Week in Arcade: Karateka, To Jam & Earl

Twenty bucks will land you the dual XBLA releases this week.

Karateka

You’ll need to understand what Karateka was to understand what Karateka is. That’s not philosophy, but a reality because to the uninitiated, Karateka feels unimaginably stiff, a fighter with little movement and combat which amounts to a QTE. The original was sold based on its animation, smooth and slow as kicks landed. That’s no longer an issue. This is a fiery remake with plenty of rapid-fire rumbling based entirely around reaction times. If it seems static, that’s because it is. If it seems simple, that’s because it is. To get into the joy Karateka brings, you need get invested in its rhythm. This might not be a great remake – although the score is outstanding – but for what it’s trying to emulate, it hits home.

Sega Vintage Collection: Toe Jam & Earl

Good, clean port of two Genesis titles that scream the ’90s. Deep audio, funky beats, and quirky characters highlight the original slog fest as the characters look for parts to their ship in a zany alien world. There’s not much to do but plenty to see. The sequel is significantly more vibrant, a 2D platformer with wild bonus stages and swift pacing. They’re ported well, including the crucial audio with a killer bass beat. The Genesis-era visuals look better here than they ever have before. Worth it if you’re dying for nostalgia. It’s doubtful the younger crowd unknowing of these “funky” aliens will get it.

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