All Star Karate  (Wii, 2010) Reviews
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All Star Karate (Wii, 2010)

7 ratings (1 Epinions review)
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All Star Karate for Wii - probably not quite what you were expecting

Nov 12, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Lots of levels, good soundtrack, plays pretty well, challenging...

Cons:... nunchuck controls let it down quite badly, not always particularly fun...

The Bottom Line: All Star Karate isn't a typical karate game, but it's really not bad - just different.

All Star Karate is a game that I had thought about buying on several occasions, occasionally did, instantly dismissed it after a short play test, went back to later and found that I actually quite enjoyed it.  I think the main problems was that I was expecting something along the lines of the old 8 / 16-bit classics International Karate and its sequel IK+, and this game is nothing at all like them.  However it is actually a pretty good game.

You play a young boy or girl, who ends up becoming the student to a quirky old Sensei.  Many Karate Kid references ensue, and the plot initially follows a very similar path – train for a tournament and win it against the odds, etc.  But the storyline, as with many things about this game, is more than meets the eye.   The game itself mainly plays a bit like all those dance games that became popular towards the end of the nineties – you have to do the right move at the right time, only in All Star Karate it’s kicks, punches and blocks that you need to time according to the on-screen instructions.  While this takes a bit of getting used to (and is perhaps a little disappointing if you’d been expecting a fast-paced karate game), this actually works rather well.  Unfortunately the nunchuck controls are not very responsive, which causes a bit of frustration, but generally speaking the game provides a challenge without seeming impossible.  (I’ve tried the game with more than one nunchuck, so I’m certain it’s the game rather than the nunchuck that’s at fault here.)

All Star Karate is effectively a collection of small levels or challenges, split up according to the belt colour you’ve achieved – you start off with none, then gradually work your way towards black belt status.  There is sometimes a choice on whether you need to play particular levels or not, and for some you can progress to the next stage with even a fairly bad score (you’re grades A+ to E- for each one).  Mostly though you have to achieve a certain standard to progress to the next part of the game.  When you gain a new belt, there’s a mini-game in which you have to follow the on-screen moves to tie the belt up – fortunately you don’t actually need to succeed in order to keep the belt – I’ve never managed to actually do the belt up properly, which results in your character’s trousers falling down.  

I suppose the two-player game could be played more or less as a straight karate game like IK+, although even then combos do come into it.  In fact the game even has an editor to create your own combos.  Again the sluggish nunchuck controls rather hold the game back from being as good as it could have been, though obviously both players have the same disadvantage here.  In single-player mode, some of the combos take a lot of practice to get right, and the game isn't quite enough fun for you to always want to make that time investment.
The graphics aren’t bad, there’s a definite lack of animation in the cut scenes but it’s all quite nice and cartoony and the actual in-game animation isn’t bad.  The voice acting is reasonably good, sound effects are okay, and the game’s soundtrack rocks quite a bit,.   It’s all pretty corny and tongue-in-cheek, especially your sensei’s dialogue, and it’s quite fun in a light-hearted way.  Certainly it’s nothing to write home about in terms of aesthetics, but it gets the job done.

There are extra (always optional) mini-games if you have the MotionPlus controller, which adds a bit of value to the game.  These usually involved dream sequences and suchlike, using weapons to fend off attackers.  These are short and fun mini-games; also the change in style splits up the gameplay quite nicely.  Next time you go to the cinema, you may start watching out for ninjas jumping out of the aisles at you...

Overall it’s a bit difficult to give All Star Karate a star rating.  It’s certainly a much better game than I gave it credit for originally, and if you get into it, there are a lot of levels to get through before you can complete it.  On the other hand it never quite became addictive for me, and the nunchuck controls (specifically the forward motion) never responded as well as they should.  It’s a slightly better game if you have a MotionPlus controller with the extra mini-games.  I’m giving it 3 stars and a recommended, but don’t get it if you want a fast-paced arcade karate game.  Kudos to the developers for making their game a bit different.

PEGI Rating: 12+

Recommend this product? Yes

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