Growing up as one of the lucky few who had both a NES and a Sega Master System, there was no shortage of Kung Fu inspired games to choose from. And while there were several traditional Kung Fu styled games, (Black Belt and Kung Fu almost made the cut this round), for my money the best example of traditional Kung Fu gaming in the 8-bit era is Kung Fu Kid for the Sega Master System. Released in 1987, KFK tells the story of Wang defending China from the evils of the recently reawakened Mandanda. It is not a perfect game by any stretch, but what is here is really damn good. The controls are simple; kick and jump. (really, really high) The enemies are repetitive throughout the stages and vary from making sense to being downright silly. The bosses however, really stand out with interesting designs and fun, if easy to remember, patterns. The graphics are bright and colorful with some really trippy backgrounds on certain stages. The overall design of the game is quite memorable, much more so than Black Belt and on par with Kung Fu. It’s simply a weird game that perfectly captures the spirit of so many great Kung Fu flicks.
Legend of the Drunken Master is a Kung Fu film fan right of passage. Released in 1978, it is one of the films credited with popularizing not only Jackie Chan around the world but also his particular brand of comedy/martial arts. The story follows Chan as he goes from being the town trouble maker to being a drunken boxing master. After getting into some relatively serious trouble in town, Wong Fei-Hung (Chan) is sent by his father to train with the notoriously brutal Beggar So. So’s reputation is such that Wong flees, gets into trouble, flees again, and eventually relents knowing that only the training of So will save him. Wong learns seven of the eight forms of drunken boxing, leaving the last off because he deems it too feminine. The film ends with Wong creating a final style all his own to defeat the evil Yim Tit-sam. The fight scenes in this film are ridiculous and beautiful, over the top silly and incredibly bad-ass all at once. Jackie Chan really was in his own league and this is some of his finest work. If you’ve never experienced this flick, you are in for one hell of a treat.