"China Warrior" is an emaciated, forced, two dimensional side-scrolling beat'em up bomb. According to the game's manual, as the "China Warrior", you are tasked with liberating Kungfu Province (really?!) from an evil horde led by Boss Kara. "China Warrior" was released as, "The Kung Fu", in Japan in 1987. Unfortunately it wasn't released for the TG-16 in the U.S. until 1989. The graphic detail of the game's protagonist and large character size was much less impressive by the time of its U.S. release, and the lack of depth, as well as redundancy of game play could not be mitigated by its intricately illustrated hero.
As an avid gamer and lover of all genre of video games, I never have a hard time discovering things to enjoy about a gaming experience. Even if the game is not one in which I plan on spending any amount of time on, I can enjoy the short time we have together while I feel it out. What can I say, I'm a prisoner of hope when it comes to gaming. That said, playing "China Warrior" was a true test of my optimism.
The silver lining to my gaming experience revealed itself after I accepted "China Warrior" for what it is, the worst game ever. Technically speaking, that does make it a superlative game, and in its commitment dreadfulness I found its underlying value. After launching the game on Console Classix and getting acquainted with the "China Warrior", I was compelled to hook my laptop up to my large flat screen and prove to my brother that I had found the worst game ever. He concurred quickly, and we enjoyed the game for over an hour. Fighting over the keyboard and whose turn it was, we supplemented the one dimensional sound effects with our best Bruce Lee impressions, and we had a blast!
"China Warrior" is a side scrolling fighting game, however it deviates from most (all?) side scrolling beat'em ups in that it is actually a forced side scrolling fighter. Kind of. The scrolling can be stopped by the player if you crouch down, stopping the player, and thus stopping the screen once the corner reaches the player. Enemies appear as the screen scrolls forward, so preventing the screen from scrolling stops enemies from appearing and is rather pointless. During a boss fight the screen will finally stop, only because fighting a boss actually necessitates backing up (I hesitate to refer to it as dodging) to avoid attacks. The only time the player needs to move during a level is to dodge stones with downward arcing trajectories, or to jump over rolling boulders.
As the China Warrior, the player has five different attack possibilities. The player may punch, low punch, front kick, jump kick, and diagonal jump kick. Avoiding attacks is done by simply moving backwards, but as previously stated, is only necessary while fighting bosses. Other enemies simply charge the character, and can be dispatched with a timed strike. Boulders and mantis' (or hummingbirds?) will charge across the screen often. Boulders must simply be jumped over, while the small highflying enemies must be ducked under, or jump kicked for points.
According to the manual there are 32 different enemies, but the truth is there are far fewer. Enemies recur in different colors with the exact same attack patterns. Many of the bosses are simply different colored versions of previous bosses. There are 13 bosses in all, including Boss Kara. A boss is encountered at the end of every sub-stage, and there are three sub-stages per stage. There are four stages, and 12 sub-stages in total.
As the China Warrior, the player will start with three lives. The China Warrior has an energy bar in the upper left hand corner of the screen. When all of the energy has been lost the player will die, using a life and restarting at the beginning of the stage that the player died on. Extra lives can be earned by stacking up points. Every enemy has a different point value. The player will receive an extra life upon earning 20,000 points, 50,000 points, and again at 100,000. After reaching 100,000 points, the player will earn an extra life for every 100,000 points earned.
A bonus screen will appear at the end of every stage. The player will have to time a punch using a strength range meter and a quickly moving line. If stopped at the top of the strength meter, the object will shatter earning bonus points. Curiously, the object that the China Warrior is attempting to destroy is a large ancient vase, no doubt of cultural and historical consequence, one of the very antiquities our hero was hired to protect. The China Warrior must be using his screaming palm-of-irony technique.