So here we are at the first game in the Zzap64 Challenge – starting first from the Top 64 that was published in the first issue to get a few of the pre-Zzap classics, games which belonged to a different era. I sought suggestions at https://www.reddit.com/r/c64/comments/nnlbvr/which_prezzap64_games_are_worth_covering/ and on Twitter and as helpful as people were it didn’t narrow my list down much. So I set about poking and prodding a few games to see which ones to cover, as I can’t cover them all. I enjoyed quite a few but one game absolutely stopped me in my tracks.
A simple and rather humble intro screen belies a truly wonderful game, one deeply suffused with the joy of movement. Skittering across the screen at a clip, as seems the tradition with these older games, and leaping around with reckless abandon, Bruce Lee karate kicks his opponents in the face making a beautiful connection that is so often absent in the combat of other games.
When I first played I thought it was just a combat arena, not entirely understanding that I needed to collect the lanterns. Once I figured that out and understood that doing so would unlock the path to the next area I found myself leaping around, looking for quick ways to get to lanterns and drawing enemies out to sneak past them.
The first level is fairly simple, offering an introduction to the combat side of things mostly, and giving you a playground to try out the movement, and honestly as simple as it is this area is still incredibly good fun. I can never tire of kicking the little green fella right in the face.
I chose the single-player path as my wife, being a bit of a millennial, was horrified by the graphics. Personally I liked their clarity, everything the game tried to communicate to me, it did successfully, and that is in no small part due to readable screens with much care and attention put into presentation.
As you make your way further into the game so more environmental hazards come into play and the game becomes a dance of death, trying to get all those lanterns while avoiding being killed by a wide range of skewery murder-gadgets or worse still, kicked into them by the ninja or the green fella.
There’s no denying the difficulty ratchets up as the game goes on and yet it still has that compulsive one-more-go feeling. When I was making the video, in truth I could have carried on playing for hours but I know nobody wants to watch me being crap at the game for quite that long. Still, I will be playing this for many an hour away from the camera.
I’ve killed all tension already, but I make no apologies for that. Bruce Lee is absolutely utterly wonderful and I strongly urge you to go get yourself a copy, whether it be an original or a ROM or however you wish to play, but damn well make sure you do it, because this is a genuinely fantastic game. What a way to start the Zzap64 Challenge!