Review Information
Reviewer Name: Ian
Reviewer Email: ian@sega8bit.com
Game Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Options: False
Game Information
Full Title: Black Belt
Year Released: 1986
Game Type: Fighting
Max Players: 1
Introduction


Ahhh, Black Belt. I loved this game as a kid. Funny thing is, I donít think I ever owned it. I used to play it at a cousins house on occasion. But as I only did play it rarely it made it all the more new and exciting to play. Itís one of the systemís earliest titles and still very playable to this day. You play as Riki, a black belt master in some form of martial art. You girlfriend has been kidnapped by your arch-rival Wang and you must fight your way through several stages and bosses to get her back. Not exactly original, I know.
Gameplay
I love a good side-scrolling beat-em-up and this game doesnít disappoint. You work your way from left of the screen to the right, defeating an army of bad guys using an array of attacks including punches, kicks and flying kicks. You have a life bar which allows you to take several hits, which is good because itís easy to get your ass kicked. Youíve always got several enemies coming at you and precise timing for your attacks is required to get through the levels as unscathed as possible. Your standard enemies are defeated with one blow but during the levels you will come up against mid-bosses, who usually wield weapons and are harder to defeat. During the levels you will also come across power-ups such as health and invincibility which you must super-jump to get to. My favourite part of the game though, is the big boss battles. When you finish a level the action zooms in and you fight one-on-one with the levelís big boss. They are all very different and require finding their weak points to beat them, which I think is an excellent and interesting concept. Generally, the action is fast paced, frantic and great fun.
Graphics
Being one of the systemís earlier titles you canít expect much in the way of graphics but theyíre not bad at all. Everything is clear and the game runs at a smooth pace. Thereís a good variety of enemies and the large sprites on the big boss battles are impressive. There isnít too much in the way of animation, but what I will say is that seeing your enemy explode into pieces when you deliver a swift punch to their head is one of the most satisfying gaming experiences Iíve ever had. Seriously, itís probably the reason why I like the game so much. The only real downer is the backgrounds, which are pretty bland and constantly repeat.
Sound & Music
Thereís always music playing throughout the game, which to me is a good thing. The main tracks are the title screen, one for the main levels, one for the big bosses (my favourite) and one for the ending. Theyíre all good and easy to listen to but none of them are really memorable. The sound effects are all there. You hear the swipe noises when you attack and the enemy exploding noise goes equally well with the graphic. They all blend together to give a solid overall listening experience but it never really stands out.
Controls
No problems here. A button for a punch and a button for kick. The directional pad moves you left and right, down makes you crouch and up makes you jump. I guess itís slightly unusual to press up to jump but you get used to it quickly. Also, pressing down and then up quickly makes you super jump, which is very useful. Itís very responsive and allows you to deal with the quick-moving enemies. Another thing people may not be used to is the lack of ability to move in the air once youíve jumped. This can make jumps feel a bit stiff but once again, you get used to it quickly enough.
Replay Value
Scores
Gameplay
Graphics
Music & Sound
Controls
Replay Value
This is one of those games that, which I feel, is easy to pick-up-and-play but difficult to master. Iíve always come back to this one. I find it great fun dispatching of countless bad guys and making them explode during the levels and then getting a good challenge against the big bosses. It takes quite a few goes to finish this game when you first play it. The final boss is an epic battle and makes the game the more satisfying to complete. Always good for a quick SMS gaming session.
Conclusion
Black Belt, in my books, is a classic. This is a great little beat-em-up with fast-paced action and a challenging difficulty level. Iím quite a fighting-game buff and the lack of this genre in the SMS library has always been disappointing to me. Luckily this game is here to fulfil my need for chop-socky action (and making people explode). Itís definitely one you should own and is very easy to find. Overall, very solid and enjoyable.
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