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by Audun Sorlie - June 2nd, 2010

Most likely, you all know Jackie Chan and love him dearly for his movies, but for the sake of clarity, here's a short recap. Jackie Chan is one of the world's most famous action stars, having starred and produced in over 100 movies since the mid 70's. Born April 7th, 1954 in Hong Kong, he started his martial arts and Chinese opera training at the age of 6 under the eye of Master Yu Jim Yuen. It was his training here that gave him his unmatched skills in acrobatics and martial arts which eventually led him to become a member of the 7 Little Fortunes, a touring group consisting of other famous classmates like Sammo Hung (Martial Law, Magnificent Butcher), Yuen Biao (Prodigal Son, Wheels on Meals) and Yuen Wah (Kung Fu Hustle, Eastern Condors). He and the others eventually found work as stuntmen, and Jackie can be seen in Enter the Dragon and Fist of Fury with Bruce Lee, being killed by the master himself. As the '80s rolled on, Chan found his own audience with his unique mixture of comedy, action and incredible stunts with hits like Drunken Master, Wheels on Meals, Project A and Armour of God. Despite his Hong Kong fame, he wasn't noticed by mainstream audiences in the US until he hit it big with Rumble In The Bronx in 1986, and since then, he has enjoyed super stardom worldwide, and is to this day a box office draw all over the globe.

In Asia, and Japan particularly, Chan was already a superstar in the early '80s. At any given time, you would find endless amounts of Jackie Chan merchandise, be it his cantopop CDs, photo books, posters, gum or male underwear with his name on it. It should come as no surprise that there were quite a few video games based on him and his likeness, but very little is actually known about them to the wide public, mostly because of their obscurity and varying quality. The man has appeared across many platforms, from PC-88, to Playstation 2. Let's take a look at them and see how they hold up to the trademark style of Chan.

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu (NES)


Canon Ball 2 (キャノンボール2) - PC-88, FM-7, X1 (1984)

PC-88 Cover

The very first game to be based on Jackie Chan is Cannon Ball 2 on Japanese 8-bit computers. The game is inspired by the 1984 all-star movie Cannonball Run II. The game is a simple arcade racer popular at the time where you drive upwards avoiding other cars along the way. As in the movie, the primary goal is to race across America in an illegal cross-country race, and you must pick up fuel tanks along the road before you run out. There is also a timer on the top right ticking down as you go along the straight roads of the USA. While some might find it a stretch that this game would be based on Jackie in particular as the movie itself starred so many famous contemporary figures, the movie was promoted as a Jackie Chan movie in Japan, and Pony Canyon had the rights to Chan's image, even though the game itself makes no mention of him.

The game is near impossible to find, and while it may be worth it as a novelty for some, it's probably one that should just be ignored. No disk image of this title could be found, but a few Japanese websites indicate that the game was pretty unplayable, with choppy gameplay and little action.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Pony Canyon

Publisher:

Pony Canyon

Programmer:

Makoto Ichinoseki (PC-88)
Hiroshi Ishikawa (FM-7)
Yasugi Kenta (X1)

Genre:

Racing

Themes:

Contemporary: Travel
Licensed
Older than the NES


Cannon Ball 2 (PC-88)

Cannon Ball 2 (X1)


Jackie Chan in Project A (ジャッキー・チャンのプロジェクトA) - PC-88, MSX (1984)

MSX Cover

Pony Canyon made their first real efforts of porting Chan's amazing action into a video game with Project A, based on the 1983 movie with the same name. In the movie, Chan plays Dragon Ma, a marine police officer in Hong Kong. The seas of Hong Kong have been infested with pirates, and Ma leads his squad to stop the swashbucklers once and for all. However, because of the tension between the Police and Marines, fights between them breaks out and Ma is forced to go on his own to stop them, and eventually gets the support from his comrades and bitter police counterparts.

