The Karate Kid (NES/Nintendo) – THE LJN DEFENDER!


My name is Matt and I review retro games. Like most of you, I’m a huge fan of the
Angry Video Game Nerd and he’s one of my biggest influences. Unlike a number of his followers, I enjoy
most of the turds he rips apart, and that is why I now don the moniker of… THE LJN DEFENDER!!! LJN, along with Ocean, is known for holding
a firm grip on the licensed property market, distributing countless games based on beloved
80s and 90s franchises. Last time, I put up a defense for Back To The Future, but I’m going to hold off on tackling the sequel for now and instead move
on to another staple of 80s cinema: The Karate Kid. The first installment in the Ralph Macchio
starring series was released in 1984 and the NES version, as with Back To The Future, came
out much later in 1987, a year after the Karate Kid Part 2 was released. Owing to this, the 8 bit iteration focuses
more on the events of the sequel than the original. The Karate Kid was one of the first AVGN episodes
and the very first LJN title featured on the show, setting a precedent for all the rage
to follow. In a fitting metaphor for his feelings on
it, The Nerd flushed The Karate Kid down the toilet. Personally, though I play Back To The Future
more, I think Karate Kid is of a higher quality and a much better developed game. Speaking of quality, remember how I teased
in the Back To The Future episode about the shocking identity of some of the developers
of these popularly held atrocities? Brace yourselves for this… The Karate Kid… was developed… by Atlus. Yes, the Atlus of Persona fame! Atlus indeed has 8 bit origins, responsible
for underrated NES gems Widget, Rockin’ Kats, and one of my childhood favorites Wacky
Races. This fact alone speaks volumes on behalf of LJN. If you’re going to accuse the company of
putting out wretched licensed cash-ins, know that you must also put Atlus in the same boat. As I mentioned before, the levels of The Karate
Kid NES mostly involve setpieces from the sequel. The tournament conclusion of the first film is the only element present and is the introductory stage. The playstyle of this segment sort of takes
after the Data East arcade hit Karate Champ. The tournament section is a breeze to advance past. There’s no leg sweeping here. Just kick and kick some more until victory
is achieved, no strategy required. James had very little to say
about this section and neither do I. It doesn’t get more basic than this. After this is where the real action begins,
level 2 “Daniel San in Okinawa”. From here on out, the tournament setting switches to a sidescrolling style so popular in the bygone days of the NES. Take the Black Box classic Kung Fu and mix
in platforms and weather hazards. The resulting mash up would pretty much be
the remainder of The Karate Kid. The sidescrolling overall is standard and
not really broken in any way. I will agree with The Nerd that Up to jump
can be quite aggravating and caused me to mistime a leap and fall to my death a number
of times. The other factor that can provide ample frustration
is the overly energetic enemies. They are just constantly up in your grill
and will do just about anything to ensure Daniel-San’s demise, even sacrifice themselves. This, even more so than the typhoon in level
3, is the biggest hurdle in making progress, so this is something that James and I are
in total agreement on. I think I remember hearing on a commentary
or somewhere that in the early days of the AVGN, James used to purposefully run into foes
in order to emphasize the difficulty. I, of course, am trying to depict the game
as it naturally is, and…James really didn’t have to play it up at all. The Karate Kid is naturally brutally difficult
due to these guys, the worst offender being the spear pushers in the final area. I HATE those bastards! Colliding with the assailants will send LaRusso
flying back, potentially into one of the death pit abysses. With jumping reminiscent of a more polished
Action 52, it can be hard enough to brave the gale force winds. Trying to do so while fending off the rushes
of mental maniacs really ramps up the challenge and yes, I dropped a few expletives which
I’ll refrain from mentioning during my capture session… but I never stopped having fun
during the hour and a half that I spent attempting to beat it. I find The Karate Kid to be far less stress
inducing than Back To The Future, especially since checkpoints are accessed across
the stages & life meter refills appear in the form of the supporting cast. Of course, this doesn’t make completion
