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HERZOG

Author : HERZOG

-- Playing video games since the 80's ! --

Still trying to translate all the posts from my old blog. Please see this post for more info.

Also, please excuse any grammar and any other related errors you may find on this blog, as English is not my first language.

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KNUCKLE JOE

FIST OF THE WHAT STAR ?

KNUCKLE JOE is an obscure arcade action game from the mid 80's. Like other contemporary arcade releases, the game suffers from a frustrating difficulty and low production values.





Title: ナックルジョー
Genre: Action
Release Date: 1985
Developer: SEIBU KAIHATSU
Publisher: TAITO
Media: Arcade System Board
● System Specific: Unique Hardware



INTRODUCTION

There certainly wasn't a shortage of arcade fighting action games back in the 80's. The earlier ones that came around 1985 in particular were noted for their punishing difficulty, imprecise controls, and just overall cheap design.

Probably the best example of this would be the hit arcade game 「SPARTAN X」 (also known as 「KUNG-FU MASTER」) which demanded nothing less than perfection from players.

Still, I think you would have it very hard to find another arcade action fighting game of that time as poory designed and as blatantly cheap as KNUCKLE JOE.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find much release information and impressions about KNUCKLE JOE, which leads me to believe it was given a very limited distribution. Not surprising given the abysmal quality of the title.

GAME INFORMATION

In KNUCKLE JOE the player assumes control of the bare-chested and bare-footed bad-ass JOE who's come to a city where the 「DEVIL'S GREW IN POWER」.

The introductory screen might give you the impression that the game will take place in a cool post-apocalyptic setting out of the likes of  HOKUTO NO KEN. However the stages really don't look any different from an ordinary American city, which is disappointing.

The stages themselves aren't truly side-scrolling neither. The screen does scroll a bit to the sides but the experience is essentially single screen.

kjoe_01.png  kjoe_02.png

JOE is substantially easier to control than Kanfu Master THOMAS from SPARTAN X. He can puch, kick, and jump with satisfying speed. Jumping around can be somewhat imprecise but other than that there really aren't any serious control issues.

The main problem with this game (apart from the terrible production values, that is) lies in how blatantly it wants you to lose at all cost.

In order to clear a stage you must defeat a certain amount of enemies within a set time limit. The problem again is that the game really doesn't want you to.

kjoe_04.png  kjoe_05.png

Unlike in SPARTAN X the enemies here won't be going down with a single strike. Attempting to just exchange blows with them however will only lead to your unavoidable demise since any hit you receive in return will take a good chunk off your health bar and there's no health replenishment items in the game.

You could try to defeat the enemies using hit & move tactics, but then you most definitely will be running out of time since the time limit in this game is just ludicrous. You have only 70 seconds to clear a stage which it's nowhere near enough time for the task. Hell, even if JOE were invincible you'd still be hard pressed to clear most levels under such an strict time limit.

These issues become even worse during boss battles. As it is to be expected bosses can take a fair amount of punishment, and trying to hit them enough times before time runs out and while taking care of not getting pounded yourself can be extremely difficult.

kjoe_06.png  kjoe_07.png

There's a total of 4 levels in the game, each comprised of 3 sub-stages. I seriously doubt that somebody ever managed to get even halfway there back when the game was originally released, though. The game is just that cheap.

Between levels you'll also get to play these short motorcycle shooting segments, but just like the rest of the game they aren't all that fun to play.

CLOSING COMMENT

KNUCKLE JOE is a terribly designed game. Whether it's the busted difficulty setting or the awful 5 seconds long BGM track that loops endlessly - the game seems it was created only to annoy the crap out of any potemtial players.

But perhaps the worst part about the game is that it lacks any sort of redeeming quality. At least in SPARTAN X it was gratifying to take down punks to the now classic sound of 「ATTAAA ! ! !」. And you also got this nice sense of accomplishment (and relief) whenever you managed to get past one of the game's floors.

In the case of KNUCKLE JOE however, you can't help but wonder if the programmers even played their own game because it's just not fun at all.

kjoe_08.png

S E E  Y O U  N E X T  G A M E !

(C) SEIBU KAIHATSU / TAITO 1985

2013.05.01 16:36|ARCADEComments:0Trackback:0▲TOP

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70's One-Hit-Wonder rockabilly band CAROL and their hit single 「FUNKY MONKEY BABY」from the OST of the film 「SUKEBAN : MANO-A-MANO」from 1974.

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