Sunday, 25 January 2015

Taekwon-Do (SNES)

Like the previously-covered Champion Kendou, Taekwon-Do is part of the mostly dead (apart from MMA and Boxing games, usually featuring real-world athletes) genre of combat sports videogames. Obviously, it focuses on the Korean martial art Taekwon-Do, and, unusally, even offers an option to play the game in Korean rather than Japanese (though, wasn't the import of Japanese videogames to Korea illegal when this game came out? I don't know).

Though there are other modes, such as a King of Fighters-esque team battle mode, and some kind of character edit/training mode that I couldn't really work out, as its pretty text-heavy, and I can't read Japanese or Korean, the main single player mode sees the player selecting a character and taking part in tournaments around the world. There are three possible ways to win a match: either knock your opponent out, knock them to the ground five times, or have scored the most points when the time runs out.

Successful attacks score one to three points each, while knockdowns and ringouts are worth five each. The score totals aren't visible until the end of each match, presumably to stop players building up a safe score and then blocking or avoiding attacks until the counter runs down. There's no visible health bar, but knockouts usually seem to be achieved by completely overwhelming your opponent with constant attacks. The game controls pretty simply: the face buttons combined with directions on the d-pad execute various attacks (mostly kicks, of course), and the shoulder buttons are held to take on different stances, and also to move up and down the mat. The sounds for attacks connecting and being blocked sound like wood blocks being knocked together, which is more effective than my description implies, and gives a very different feel to the more visceral sounds heard in regular fighting games.

Since this is an attempt at a fairly realistic martial arts sports game, the characters are all just guys in Taekwon-Do outfits, and, in fact are all head and palette swaps of the same sprite. Don't take this as a negative, though: the developers have used this fact to their advantage, as that one sprite has a ton of expressive animation. Not only are there special reaction animations to getting hit by ceratin attacks, or in certain situations (for example, a character taking a strong hit to the gut will hunch over and hold themselves for a few frames, while a character being hit mid-jump will stumble on their feet when they land), but the fighters also show various levels of fatigue, which seem to be effected by various factors, such as the character's own stamina stat, the severity of the beating they've taken and the amount of jumping and other energetic moves they've performed. By the end of a particularly fierce bout, both characters will be breathing heavily, shoulders slumped and knees starting to buckle. This depth of animation really adds a lot to the game, and I'm slightly worried I'm not doing a good enough job of getting that across.

Soyeah, Taekwon-Do is definitely a game worth looking into for those wanting something slightly different from a typical fighting game, as well as those interested in how a videogame can take its weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

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