High Kick to the Past: The Karate Kid NES Review

Welcome to our review of The Karate Kid NES game. The Karate Kid is a side-scrolling action game that was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Designed by LJN Toys, the game is based on the popular 1984 movie The Karate Kid. The game is set in the world of the movie and allows players to control the protagonist, Daniel, as he fights his way through various levels, including the Cobra Kai dojo.

In this review, we will explore the game’s gameplay mechanics, graphics, sound, story, characters, difficulty, and replay value. Our goal is to provide you with an in-depth understanding of The Karate Kid NES game, covering everything you need to know before playing it. We will also provide a rating and recommendation for the game at the end.

Before we delve into the game itself, let’s take a brief look at the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), as it plays a significant role in the history of gaming. The NES was released in 1985 and is widely considered the most successful video game console of the 1980s. It revolutionized the video game industry and introduced many classic games, including The Karate Kid. So, let’s kick off and see what this game has to offer!

The Karate Kid NES Review: Gameplay Mechanics and Controls

The Karate Kid NES game provides an immersive experience that requires precise and timely inputs from its players. The controls are comfortable and easy to understand. The characters’ movements are smooth and responsive, and collision detection is spot-on. The game’s difficulty level is gradually increased as you progress through the levels, providing a challenging yet rewarding experience.

Combat mechanics and moves in The Karate Kid NES game simulate realistic fighting moves and stances. Players can execute moves like punch, kick, jump-kick, and block, which can vary depending on the character’s position and direction. Each move can be used to perform devastating combinations and finishers that increase the player’s score.

The game has different levels and objectives that provide variety in the experience. The player’s objective is to guide Daniel-San through different levels and face different opponents, mostly members of the Cobra Kai dojo. The game’s excellent level design is varied, and each level presents a unique objective to move forward. The game will require players to sweep the leg of opponents or catch flies with chopsticks and fight against the enemy sensei in the end.

All in all, The Karate Kid NES game delivers a fantastic and engaging gameplay experience. The controls are intuitive, the moves are diverse, and the combat mechanics are solid. The game’s different levels and objectives provide a variety of challenges that will keep the players motivated to progress. In the next section, we will examine the game’s graphics and sound.

Graphics and Sound

The Karate Kid for the NES boasts beautiful visuals and animations that perfectly capture iconic moments from the movie. The different levels are beautifully designed and do a great job of immersing players in the world of The Karate Kid. The different moves and attack animations are particularly impressive, and the attention to detail is remarkable.

The sound effects in the game are an integral part of the gameplay experience, adding a sense of realism to each punch, kick, and block. The music and voice overs are also noteworthy, perfectly encapsulating the feel and tone of the movie. It’s impressive how the developers managed to recreate such a well-known score that gets the player in the right mood for the game.

In comparison to similar NES games, The Karate Kid stands out with its high-quality graphics, animations, and sound. In other games from this era, the graphics are often pixelated or choppy, and the music is repetitive and forgettable. However, The Karate Kid manages to avoid these pitfalls by delivering a visually stunning game with a fantastic soundtrack. The cohesive design and attention to detail make this a game worthy of any NES collection.

Story and Characters

The Karate Kid NES game is a classic side-scrolling action game that revolves around the events of The Karate Kid movie. The player gets to control Daniel LaRusso as he takes on bullies and wins the All-Valley Karate Tournament, ultimately defeating his nemesis, Johnny Lawrence. The game follows the same storyline as the movie and allows players to relive the iconic moments that made The Karate Kid a fan favorite.

One of the most impressive aspects of The Karate Kid NES game is the way it has translated the characters of the movie into the game. Daniel and Johnny are both accurately depicted, with each character having their unique moves and abilities. Players will be able to experience the characters’ motivations and personalities through their actions in the game.

When it comes to the game’s antagonist and protagonist dynamics, the game does an excellent job of portraying Johnny and Daniel’s rivalry. Johnny is the stereotypical 80s bully, cocky and ruthless, while Daniel is the underdog determined to overcome the odds. The game encapsulates their unique development throughout their confrontations and accurately presents their contrasting personalities, which makes the game even more enjoyable for fans of the movie.

Comparing the game’s storyline to other Karate Kid media, it remains faithful to the original plot, with slight tweaks to fit the platform. The Karate Kid NES game proves to be a genuinely immersive experience for those interested in the movie. It is a great way of reliving movie moments, which is magnificent considering its level of detail in storyline and character development.

Difficulty and Replay Value

Karate Kid was definitely not an easy game. It was known for its difficulty level, and players had to have patience and dedication to beat it. The game was designed to be challenging, and it required both strategy and skill to progress in the game.

In this game, players are tasked with mastering different combat moves and advancing through multiple levels filled with obstacles and enemies. The game’s difficulty increases as the player advances, and the final boss battle can be especially challenging.

Despite its difficulty, many players found themselves thoroughly enjoying the game. It had great replay value, with players wanting to beat their own high scores, attempt to finish the game with increased difficulty levels, and try out different combat moves to see how the enemies reacted.

Compared to other challenging NES games, Karate Kid stood out as a unique and memorable experience. Its use of real-life combat moves, characters from the iconic movie, and difficult gameplay made it one of the most popular NES games of all time.

Overall, Karate Kid’s difficulty and replay value made it an all-time classic game. Players appreciated the game for its challenge, dedication required to succeed, and the sense of satisfaction that came with beating it.

Conclusion and Overall Rating

After delving into the ins and outs of The Karate Kid NES game, we feel qualified to provide our conclusion and final rating. The game certainly brought back memories of our childhood with nostalgia for the 80s and its timeless storyline.

Regarding gameplay mechanics and controls, The Karate Kid NES is one of the better games to come out of that era, despite its age. The game feels clunky, but the controls are intuitive and easy to understand.

The graphics, animations, and sound effects are decently represented when compared to other games from the same period. However, the music themes stand out as having a lasting, memorable quality.

When analyzing the game’s storyline and characters, the story does follow the movie’s plot. Despite minor deviations, it still manages to capture the essence of the movie. Additionally, the game’s final boss battle is a highlight of the game’s storyline.

The game undoubtedly has a high difficulty level, making it rather challenging to complete. Nevertheless, the replay value is relatively low, which may result in a few playthroughs before feeling tired of it.

All things considered, The Karate Kid NES has its flaws, but the game remains an essential representation of the 80s gaming era, focusing on a licensed IP. For that reason alone, we rate it 7.5 out of 10. We recommend it to lovers of the Karate Kid franchise and the NES system, but casual gamers may struggle to find enjoyment.


  1. What is The Karate Kid NES game?

    The Karate Kid NES game is a video game adaptation of the classic movie, The Karate Kid, developed and published by LJN in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

  2. What are the different levels and objectives in the game?

    The game includes nine levels, each with different objectives such as defeating enemies, breaking objects, and reaching the end of the level. The final level requires players to defeat the game’s main antagonist, Sensei Kreese.

  3. How does the game compare to other similar NES games?

    The Karate Kid NES game features unique gameplay mechanics and controls, standing out from other NES fighting games at the time. However, it has been criticized for being too difficult and repetitive compared to other popular NES games of the era such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.

  4. Does the game follow the storyline of the movie?

    The Karate Kid NES game follows the storyline of the movie to some extent, but the game features additional levels and enemies not seen in the movie. Some aspects of the game’s storyline also differ from the movie.

  5. What is the game’s replay value like?

    The Karate Kid NES game has moderate replay value due to its challenging difficulty level and different levels of difficulty. Players can also compete for high scores and complete the game multiple times to unlock different endings.

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