a simple task, but it eases the burden a little. Getting back to the controls, minus Up to
jump, I think they’re well suited to the speedy nature of this very early NES licensed
tie-in, much like they were for the previously mentioned Irem title, and nobody complained
about them there. A punches, B kicks and the signature crane
kick from the film, as well as the drum punch, provide an extra powerful attack boost. See those C and D icons that constantly pop
up after Daniel-San bashes a baddie? Those manage the number of techniques
that the titular teenager has in his arsenal at any given time. They have the bonus benefit of increasing
the life meter a little every time they are collected. I never quite figured out how to do the drum
or crane during my playthrough. I could perform them, but I never knew what
the mechanics were behind them. I later found out after reading the manual on Nintendo
Age that these are simply accomplished by pressing either button without a direction,
A for the drum and B for the crane. Both techniques are faithfully depicted in
translation from the big screen to an 8 bit cartridge. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about this,
since Atlus was behind this. It goes to show that Atlus was Grade A good
since their formation. The only thing left to address are the bonus
rounds. The Nerd showed one, but there are actually
three in total. Besides “The Swinging Hammer”, there’s
“Ice Block Break” and “Chopsticks Fly Catch”. These minigames involve…breaking ice blocks
and catching flies with a pair of chopsticks. All of these are easy to learn, but tough
to master. James made them out to look near impossible,
but I was actually able to ace both the Swinging Hammer and the Ice Block Break. Don’t believe me? Check out the footage. Unlike Back To The Future, these are not required
for passage to the next area. They’re completely optional. The only reward received for completing the
bonus stages satisfactorily are extra crane and drum power ups. Back To The Future could have learned a thing
or two from the Karate Kid. In summation, The Karate Kid is average in
comparison to Contra, Metroid, and its other peers of the time, but is actually one of
the better LJN titles. The music is mostly unmemorable, but that’s a plus in my book, especially after the chaotic dissonance of the Back To The Future soundtrack. It fits the Asian martial arts theme, but
is mostly just there in the background. That in itself puts it leagues above its younger
sibling. Add in a mostly tight control scheme, overall
faithfulness to the source material, and skipable bonus stages, as well as the inclusion of
multiplayer modes, and voila! A title perfectly fit for inclusion in the upper portion
of the LJN echelon. Miles above Bill & Ted and Beetlejuice, but
not up to the standard set by Friday The 13th & A Nightmare On Elm Street. This one is definitely worth giving a second
look to, and if you still think it’s trash after a re-examination, that’s perfectly fine. At the least, you have to admit it’s better than Back To The Future. There’s nothing on par with the hell at
Lou’s Café here. Well, that about does it. At this, the end of my first full year on
YouTube, I want to thank all of you, old viewers and new, for all of the support you’ve shown
me. You’ll be happy to know that the response
to the LJN Defender has been mostly positive. I was bracing myself for a huge backlash and
troll infestation, but I never really got any. Not everyone seems to share my feelings on these titles,
but most are glad to see someone else expressing another side on the topic of the pulverized
publisher. The LJN Defender, as well as Cygnus Destroyer’s
Retro Reviews, will be back in January, sometime after the holidays. I’ve got plenty of material to keep this
show going for a long time to come. I mean, think about it… James has torn many a rainbow emblazoned cartridge
a new one over the years and he’s only covered a fraction of them. I’m just getting started on the ones that
have been featured on the AVGN, so expect many more positive spins on these debatably
terrible titles and reviews on genuinely good ones in 2014. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @CygnusDestroyer or on Facebook.com/CygnusDestroyer. I’m always open for chatting or receiving
suggestions for either series. Thanks again and I hope you all have a happy
holiday and new year, with plenty of retro gaming goodness. Take care, everyone!