While the movie was groundbreaking at its time for the incredible stuntwork, martial arts action and production values unheard of in a Hong Kong movie, the game is sadly not as breathtaking. You control Ma as he infiltrates the cave of the pirate king San-Po, which is taken from the final act of the movie faithfully enough. The game plays a bit like Karateka, as you walk along left to right, fighting pirates and flying bats. On the screen, the Kaizoku (Pirate) counter displays how many are left on that stage.

The biggest problem is the incredibly stiff controls. Like Karateka and IK+, you push directions to do different moves. You have the standard punch, kick, and a Double Dragon 2-style back-kick for when you fight multiple pirates from both sides. Here lies another problem - the pink boat boarders gang up on you constantly, and your timing must be spot on to hit them. The bats fly at different altitudes and come at you at the same time, leading you to be swarmed by them as well. When you face the pirates, the sprites start flickering and you have no control over where they are or how many you are fighting at once, and you'll find yourself dying without knowing exactly what happened. Once you have knocked down the pirates, you have to duck down and stab them for them to die. This finishing touch is taken from the movie where Yuen Biao ambushes the pirates and stabs them to death.

It certainly isn't much to look at either, which is to be expected by MSX1 standards. There are only 2 short jingles, one for the start of each level, and one for each time you die, both highly simplistic and lasting 4-5 seconds each. The graphics are incredibly simple, and other than the title screen, there's not much here telling you that you are indeed controlling Chan himself. There's not much fun to be had with the severe flaws to both the controls and gameplay. Being the first Jackie Chan game, it sure ain't pretty.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Pony Canyon

Publisher:

Pony Canyon

Genre:

Action: Other

Themes:

Licensed
Older than the NES
Period: Interwar


Project A (MSX)

Project A (MSX)

Project A (MSX)


Spartan X (スパルタンX) / Kung-Fu Master / Kung Fu - Arcade, NES (1984)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

Famicom Cover

In the West, we all know this game as Kung-Fu Master or Kung Fu. And it might be even more confusing that the game itself is so apparently based on a Bruce Lee movie. Wheels on Meals, a fan favorite among most Jackie Chan fans, was released in Japan as Spartan-X. At the time of the release of this game, Jackie had surpassed Lee's fame in Asia, and Spartan-X had just come out in theatres. Towa Promotions, who were promoting the film in Japan, decided to licence the name of the movie to this game and tie in with the release. The end result led to a rather confusing cross between Game of Death's story and setting, and Spartan-X's name and Jackie's appearance.

The only differences between Kung-Fu Master and Spartan X is the copyright notice and a small line in the opening demo which reads "KANFU" instead of "Kung Fu".

While there have been several console and home computer ports, the versions that retain Jackie's likeness are the Japanese arcade, Famicom and European NES release. While the Arcade flyer simply lifts the movie's promotional poster, the Famicom uses original artwork drawn in a rather comical style with an obvious Jackie Chan looking character.

Spartan-X would go on to spawn it's own series outside of Jackie's influence, with sequels on Famicom and Game Boy. The movie was also kept in public spotlight as the late great wrestler Mitsuharu Misawa used its theme song as his entrance theme until his sad passing in 2009. While this doesn't have too much to do with the game's history, it shows that there was enough strength behind the name for it to stand on its own legs as time went on.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Irem

Publisher:

Irem

Producer:

Takashi Nishiyama

Genre:

Beat-'em-Up

Themes:

Kung Fu
Licensed
Older than the NES


Spartan X (Arcade)

Spartan X (Arcade)

Spartan X (Arcade)


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Canon Ball 2
Project A
Spartan X (Arcade)

Page 2:
Spartan X (MSX) The Protector
The Police Story
Project A 2

Page 3:
Action Kung Fu
Subor Learning System

Page 4:
The Kung-Fu Master
Fists of Fire

Page 5:
Stuntmaster
Jackie Chan Adventures

Page 6:
Shanghai Showdown
Around the World in 80 Days
Flash Little Big Soldier

Page 7:
The Kung Fu
Inspired Characters

Page 8:
Thorsten Nickel Interview

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