Yie Ar Kung-Fu

Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting... against the computer, because we can't have everything.

Source // Wikipedia

Fighting games and I have a bit of a distant relationship. I don't avoid them, but nor do I seek them out. I did get some early titles in the Tekken series back in the day, but I wasn't terribly good at them. Before that, getting wrecked by older cousins at the likes of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter (and not even the good Street Fighter, but Street Fighter: The Movie) was a common gaming experience.

Long before all of that though, in the arcades of the mid 1980s stood a Yie Ar Kung-Fu cabinet, the first glimpse at what the fighting genre could offer.

The screen alone shows a familiar layout, with health bars replacing hit points after hit points had replaced one hit kills. Backgrounds were fancy but not in your face, and while the characters were small and the screen doesn't scroll, it's one on one, no nonsense action until one of you falls over.

The more I read about Yie Ar Kung-Fu, the more interested I got to play it.


Which is thoroughly disappointing as I currently can't play it, but it's sure marked down as unplayed on my list. I will return to this one... I'll find out for myself if the hitboxes are as unforgiving as some say, or that bouts descend into trampolining sessions as you jump, jump and jump some more, looking for an opening.

There's no two player option either, so while it looks like the birth of the fighting genre, or a solid marker in its history at least, it does have a few important things missing...

Fun Times

YouTube - as ever - was my fall back plan, where you can see how a single player in Yie Ar Kung-Fu fares against the 11 opponents they face, each with their own fighting style, strengths, and weaknesses.

They may have weapons and attack patterns you don't have access to, but the fundamentals of your Kung-Fu training should serve you well. A joystick, a punch button and a kick button are all you need to perform 16 different attacks, at that on screen indicator showing your direction should help you out when deciding what to go for - assuming you know what each of those attacks are and what they do.

Each hit takes away a pip of your or your opponents health bar, so they're all equal in damage - we'll see the genre mix that up soon enough, I'm sure. Knock out your opponent before he - or she - knocks you out and it's onto the next one.

Couldn't make it any simpler, really.

Final Word

It's a short, predominantly single player game that lacks many key features, but Street Fighter V- sorry, Yie Ar Kung-Fu is an otherwise solid game that'll keep you hooked for a while at least... is what I'd probably say if I could actually play Stree-sorry, Yie Ar Kung-Fu right now.

The fighting genre is still very much in its infancy, but going through the history of gaming chronologically shows the little additions here and there that turn out to absolutely nail something and stick around for years on end.

I didn't have a clue what Yie Ar Kung-Fu was (though I'm sure I could have guessed), and certainly didn't know what it contributed to gaming. How many other gamers do you know with a similar story? I bet we all share it for most genres of gaming, except perhaps the ones we're really into.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu is a benchmark, a milestone, a turning point - whatever you want to call it, it's important, and worth a play. He says, having not played it. I'm going to play it at some point. Hopefully. You should too.

Fun Facts

Your Sinclair listed the Yie Ar Kung-Fu ZX Spectrum port as the second best selling game in the UK in March 1986, behind none other the last game on the 1001 list, Commando

Yie Ar Kung-Fu, developed by Konami, first released in 1985.
Version watched: Arcade, 1985 (Retro Gaming, sleezeyweezel)