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Micro Player (Karate Champ) Review

Disclaimer: Thank you to My Arcade for providing a review copy.

There is nothing more widely accepted and ubiquitous to gaming than arcade cabinets. Movie theaters, bars, and rec rooms feel lived in and give off a classic with them present. Depending what you’re looking for they can cost a fair amount of money money or time to setup. My Arcade has provided a solution for those that like the look, but want a cheaper, compact alternative.

The Micro Player line offers eight different variants, four from both Bandai Namco and Data East. With games ranging from Caveman Ninja to Pac-Man. My version in particular is Karate Champ, but these points are applicable all variants.

It stands at just under seven inches tall with artwork that is near identical to the original cabinet it’s based on. The coin slot has been, retrofitted to be the power button and even glows red for that classic look. There are also some nice features like a removable joystick (if you prefer using the D-Pad), headphone jack, reset button, and Micro-USB port if you don’t have x4 AA batteries available. The latter two along with volume buttons are on the back of the device to keep the front looking sleek.

Two rubber strips on the bottom did a good job of keeping it in place… until they gathered dust making them mostly ineffective. As long as you’re holding it by the sides (what I found most comfortable) it’s not an issue. Playing it either on a table or as a handheld, I found it comfortable to use, even with the joystick out.

The visuals are clear (more so than the NES version it’s based on), however there is a small amount of ghosting when moving. As well, while attacking the opponent both overlapping sections became transparent. It doesn’t affect gameplay but it would be nice if it didn’t happen.

In particular to the Karate Champ version, oddly it’s based on the NES version with two buttons versus the arcade version with two joysticks. I don’t know if it would necessarily play better, but it is strange that an arcade recreation doesn’t use the arcade version of the game. The NES also doesn’t have a training mode like the arcades, which made it difficult to figure out how to play. You can find the NES manual (although here the buttons are swapped) but it would’ve been nice if one was included.

 

I give it 4/5 stars

 

As a game, I wouldn’t recommend Karate Champ over say, Heavy Barrel or Dig Dug. It isn’t clear when a hit should or shouldn’t count, or even how to turn around. As a device though, I would recommend it. It looks just like the arcade cabinet you remember and plays great. The drawbacks it has are minor and even then it provides alternatives. Pulling out a Micro-USB with a wall charger is a lot easier to find than x4 AA batteries. But if you don’t want cords so you can display and grab it off your shelf, that’s possible too.

They retail for $34.99 each, and have a new variant coming Holiday 2018 with 20 games included versus one.