99 thoughts on “The Karate Kid (NES/Nintendo) – THE LJN DEFENDER!

  1. ATLUS made a terrible game…
    I think I finally found the Atlus game I was looking for

    I kind of prefer up to jump more but I can play either way really

  2. Here is a pretty interesting story: before Karate Kid was released in 1987 November in America, Atlus had another game developed for the NES named Erika To Satoru No Yume Bouken, where the composer was the same, like here: Takayama Hirokhiko. ETSNYB was started the development in 1986 or so, and the music was done first there, with the debuting of the NAMCO163 chip. The fight theme what you can here in Karate Kid, is actually an unused track from ETSNYB. As for the game itself.. . it is not that bad, but Atlus can fuck themselves, since they YET again optimazed the video oscillator to NTSC only, thus making the game on a PAL console virtually unplayable. As for Rockin' Kats, that as quite possibly Atlus' best title if you ask me! 🙂

  3. Great review, Matt!  Your show "LJN Defender" has actually made me want to check out these games I never played when I was a kid.  Also, your review of The Karate Kid made me pick up the only copy I know that was close to me, and is now my first and only LJN game (at the moment).  I've played the game, and I actually enjoyed it.  So, points to you for getting me interested in playing these games that many consider crappy. 🙂

  4. Will this just progress into Innocent Until Proven Guilty since there are only a limited number of games that LJN published?

  5. Your awesome!! U got a new friend and I just. Subscribe! I enjoy all your videos keep up the great work!! Loved the power rangers video games reviews to!!

  6. I thought this was one of LJNs most decent games. My biggest problems were that they didn't explain how you have to 'Dodge' the swinging hammer by punching it as opposed to jumping over it (which is just natural instinct) and the typhoon level can go fuck itself. But other than that it was playable enough and it was fun kicking the asses of all those enemies.

  7. The only ljn I ever played was jaws, but damn that game sucked diarrhea rectum juice, so I assumed avgn was correct about the others

  8. LJN published several halfway decent games, and only a couple of pretty good games (like Maximum Carnage 😀 ).  I do agree that Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm St. deserve a LOT more love than they usually get…but games like Back to the Future (as well as others) probably don't.
    Though I do agree with your basic premise; "horribly mediocre" isn't the same as being "terrible" and that most of these games are genuinely playable, and possibly even enjoyable at times.    

  9. I just started subscribing to your channel.  I love to watch the Angry Video Game Nerd destroy an LJN game and then watch you defend it right after.  Maybe he will invite you on his show for an episode or you can have him on.  Oh and I love what you said about Nightmare on Elm Street.  That was one of my favorite NES games in the 90's!!  Keep up the good work!

  10. Hey LJN Defender, do you like ET (atari 2600)? because most of AVGN's fans hate it, but i don't think its bad……i mean it has it's flaws but you got to remember they had a deadline for it to be released. anyway i would love for you to review it even though its not LJN….

  11. you inspired me to give this one another try the other day and dare I say…I like it? I think going into it knowing its faults and difficulty make it a rewarding challenge.

  12. Haha, shit! Atlus started out making Wacky Races and Widget the World Watcher NES adaptations..?! I would never, ever have guessed.

  13. You understand his is more comedy based with a lot of over-dramatizations? The only part that is to be taken legit is near the end…. You took a bit much from him… You seem like a really sheltered person that is taking a comedian too serious. I enjoy you attempting to do something unique.. but don't bring up the person that you are pissed at… just make your point and leave it ;/

  14. Never heard of this guy until he was featured in The Gaming Historian documentary series. Good game reviewer here! Two thumbs up.

  15. Cool video and nice appreciation of this game. Check out my video on this game if you think it's hard!

  16. I have Super Widget on the SNES, pretty fun game. I'm going to have to play the NES one, would you say that one is better?

    I watched a few episodes of Wacky Races and Dastardly and Mutley in Their Flying Adventures about 2 years ago with a chick who loves those shows. It was actually around the time you released this video, I didn't know about your channel back then.

