Any child growing in the 80s probably played an NES game at some point or another, at least those living in the United States. Back then, a Nintendo was as commonplace as a bike or a Monopoly set. Undoubtedly, the Rosetta Stone of this new language known as video gaming was Super Mario Bros. which served as the first title ever played in the digital realm for most gamers. It immediately put words like “Goomba” and “Koopa Troopa” into the lexicon of any grade school child. However, besides serving as most of every thirty-something gamer’s first playing experience, Super Mario Bros. was just a small part of what Nintendo was prepping for invasion into American living rooms.
The black box series of Nintendo games are 30 titles that get their name from their distinctive black box and pixelated artwork. Serving as a stark contrast to the more classical artwork that adorned Atari boxes, the Nintendo games showed gamers what they could expect right there on the packaging. Besides from Super Mario Bros., the other early black box titles my parents added to our early collection were Popeye, Excite Bike, Hogan’s Alley, and Gumshoe, the latter two being compatible with the Nintendo light gun, also known as the Zapper.
After the system was up and running, the box art for NES games began to take a more traditional approach, allowing for fantastical drawings greater than what could be provided by a mere 8-bit pixels. Because of this, I was most likely drawn to the more elaborate looking titles every Friday night when it was time to make our weekly pilgrimage to the video store to pick out a title to play that weekend, continually passing over the box that simply portrayed a man kicking at air which made up the cover of Kung Fu.
Eventually, my brother and I sold off our Nintendo collection. In the late 90s I got bit by the nostalgia bug and bought back most of the titles I had as a child. Then around 2010, in order to lighten my moving load and to score some extra cash, I sold off my NES collection once again. About five years later, I got the urge to reclaim the cartridges of my youth. Due to most of the Mom and Pop video game stores having shut down in the intervening years, my main source for obtaining these games became the little upstart website, eBay.
Finding it was easier to buy random lots instead of individual games, I happened to win one that included most of the games I had previously given up, along with a few wildcard titles. Among these was Kung Fu which I may have played at some point at a friend’s house growing up, but I’ll be damned if I could remember who or when.
In the game, the player assumes the role of Thomas who has to get through five floors of enemies in order to get his woman, Sylvia, back or else he is doomed to jerk off in the shower. At the end of each stage there’s a boss who needs a good ass kicking before climbing up the stairs to the next level. Along the way to the boss, though, Thomas has to kick the shit out of a bunch of random thugs, as well as snakes, hobbits, moths, and other random crap that a bunch of Japanese high on fabulous 1980s peyote could come up with. Between every other stage, there’s a “cutscene” of Thomas telling his woman to come suck his dick while some asshole laughs.
The game is standard 1980s beat-em-up gameplay that’s still fun today in short bursts, and I’ve found this game to be a good time killer between rounds of banging Cindy, the fat chick across the street. Although the game can be beaten in about 15 minutes, giving the player a nice image of Thomas humping his girlfriend, it will continuously loop thereafter, increasing in difficulty on the next play through. Eventually, I’ll just say, “fuck this” and see if Cindy is done hosing herself down in the wash basin downstairs.
For being a very early NES game, the graphics are decent but kind of bland, unless you like looking at long stretches of hallways and 100 nameless thugs who bear a striking resemblance to each other. The music is also repetitive, but since I usually play with the television on mute, just to make sure Cindy is still wheezing, I don’t really care.
As I’ve gotten back into retro video game collecting, one of the pleasures has been getting more familiar with titles I do not have nostalgic feelings for. Kung Fu is a prime example of this as I did not play it extensively growing up, but I’m able to enjoy it today. It will never compart to Super Mario Bros., but it is a fun diversion for at least a little while, not unlike Midget Porn. Being a fairly common game, it’s also pretty cheap and can be found for about five bucks, either online or at a retro game store.