Karate Champ was released during the same year as The Karate Kid, definitely one of the great movies of the 1980s. The game was different from the action-oriented games of the era because instead of trying to beat your opponent to a bloody pulp, you just had to score one hit in order to get a point making the experience considerably more methodical and technical. Matches are played in different areas such as a sparse dojo, bamboo fields and some kind of vacant dock by the sea. The fights are presided by a stoic karate master and his young daughter(?) whose cheers make the victor appear flush with embarrassment. Or something. It's all a little goofy, actually.
Playing Karate Champ reminded me a lot of the Fencing game from Summer Games. Mashing buttons or moving the arcade stick in frantic directions wasn't the proper way to play. Incredibly useful practice rounds made understanding the methodical direction of the game pretty easy. The most entertaining part of Karate Champ was watching as your hits, be they kick or punch, will make you or your opponent drop to the ground in a crumpled heap. It's even funnier if you manage to successfully perform a flying kick to the dude's face. All semblance of playing by the game's rules to a backseat to wild, unabashed attempts to maim the guy in the red robes as much as possible.