  17. I really like your style, I'm glad I stumbled on your channel!

    Out of the LJN titles I owned this one definitely got the most play. Surprisingly the best things about this game are it's hard difficulty, and short length. Without both of these elements, I would never have been motivated to finish it despite poor controls!

  18. You failed to mention you get an extra life every 20k points, you can farm enemies eaisly in lvl 2

  19. Not one of my favorite games but I liked this it as a kid. When I revisited a while back I didn't like it as much and didn't bother finishing but still decent. Up to jump is still weird but I've dealt with that in a few games and have gotten kinda used to it.

  20. I like this game.  It's one of those hit or misses.  You can beat it one day and fail epically the next. If you're lucky, you can get the bad guys behind you and breeze through the level since the cartridge can't handle more than 2 enemies at a time.

  21. it's funny u say how James made things look harder than they are lol. I love his channel but to b honest he's not that great at video games I always watch his James and Mike Mondays n mike is way better. good example is battletoads turbo tunnel I cab beat that stage with ease now n he barely beat it once

  22. Anyone else thinks it would be great a AVGN vs LJN defender review of a LJN game? Like in Toxic Crusaders game: James brings Cygnus to his basement and they discuss about the difficulty and crappiness of a LJN game.

  23. I love that you are the "LJN Defender" yet in both ur first episode on Back to the Future and Here, you end up also venting a bit of frustration, you are probably just a more down to earth, less easy to poke than most gamers.

    I like your honesty and your objectivity, I do enjoy the craziness of AVGN too tho, I think I was more like him as a kid myself,
    I played so much Back to the future III as a kid, yet never completed it.

  24. You also get extra points for the bonus levels. Extra points = extra lives. I see the importance of points get looked over looked a lot in reviews. The spear guy: Drum punch. I would suggest only kicking throughout the game, if you can find the right distance to kick from all the enemies go down easy, its the environment that is the challenge. I you only kick, that will guarantee enough drum punches for those spear guys. Here is a little easter egg: if you enter the glass breaking bonus stage with only one bit of health, you can't even break one glass, and a fly appears and lands on Daniel's nose. Also, if you want to exploit the game, especially on the last level, if you can get to guys to the left of your character, keep them there, no more enemies will appear and they cant touch you if keep moving

  25. I have nostalgia for 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit', but I definitely couldn't do what you're doing (defending the LJN catalog) because I don't really think the 'Friday the 13th' game actually has much of anything redeeming about it… I guess it's cool that it has a "first-person" section, but "cool" and "good" are not the same thing.

  26. I love the music, specially Daniel in Okinawa. is inspiring.
    Is a funny game for me, maybe because I like Kung Fu too 🙂

  27. After watching a few of your vids, I had to sub. I love how you give "bad" games a fair chance and I also enjoyed a number of them growing up. If you have the games, would you mind "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" – Jurassic Park (SNES) and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters (Nes) ?

  28. I got thru the ice blocks and fly catching but how in the name of Fred Fuchs ass did you get thru the swinging hammer? 😯

  29. I'm new to your channel and this game is one of my all time favorite NES games as a kid and to me it is NOT hard as everyone says it is in fact I've beaten this game without dying as a kid and recently I've done it again. This game is still fun to play.

  30. Fun fact: Toru Furuya, Yamcha's Japanese voice actor, also voiced Daniel in the Japanese dub of The Karate Kid Part II. If you think about, both characters have similar traits.

  31. I remember thinking LJN was an ok company before the avgn videos starting bringing up it all the time. i Still do think that most of there games aren't that bad and are more along the lines of average. Its really hard for me to tell if i would like this game or hate it just from watching which is strange for me since i usually can get a good idea atleast. I may buy it eventually and give it a try just in case.

  32. My brother broke my balls as a kid when i struggled to get past the first level. I then went on to beat the game and do it with relative ease after a while and he couldn't get past the second level… i had the last laugh… bastard!

