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IK+ (Game Boy Advance) artwork

IK+ (Game Boy Advance) review

"In today's world, there are plenty of old, outdated video games that are yearning to be remade on a new console. Whether they do well or not is up to the company who handles it, each one being able to bring it back in many different ways, for better or for worse. But how they can go about it depends on how the game needs to be updated. Some can stick the game in a compilation, some can remake the game much like how "Double Dragon" "River City Ransom EX" were handled. But the most dangerous by fa..."

In today's world, there are plenty of old, outdated video games that are yearning to be remade on a new console. Whether they do well or not is up to the company who handles it, each one being able to bring it back in many different ways, for better or for worse. But how they can go about it depends on how the game needs to be updated. Some can stick the game in a compilation, some can remake the game much like how "Double Dragon" "River City Ransom EX" were handled. But the most dangerous by far is to re-release the game alone with no improvements. By then, it all depends on if the game can stand the test of time.

Rather than using the mediocre European remake by Studio 3 (Known as "International Karate Advance"), AIA decided to go with a straight out port from Ignition Entertainment. Everything seems to be the same as the original, from the concept to the graphics. Heck, it even displays the original creator's name for the in-game credits!

The game places you right in the threshold of battle with two other fighters. The object is to engage in a three-fighter free-for-all, trying to land up to six hits on any two of your opponents, before they land six hits or before time runs out with you having the least amount of hits. Failure to attain the highest or second highest hit count would end the game for your character. There's also a numerical score counter to use for a new color belt (and headband),hall of fame, and tie-breaker purposes. This is one place where the game shows it's age, for you cannot edit anything except the speed of the match. And the time? A short, non-adjustable 30 seconds, a time limit that hardly compares with today's fighting games. Combined with the lack of being able to change the time limit, the matches are unacceptably short. Of course, there is no other modes besides single player and a 2 person multi player mode (Each person must have their own cartridge). Yes, no one can control the third fighter except the computer, DESPITE the Game Boy's ability for 4-player multi player. Speaking of fighters, you can only be one in the single player mode, a white-clothed karate student. Sometimes simplicity can be good, but a game that only has one mode and one character is definitely not one of those times.

The AI is very strange, to say the least. Unlike the Atari ST version, these opponents seem to have no problem ganging up on you, but they still seem to fight each other just as much. The computer also has a habit of going right in the middle of your fighter (Yes, characters can go through each other), where it is impossible for any of you to land any attacks unless the second enemy decides to jump into the fray or you jump out. But despite what it says in the manual, in case of a second-place tie and you have a higher numerical score, it always seems to give second place to the AI character, meaning (ahem...) GAME OVER. On the positive side, there are two types of bonus rounds to break up the fighting on every third level. One challenge is to use a shield to deflect balls, another is to kick bombs off the screen before they explode. These can be tough to beat, and get tougher with each bonus round. It is too bad that there is still only two mini-games.

The control can be interpreted as original for a fighting game, but original is not always good. Rather than using the "A" and "B" for the punch and kick buttons, the game uses the d-pad for all the actions. Every direction except front, back, and up is an attack, while A gives you a different set of moves. In total, there are only 13 attacks in the entire game, and this control scheme hardly works well with the GBA. The original game was meant to be played with nothing but a joystick and a fire button. Of course, a keyboard could not emulate this, and a d-pad emulates this even worse than a keyboard, so things like canceling moves seem awkward and you tend to be prone to button-mashing. In order to turn around you have to do one of three attacks, but in the midst of battle, it can have some confusion. The confusion is increased when you consider that each of the 12 attacks have their own certain point where they have to hit. And because of the lack of special or super moves, there is no excitement in pulling off a new or powerful move. Although, the developers at least kept the infamous "trouser pull" move, where you would pull down your opponents' (or your) pants, thus stunning those affected. But even this can be tough to pull off correctly. But, there is no way to edit the controls.

The graphics, like almost everything else, are the same as the Amiga version. And it is obvious that this game has not aged well when compared to future, more advanced fighting games. There is only one background, which is probably the best-looking part of the game. Taking place in front of a temple facing a lake during sunset, it has some animations like fish jumping out of the water and a rippling water effect in front of the setting sun. Although the attacks are rather smooth (For an old game), the fighters themselves are rather stoic when they are idle. The "animated" judge that magically appears to announce the results just stands in the same position with some nothing but sparks appearing around him.

The sound was translated horribly to the Game Boy Advance. For one, there is still only one song in the entire game. It just loops over and over again from the time when the game starts, up to when you turn the music or the GBA off. During the battle, all you'll hear (besides the music) are "hyah" voices (Which sound more like cats screaming) and hit sounds (Which sounds like they are hitting aluminum) along with a few sounds in the mini games, all of which sound tinny coming through the GBA's speaker.

As for replayability, a value that can easily save classic games like this, it is almost non-existent. There are no secret characters, no secret modes, heck there's not even a stinkin' easter egg that you can activate (Instead, some of the easter eggs from the original game now display randomly in the background). Even trying to attain a high score or the much-revered black belt seems pointless, since the game doesn't save any statistics or high scores. As for the multi player, good luck finding someone else with this game, for it was released in limited quantities.

IK+ was originally a game designed for the Commodore 64, but was soon remade on the more advanced Commodore Amiga, with better visuals, and the Atari ST with even better visuals along with a new mini game. IK+ was innovative, popular, and had excellent graphics during it's time. But the key word is: WAS, and to see the port like this is just sad. Frankly, I can't think of anything that can redeem this abomination of a port. Maybe if AIA released this port in a classic games compilation with more of Archer Maclean's (Creator of the original IK+, among other famous Commodore 64 games) creations or gave the game some new modes, characters, moves, and secrets it could fare better. But because this is neither, there is only one piece of advice to give out: "Don't buy any game with a tag line containing ' that really s!'"

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Community review by sonicthedgehog (December 08, 2004)

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