International Karate / International Karate +

International Karate was originally released in 1985 for the ZX Spectrum. The later version for the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit computers were superior to the original, and are noted for their solid playability and high production value. The later introduced International Karate + was released in 1987, adding a third karateka, making for an impressive 3 fighters on screen at once. The defining soundtrack for International Karate was written by Rob Hubbard (definitely one of the game's strong points)!

Karate Champ had nothing on International Karate.

In the original game, players take control of martial artists competing in a kumite tournament. Instead of health bars, fighters score points on one another. When a point is scored, the match stops and both fighters return to their starting position. Attacks can either score a half point or full point depending on the attack. Only two points are required to win in the original game, but International Karate + requires 6 points to win, making for longer battles. Bonus games were also introduced in International Karate + which happened after every two rounds, ranging from deflecting bouncing balls to kicking away bombs.

The "Pong" bonus game was hella fun... and pretty tough. 

The original International Karate featured 5 different stages... Sydney, New York, Rio de Janiero, Beijing, and Giza. The later International Karate + only one stage. However, it is well animated and different parts of the backdrop can even be re-colored by players using specific keystrokes. The characters were generic of course, but their animations are what made them stand out. The amount of moves that they could perform was undoubtedly impressive, and the collision detection & ouch factor was rather solid for the time.

3 player battles! ...this game was ahead of its time!


Page Updated: February 3rd, 2020
Developer(s): System 3
Publisher(s): System 3 
Designer(s): Archer MacLean
Platform(s): Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, Amiga, MS-DOS, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Wii Virtual Console
Release Date(s): 1985                                  Spectrum
1986                                /   Commodore 64
Mar. 28th, 2008          Wii Virtual Console
Feb. 23th, 2009           Wii Virtual Console
Characters N/A

Featured Video:

Related Games: Yie Ar Kung Fu, Street Fighter, Fatal Fury, Street Smart, Art of Fighting

Gameplay Engine  8.5 / 10
Story / Theme  7.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.5 / 10
Animation  8.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  10 / 10
Innovation  7.0 / 10
Art Direction  7.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  9.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.0 / 10
Characters  7.0 / 10

 8.7 / 10

 Review based on Commodore 64 version     


Final Words:

Listen, if you were playing International Karate in 1986/1987, you were a badass (and you're still a badass).  In fact, if you're reading this... contact me and say hey, because holy shit, we're old school and we should reminisce. C'mon, for a fighting game in the 80's, International Karate was superb in more ways than one. Not only did it have great animation & graphics, but the solid gameplay system could keep you playing for hours on end.

Also.... The (10-minute) theme song is beyond brilliant, and still insanely catchy (see featured video) to this day. When I was a kid, I remember having that song stuck in my head hours after playing the game. I'm mean, it's pretty intricate music... especially for a 5 or 6-year-old kid to be enjoying. In retrospect, I think this song alone might've jump started my appreciation for digital music at a young age. Thanks for that, Rob Hubbard.

Before the days of fireballs, shoryukens and fatalities; games like International Karate and Yie Ar Kung Fu ruled the roost. For a fighting game in the late 80's, this was nothing short of the total package.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen  

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