  33. This is a great video. I oddly had never played this game when I was a kid, during the NES days, but I found it at my local video game store a few days ago and played it when I wasn't working these past couple of days until I beat it. Therefore, it sure seems interesting to me to stumble across this video tonight. As for the game, it's definitely enjoyable, imo, but it's just so short. When you factor in the glitch that I noticed where if you get two enemies behind you, you can lead them to the finish untouched, at least in stages 2 and 4, the game can be completed in very little time at all. I would have loved another couple of levels, at least, as well as bosses that weren't laughably easy, but oh well. It's still quite fun, so that's what counts. Again, great video, and great channel. Yours is certainly one of my favorite channels on YouTube since I found it awhile back.

  34. I came back to watch this again. Once again, I appreciate your optimism and "clean" reviews. I've got a house full of kids all of the time.

  35. Before I watched this video, I had no idea that there was Wacky Races game on the NES. I used to watch that cartoon as kid. In Japan, Wacky Races is known as, "Chiki Chiki Machine Mou Race (チキチキマシン猛レース)."

  36. Played this today. I enjoyed it, very short but fun. Though I couldn't get the timing down on the swinging hammer.

  37. If you have 3 double dragon games (Double Dragon, Double Dragon III: The Revenge, and Double Dragon III: The Scared Stones) on nes, could you review?

  38. I actually really liked this game as a kid. I only hated it because AVGN hated it lmao. This was one of the first games I completed to the end. One of my favorites 😀 You showed me points that I didn't quite realize back then like "Hey they did it in Kung Fu and no one complained".

  39. I didn't enjoy this game at all; it should have been called Karate Kid II, but whatever it's not a big deal. Your enemies just gang up on you constantly and drain your health immediately while you're bouncing back and forth like some rug doll. The baddies also respawn instantly, I hate those misfits! Up is jump is not a problem for me (Commodore Amiga experience).

  40. I like your videos. I play mostly PC games but I like retro console games also (I played some of them on emulators). I played some games considered as bad and I actually enjoyed some of them (they were rather obscure games) so I understand why you want to do justice to LJN games which most people considers as bad.

  41. Ummmmm… I don't want to be a dork, but Karate Kid 2 starts at the end of part one. Hence, the game starting with the tournament. The first Karate Kid movie probably was tough to come up with for stages, but part 2 seemed more interesting and fresh in the theaters. So.. They figured fuck it.. Let's just call it Karate Kid, because it's still the Karate Kid.

  42. One moment please. Back to the future is far a better game than karate kid, in my opinion. And since in every video you mention back to the future, I know is your favorite game of all time.
    Karate Kid is boring, nothing memorable. Not good, nor bad. Forgettable. It doen't excite us, I think.

  43. I had this as a kid and didn't find it too hard. Actually it's one of favorites. The swinging hammer was a bitch, but the other two were basically freebies. I can't see why anyone would make them out to be hard.

  44. I have this game on a bootleg cartridge, except it's referred to as "Karaki" on the game selection menu so it took me a while to find out it was there. I enjoy playing it, but I hate those spear guys and how short the game is, and I can't win at the hammer bonus stage.

  45. There is a glitch you can abuse in the final level. Only 2 enemies can spawn on screen at once. If you can get them behind you, they'll just follow you to the end boss. xP

  46. Wait, C and D?
    Those spell out initials, Cygnus Destroyer,
    It's like they knew in advance someone will defend them.
    EDIT: It was just a coincidence

  47. I'm ranked 20th on speedrun.com for this game (4:41) and I recently started a YouTube show (originally called beat it or eat it, now called Emunation, soon to be renamed Emunation's Gaminghood) and my first episode was on this game (horribly shameless plug)

  48. If you just stand in one spot and fight the enemies for a while, you can farm some extra lives and easily make it through the game. This process can be repeated anywhere in the game.

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