As one of a legion of fans of the 1984 videogame classic, Karateka (Apple II and a host of other 8- and 16-bit platforms), I was both delighted by and cautious of the February 2012 announcement of a modern day reimagining. On the one hand, the game's original developer extraordinaire, Jordan Mechner, was going to be directly involved. On the other hand, Karateka was not your average game, so reimagining it could prove disastrous even with Mechner's involvement. As heavily stylized, Disney-esque in-game images began to roll in, along with camera angles that reminded more of a modern day Street Fighter, it seems our worst fears had been realized. So, it was with somewhat muted enthusiasm that I set the new game to download on my Xbox 360 at work to wait for me when I got home. I was sure to be disappointed. Luckily, I was anything but.
To the delight of 8-bit videogame fans everywhere, the legendary Karateka will soon be getting a reboot courtesy of original developer, Jordan Mechner, for the downloadable game services on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As we know with the long history of Archon remakes, it can take many years and iterations to finally hit on a proper remake formula, but at least Mechner is saying all the right things in interviews, trying to take direct inspiration from the original. After all, although Karateka is a type of playable martial arts film, it kept its gameplay simple and approachable, something fighting games have all but forgotten since the rise of Street Fighter II, and the related over-the-top, combo-heavy, and sometimes button mashing approaches to hand-to-hand combat.
It's Wednesday, May 25th, 2011. A day that will promptly be forgotten and wasted. I imagine when you're old, infirm, and rotting away in a nursing home tended by a robot who's stopped responding to your cries for help, you'd gladly give it all for just one more day like you're going to have today. To be young, healthy, and free, just (gasp) one more day! And on that note, news.
First off, something really neat: Depixelizing Pixel Art: Upscaling Retro 8-bit Games. It took me a little while to figure out what's going on here, but it amounts to a new algorithm that turns blocky pixel images into smooth vector images. The actual article is pretty technical, but also includes lots more cool transformations. I can see tech like this being used to "update" old games, perhaps even on-the-fly. The researchers really seem to get what they're doing, too, and believe they've "managed to capture some of the charm of the original" from the 8-bit "masterpieces." Can't wait to see what Samantha Fox will look like.