Real martial arts terminology with admirable themes of respect and manners set a great foundation for this very affordable Wii exclusive game, but it has some clunky interface and overall game play issues. The quick tutorial involves the traditional, stereotypical elderly expert, a.k.a. sensei, then players can move to arcade mode; move creation mode; challenge mode, which is great for practicing moves; and multiplayer mode for up to four. Players get a maximum of eight profiles beginning as a boy or girl novice.
This game presents a great workout, but some difficult moves and choppy control reaction spoil the fun. Controls involve the Wii remote and nunchuk or a two remote setup, which is best because players can try waving both at the same time for improved results. Players can review the Wii Motion Plus video before using the option MotionPlus, which predictably improves the control reaction time, often involving split-second timing.
The motion icon in the middle can help, but the one second space among moves does not give most players enough time. One move usually blends into the next one so it is over before players get a chance. The timing learning curve to overcome this challenge is achievable, but considerable. Younger players should try the challenge mode to master their moves first.
A colored “timer circle” helps players make the best move. Green for perfect; yellow for good and so on. The kicks are very challenging with the controls. Provided hints add to the frustration with these challenging movement that need to be more intuitive.
The Kata move editor is very intuitive. Players can even stretch the timeline from one to 4.6 seconds. The scrolling text bar at the bottom helps with instructions, but as the controls, actually performing actions successfully is usually easier said than done.
Punches are left, right, up or down with the specified hand and kicks require holding either the B or Z button (remote or nunchuk) while punching. Double punches using the left or right are easier. Players can achieve high grades to move up the ranks that often requires move memorization. Completed and missed moves yield a percentage mix of perfect, good and poor. Players must tie achieved belts as they move up the seven level system. Other rewards require actions like breaking open prize boxes. Players can also skip cut scene segments and access a special minigame.
Multiplayer mode becomes the best option. Here players can play against others and, most importantly, try out the moves. The most frustrating experience is getting the right moves down. After that challenge nothing engaging remains. The stick fighting is fun, but requires minimum skill. Catching flies or slapping a sleeping Sensei The real challenge is enduring the constant yelling.
The sound category does not enhance the game while the graphics provide some appealing color and contrast. Wind streams that tail from the characters muddle the overall environment instead of sharpening it. The familiar character design, cut scenes and dialogue try for comedy, but only yield repetitive, awkward situations. This game needs a stronger story to anchor actions, otherwise it’s just a martial arts simulator without incorporating more realistic motions. Variable results for the suggested retail price of $19.99.
All Star Karate is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for cartoon violence and comic mischief.