking to get back into the retro 1v1 fighting game action.

Special thanks to Arcade1Up, our promotional partner for this episode of Shack's Arcade Corner. Be sure to check out the official Arcade1Up website to find out more about their cool line of retro arcade products.

For more great videos, including interviews and gameplay, check out the Shacknews and YouTube channels.

If you have a suggestion for a future episode of Shack's Arcade Corner, please let us know in the comments section or tweet @shacknews & @GregBurke85 with #ArcadeCorner.

In case you missed any of the over 100 episodes, check out our Shack's Arcade Corner YouTube Playlist.

Video Production

Greg is the head of Video Production for Shacknews. If you've ever enjoyed a video on, it was most likely edited by him. Follow him on Twitter @GregBurke85

From The Chatty
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    February 6, 2019 4:20 PM

    Greg Burke posted a new article, Shack's Arcade Corner: Karate Champ

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      February 6, 2019 4:25 PM

      Woo! I loved this on my NES.

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      February 6, 2019 5:13 PM

      Greg! OMG, this is one of my all time favorites (I'm a 6th degree bb in TKD, so it kind of makes sense)

      Anyway! Thank you for reviewing this one, I spent so much money on this game and I still love it. I'll definitely be checking out the mini version when it comes out.

      Also - I believe there were two versions of this - one where you fought in a bunch of locations (back alley, beach, etc) and one where you were at like the world championships.

      Aww man, I was so pumped to see this, and the ending of your vid gave me goose bumps!!!

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        February 6, 2019 7:32 PM

        Thanks! Ya there was a 1 player only Version that came out first

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        February 7, 2019 12:29 AM

        I studied Korean Shaolin and received red belt with 1 gold tab! I challenge you to Mario Kart 8! I'm way too fat now to fight.

        I too loved this game and miss martial arts in general!

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          February 7, 2019 5:07 AM

          high five! but I suck at Mario Kart

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      February 6, 2019 5:41 PM

      One of my favorite control schemes.

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      February 6, 2019 5:50 PM

      It was no Yie Ar Kung-Fu but many quarters went into this one at the arcade.

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      February 6, 2019 7:40 PM

      Sadly when I was young, this was the closest I got to Karate Champ:

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        February 6, 2019 10:12 PM

        haha that game was a ton better on the Atari 800. I loved that game. :)

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          February 7, 2019 12:25 AM

          It was silky smooth on the C=64. I still preferred Way Of The Exploding Fist though.

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          February 7, 2019 5:00 AM

          I bet. I'm pretty sure the pc cga version was the worst.

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            February 7, 2019 5:29 AM

            ... and that was on a PC that probably cost $5k at the time. lol

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                February 7, 2019 5:33 AM

                By the time PCs were that cheap, VGA was the standard.

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                  February 7, 2019 5:56 AM

                  I just looked it up and it was a good year before the first VGA anything came out and VGA wasn't standard for another 2 years after that. The best you could hope for is EGA or MCGA.

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                    February 7, 2019 6:25 AM

                    Right, and back to my point — PCs (at least real IBMs) we’re still expensive af then. Haha

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                      February 7, 2019 6:30 AM

                      oh defiantly. Unless it was aimed for the home market like the Tandy 1000 line, pcs were crazy expensive. I remember looking at a 286 with 1.5 megs of ram, 10 meg hard drive and a EGA card for just over $3000.

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      February 6, 2019 8:47 PM

      Oh man I loved this game. My friends and I would skateboard down to Rose Ave and 6th in Venice to buy weed from a scary ass crack house, get stoned and skate to 7-11 and play Karate Champ all night.

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        February 7, 2019 12:39 AM

        Man I'd pay money to see that as a movie.

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      February 6, 2019 10:07 PM

      I was so obsessed with that game as a kid. I was super-terrible at it.

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      February 6, 2019 10:14 PM

      We had a Murphy's Mart with one in the front window about 10 miles from home and we'd stop there on the way back from our weekly bike trips to the comic book store and play for an hour. I don't know how we afforded it. We'd TEAR through quarters in that machine. haha

      They eventually replaced it with a Superman game, which was still pretty fun. I hated playing as the weird-colored Superman. :P

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      February 7, 2019 12:26 AM

      It was the last truly balanced fighting game*, as I point out every so often in FGC streams.
      *even then, Red was at a disadvantage just from familiarity.

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        February 7, 2019 12:40 AM

        LOL common, there was nothing wrong with SF5 Season 1 Nash and Ryu. Balanced AF.

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      February 7, 2019 12:38 AM

      Great game, predicted kicking food and dual joysticks. Way before Virtual On.

      Also loved the montage!

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