Kick to the NESticles #1: Kart Fighter
System: Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Date: Unknown
Genre: 2D Versus Fighter
Players: 1-2 (Versus)
Other Platforms: None
Emulator Used: FCE Ultra 0.96 & Nestopia 1.08
Starman: Nintendo was pretty strict in their policies when it came to the NES. They had such things as no 3rd party developer could release the same game on a rival system, no adult content and especially no unlicensed games. A lockout chip combined with the mighty Nintendo Seal of Approval meant that every game you got (good or bad) for your NES was made at the Nintendo factory with their own chips.
Companies such as Color Dreams and Tengen found loopholes and so did a ton of people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc. Bootlegs started to fill those markets with beyond terrible games labeled towards whatever was big at the time. Sometime after the release of Street Fighter II and Mario Kart; one such "hacker" decided to exploit the love for both games. Before Super Smash Bros. there was Kart Fighter!
Normally I wouldn't even bother with an unlicensed game since most either don’t work or are just too unplayable, but Kart Fighter is one of the few that actually has a small level of enjoyment; like having sex with a fat chick. You still get to blow your load but more often than not it's not pretty.
Kin Corn Karn: Straight out of Shin Miyamoto's darkest nightmares comes Kart Fighter, an unlicensed Mario game for the NES. Don't let its opening screen fool you; this is not a cart racing game, but an actual fighting game. Well, sort of.
You are given the choice of eight fighters – Mari (Mario), Luigi, Kopa (Bowser), Okonoko (Koopa Trooper), Peach (not sure, but looks a hybrid of Peach/Daisy), Kinopio (Toad), Monkey (Donkey Kong Jr.), and Yossy (Yoshi). No real story (or point) to the game. Basic Street Fighter set up. Just picture Smash Bros., without the graphics, sound, playability, or fun.
Starman: Well it's the NES, so you already lose some points there. The NES was never known for stunning visuals and Kart Fighter does not break this assumption. The title screen instantly reminds you of Mario Kart if you played it and much of the sprites appear to be hand drawn by a 4 year-old suffering from cerebral palsy. In this game, you can choose from eight different characters, Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong Junior, Koopa Troopa, and Toad. Donkey Kong (just known as Donkey on the game) appears to be mildly retarded and rocking a gay pride shirt while Princess Toadstool (Peach) is about as sexy as Barney the Dinosaur. I apologize if fat purple dinosaurs actually do turn you on and please seek professional help. All of the fighter sprites miss a few pixels of color but for something made in the back alley of Hong Kong, it could be worse.
The backgrounds are recognizable to any Mario fan and make some sense. The big problem I have is the whole game has sprite flashes that sometimes bother the eyes. Something to do with how the sprites were put together, I ran it through two emulators just to make sure, yes, it still sucks.
At least punching Peach in the face looks just right.
Kin Corn Karn: The one redeeming part of this game. You can actually tell who all the characters are just by looking at them. The sprites are actually quite large, and have good detail for a NES game. Although severely choppy animation often breaks up the sprites (animation looks like a druken Parkinson’s victim in an earthequake). This is too bad, as the graphics were nice.
The backgrounds vary from quite nice to horrid. The first level is a desert that is one basic color. It really hurts the eyes to play it too long. But then you get levels like the Yossy level with nice mushrooms and at night, and the Peach level that is I think the coin heaven from previous Mario games. These are nice, but pixel breakup again kills it.
Starman: Music was ripped from a few games including Mario Kart and Little Nemo: The Dream Master. I suppose game pirates really didn't have the time or resources to compose original pieces; it's not that bad but there’s no variety.
Sound effects are pretty bland and nothing to write home about. It does the job for a bootleg fighting game.
Kin Corn Karn: The music in this game is actually sampled and ripped from other games. The music can get annoying rather quickly. No level specific music. After a bit I turned the sound off so my ears didn't bleed.
The effects (what few there are), just plain suck. You have one generic sound for attacking, and no noise when you hit the opponent. Quite honestly, I have heard better (and more) sound effects from an Atari game.
Starman: There's a punch and a kick, with only 2 buttons on the NES controller you’re not going to have various styles of these maneuvers. It plays much like Street Fighter II in terms of movement, but you don't have any ability to block. You can even toss out some fireballs and dash attacks using half-motions with the D-pad or charging respectively. If you played any versus fighter you get the basic idea, the moves aren’t that hard to pull off.
Kin Corn Karn: You have virtually none. One button punch, one kick, up to jump, down to duck. That's it. You can do some special moves ala Street Fighter, but they are difficult at times, and getting them to hit is another story.
Trying to treat this as a normal fighting game in terms of control yielded me with nothing but a desire to put my head through the TV. With the worst hit detection you may ever see, you often times wonder how the fuck you got thrown when you went at the opponent with a jump kick. Honestly seems like a five year old with dyslexia programmed the controls.
Starman: You fight people. That's really all there is to this game, and it has no end. I went through all the fights; the difficulty never ramped up and if I didn't hit the close button I imagine I would still be playing. You eventually hit a score screen; no “thanks for playing” or “a winner is you”. It's not a hard game by any means. The player will always triumph over the AI for the AI is dumb (thank you Spaceballs). You will suffer a lot of cheap hits and after 3 rounds you'll find none of that Street Fighter II charm.
Kin Corn Karn: I think the same kid from the control did the game play. Horrid, choppy animation and confusing game mechanics make this thing harder to sit through than Batman and Robin. *shudder* The only way to get anywhere in the game is to be cheap. Characters have the same basic AI (uber retard), and just jumping and attacking, or just walking toward and hitting, moving back, and repeating can beat most. Oh, what fun.
There were many times in this game where I was wondering how in the hell I was hit or hit somebody. Cheap and often illogical hits that defy the laws of physics are the bread and butter of this title.
Starman: I find none. With no ending; really, what's the point? I guess as a bootleg it stands above all others, but unless you're playing a drinking game with buddies this game really has no replay value.
Kin Corn Karn: None. When you are through with the agony of trying to figure out how play this, erase this game, and set your computer on fire. I would get a memory wipe of it, but then I would forget its existence and may download it again not knowing what it was. Once in a lifetime was enough for me.
Starman: I have played a lot of pirated games in my day, I am a masochist in that sense. At the end of the day, surprisingly Kart Fighter stands out as the most original (at the time) version of NES bootlegs and would later inspire Super Smash Bros. (though I am sure Kart Fighter wasn't even on the minds of the makers). I'll give it a 2.5 out of 5 for effort. It'll be hung up on the NES refrigerator; Cony Soft tried really hard to make a decent bootleg.
Kin Corn Karn: What a terrible mess. Even some nice graphics did not save this game from making me sad in ways I haven't felt in years. I actually played through all characters and levels, and you know what I got at the end? NOTHING! It went to the score screen. WTF? Not even a Contra screen thank you. There is no point to this game, and was only created to punish your soul. I give it 1 out of 5.
Trivia: Many of the bootleg fighting games for NES were based on the TMNT: Tournament Fighters engine also found on the NES.