This is an entry for the A to Z Challenge (see the sidebar for more information).  These are just some of my initial impressions on the Steam, GOG, and other online games throughout the month.  It is not as much of a review as it is a summary of my feelings on the game.

Yie Ar Kung Fu (一二功夫, pronounced “ee ar” kung fu, meaning “One Two Kung Fu”), one of the earliest fighting games ever made, is now available for download play on XBLA.

This game is pure nostalgia for me.  Like most kids of the 1980s, I was taken by the ninja craze.  Everything Ninja related had my attention. It was a strange time; Eric Van Lustbader was considered a brilliant novelist, and  Ashida Kim was more than just some douche in Florida. It wasn’t long before David Carradine and Ralph Macchio dragged me from the ninja craze into kung fu and karate, respectively.  From that point on, I played every martial arts game I could get my hands on.

Unfortunately, most of the really early fighting games were based on point sparring.  Karate Champ, Wat of the Exploding Fist, etc., were all a test of your ability to deliver a single, well-timed hit.  It wasn’t until I played Barbarian on the Commodore 64 that I got a taste of a life bar.  A few years later, I played Yie Ar Kung Fu, and I was in love.

Yie Ar Kung Fu was a ground breaking game that established several themes for games to come.  Of course, it had a life bar.  It had a variety of characters with varying styles, strengths and weaknesses.  It introduced more high jumping moves and combos.  And it gave the fighters a personality.

This last one is an important point.  Kung Fu Master (sometimes simply called “Kung Fu”), Karate Champ, and Exploding Fist all had generic characters with no real personalities.  Yie Ar Kung Fu set a precedent by drawing a connection between the players and the characters, and in doing so kicked of a genre of games filled with a variety of styles and interesting characters.

If you haven’t played this game, I encourage you to pick it up simply to experience the piece of history.  It’s a lot of fun.