You’re Ken, you've just earned the Karate Black Belt and you want to became the best fighter and open your own Dojo. Ken will have to work, train hard and fight to earn money and reputation, only a true Karateka can become a Master and open a Karate Dojo!
Release Date: 20/03/2015
Available on: Windows, PC Download
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Today I’ll be taking a look at Karate Master 2: Knock Down Blow from Crian Soft. A game that calls back to classic beat ‘em ups of yesterday like Streets of Rage and Final Fight. It looks to fill a niche of arcade-style fighting that, aside from Injustice: Gods Among Us and Mortal Kombat, has little currently going for it. Crian Soft have made an attempt to combine a great combat system with character development and progress. The results are mixed.
What you’ll notice early on is that there’s a lot of Engrish in the cutscenes and interface. It starts out amusingly enough, but as the story progresses it clashes with the serious presentation that Crian Soft were aiming for. Training and working introduce the player to the monotonous and outright uncomfortable minigames that are spread throughout the game.
A disappointing start to the game was however offset by the fantastic combat system which provided a pleasant surprise. It’s great! It certainly isn’t a combat system that will let you off with relentless button mashing. Learning to chain combinations, practice blocking and exploiting mistakes made by your opponent are the keys to success here. It’s a fighting system with a lot of depth – you can inflict and receive temporary crippling conditions, there’s a damage meter divided into body parts rather than the traditional single bar – more like the damage system from WWE 2k15 than Mortal Kombat. The difficulty appears to increase in the later rounds of tournaments – winning first round matches are normally not a problem but the finals always seem to present an extra challenge.
Another plus is that the different tournaments offer variation to the fighting. In some you’re not allowed to hit the head, so it restricts and changes some of the combinations. In others you’ll be coming up against boxers and wrestlers with appropriate fighting styles (watch out for that German Suplex!) There is however an element of luck to the combat in the form of instant K.O injuries. This adds to the tension but some will find it frustrating.
The problems in Karate Master 2 come outside of the combat. Progression through the available tournaments require money and fame. Fame is a secondary currency that you earn by winning tournaments. Some tournament victories don’t reward you enough to progress immediately, so they’ll need to be repeated.
At the end of a tournament, your stats will increase and you’ll have access to 1 or 2 more training sessions. I’d highly recommend developing toughness and Tai Kitae (critical hit chance), as these are really the only ones that make a noticeable difference to how your character performs. Having a character capable of frequently landing critical strikes is immensely satisfying.
The story too is underwhelming. The Sensei comes out with some awkward stuff and the dialogue is clunky at best. There’s no female presence outside of eye candy which is disappointing for a game released in 2015. Character customisation is nearly nonexistent and even feels very restricted when it comes to developing your stats. Also missing is multiplayer – there isn’t even a local co-op or competitive mode. Even if they implemented a basic VS mode using the Steam servers it could have helped to develop a community and interest in the game – the combat system certainly could have carried it.
I felt that once I was properly underway in my journey through Karate Master 2 there was just about enough to keep me coming back for more. It’s entirely because of the combat, though.
Given the price point (9.99 euros or your regional equivalent), old school Japanese fighting fans should take a look. The combat will likely be good enough to carry the game for you – but prepared to be annoyed by the minigames. There’s no multiplayer of any kind, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t the game you want. There’s certainly a ton that can be improved here, and I think that Crian Soft’s insistence on forcing menial tasks upon the player means that Karate Master 2 is struggling to win on points rather than through a decisive Knock “Down” Blow.
We discuss some features that we want to see in a sequel of Karate Master 2, you may want to check it out
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Karate Master 2 Knock Down Blow is developed by Crian Soft.