Karate Master 2: Knock Down Blow is a flawed game that is carried almost completely by its surprisingly good combat. Here, I’ll look at some improvements that could be made for Karate Master 3, if Crian Soft decide to continue the franchise.
First on the list for me is an overhaul of the minigames. The minigames to recover in your hospital bed and earn money at work are tedious. They happen too often and there’s no form of challenge or engagement. I honestly don’t think they’re needed at all. If they want to persist with this idea though, it would be a good idea to try and make them more fun - have different objects to load that spawn in different places, or have the player load a variety of vehicles, for example.
Lighter Mini Games
What’s worse, though, is that the training minigames are torture on your hands. Some of them require you to mash all 4 action buttons, meaning that you need to adopt some weird octopus-type grip on the controller. I think that the training mechanic could be improved greatly if more of them relied on performing combinations or dodges and movement, rather than swapping between button mashing and wiggling the analogue sticks.
There’s no character customisation in Karate Master 2. It would be great if Crian Soft added a basic character creation module for the third game. They already have models for different skin colours, so it shouldn’t be too hard to let the player choose one of these. They could also add a shop to the game map that will allow the player to spend money on cosmetic items - different coloured karate uniforms, headbands, hairstyles, for instance.
Where are the Female Heroines?
Leading on from this - there are no female characters in the game, at all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing diversity in the player’s choice of gender, and in 2015 it’s a little disappointing that the only choice is available is a muscled-up Ken-like character.
Quality control doesn’t appear to be Crian Soft’s strong point. There are spelling mistakes and bad translations everywhere. Likewise, there are issues with the windowed mode in the options menu that actually break the game until you restore it to full screen. These are basic issues that could easily have been fixed with a little more time and attention, and there’s no reason why this area of the game can’t be improved next time around.
I’m a stickler for configuration options. Karate Master 2 lacks basic sound, resolution and graphics options. Further, there’s no way for players to customise their control scheme - which is especially harsh on those that are relying on the keyboard to play. This is an area in which Karate Master 2 falls far short.
Available on: Windows, PC Download
Check the Basics
You may have noticed my comment about the poor translation and spelling mistakes that made it into the game. It took me a while of playing to figure out whether they were meant as humour or if they were just accidental. I am 99 percent sure that they’re accidental, even if some are unintentionally hilarious. I would suggest for Karate Master 3 that Crian Soft work with someone who can use their translations as humour, as I find the personality of Karate Master 2 falls a little flat, and sometimes really awkward - I know the game is trying to be serious, but the translations sometimes leave me not knowing exactly how to react.
More Ways to Earn
One thing that Karate Master 3 will certainly need is alternative methods of earning money. This could be done by adding some prize money to be awarded depending on your performance in competitions. They could also add some reworked minigames that give you money, too - making use of some of the training exercises here and turning them into competitions - such as breaking blocks of wood or bricks within a set time limit, giving the player more money for each block broken.
Karate Master 3 would benefit from a moves list in the pause menu. This is a staple of fighters, from Mortal Kombat to wrestling games. There’s a lot of depth to the combat system that currently a lot of players will likely never realise exists, and that’s sad - because it is a good combat system that works very well.
Fighting Styles to Challenge Karatekas!
Perhaps they could expand on the fighting styles available, too. Streets of Rage had a boxer, martial artist and judo expert to choose from. They could look into adding the option for people to use or come up against Jiu Jitsu, Judo, or kickboxing.
I feel that the beat ‘em up genre is currently missing a classic plot akin to Streets of Rage. Now that our character has become a champion Karate master, perhaps the next instalment could be built around them defending the city that they’ve conquered - to build on the aspect of saving its citizens from a raging bull and rampant bear. Bring a criminal underworld into it and focus on character development. It would be hard to justify a sequel where the player merely ends up going through the same routine of progressing from tournament to tournament.
Play with or Against Your Mates
The final suggestion I have is for Crian Soft to work multiplayer modes into Karate Master 3. I appreciate that this may be out of reach for a studio so small - but it is one of the more often requested improvements on the Steam forums, so there’s clearly a demand for it. Allowing local multiplayer could be a good start. Two players could work through the storyline at the same time, competing in the same competitions as each other and fighting for prize money and fame. They could also incorporate the new fighting styles I suggested earlier into the multiplayer to improve the variety in match ups.
So there’s my list of possible improvements for Karate Master 3. There were a lot of things I didn’t like about Karate Master 2 - but I feel if they incorporate some of these additions and improvements, they could come up with a real surprise hit the next time around.