Karateka (Apple 2) 1984
First rotoscoping animation, first animated ending
1) Inspiration from Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock print art, and the cinematic works of Akira Kurosawa, early Disney animated films, and silent pictures; Mechner (creator) claimed that such works "convey such powerful emotion and atmosphere without a word being spoken".
2) Developing the game for the Apple II proved to be challenging. Mechner wanted to create fluid animations within the Apple II's eight frames per second capacity, but this was hampered by the presence of additional on-screen elements, such as one of the palace gates. Mechner found that he could not animate and play music (limited to one-note tones) at the same time, forcing him to adapt to these limitations. To create the animations, he used rotoscoping, drawing over images taken while filming his karate instructor demonstrating various moves.
3) Compute! called Karateka "a nominee for the Most Underrated Program of the Year. It's a program that must be seen to be fully appreciated". It stated that the Apple II version "has by far the best animation I've seen in an Apple arcade game. The smoothness of the animation ... makes the game almost as enjoyable to watch as it is to play.
4) "Akuma'", the name of the evil warlord in Karateka (and many other games featuring a Japanese bad guy), is a Japanese word that roughly means 'devil'.
5) The Akuma Castle that appears at the beginning, seems to be inspired by the "Himeji Castle" that really exists in Japan, near Kyoto. Search on Google Image for "Himeji Castle" and you'll find pictures of the real castle.
6) The Apple II version of Karateka came on one single-sided floppy disk. However, by booting Karateka up on the opposite side (Side Two) - the game would still load, but now the game was upside down. A visual gag on the part of someone at Brøderbund most likely.
7) The game's engine will be later used in Prince of Persia (1989).
8) Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films. Originally, recorded live-action film images were projected onto a frosted glass panel and re-drawn by an animator. This projection equipment is called a rotoscope. Although this device was eventually replaced by computers, the process is still referred to as rotoscoping. In the visual effects industry, the term rotoscoping refers to the technique of manually creating a matte for an element on a live-action plate so it may be composited over another background.
8) First Terminator games (for Sega Genesis) used rotoscoping.
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