|Kung who? Kung FU!
Despite being insanely busy over the past two months I was nonetheless able to make a few acquisitions to my precious Famicom collection that I would now like to post in a boastful manner about.
About a month ago I was able to wheel and deal with the always excellent fredj on Famicom World for the above copy of Kung Fu!
I have been wanting a copy of that one for a long time but it is pretty crazy expensive here. They have a minty CIB copy of it at Mandarake in town here for 63,000 yen (about $750 US), which is way out of my price range. This was a slightly beat up cart only copy which allowed it to fall within my trading budget.
As you can note from the above photo, Kung Fu is very similar to Spartan X. That is because it is Spartan X, just with a different name. There is a bit of a history as to why this game was released with two names. Here is the story as I have been able to gather from my surfing of the Japanese Famicom related internet.
Spartan X is the Japanese name of the Jackie Chan movie Wheels on Meals, which was a big hit here in 1984:
The game was released in conjunction with the film and thus had the same name. This, I should note, came as news to me. I had always assumed Spartan X/ Kung Fu was based on Bruce Lee`s Game of Death because....well because it IS Game of Death. You use kung fu to fight an army of villains from floor to floor up a Chinese looking building to the boss at the top. Exact same thing.
Anyway, whatever. It is based on Wheels on Meals and not Game of Death. No big whoop.
Nobody out there seems exactly sure about this, but it is the considered opinion of Japanese bloggers that Nintendo only had a license to use the film`s name for a limited time. When it expired they switched the name of the game from Spartan X to Kung Fu, the same name the NES release was given.
I`m speculating here, but since this name change probably came late in the release`s lifespan they must have only sold a handful of copies with the Kung Fu name, hence the present rarity of that version. Except for the title screen it is basically the same game.
If you avoid trying to make any sense of the plot or characters though it does stand out as one of those so bad it is good movies. Lots of 80s style kung fu kicking and that sort of stuff. Sylvia does get kidnapped and Thomas and friends do actually have to fight their way through an army of kung fu bad guys to rescue her at the end so there is some similarity with the game, though all this takes place in Spain for some reason. There is a lot of humor throughout, some translates well, a lot does not. Still worth a viewing though!