Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

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Kung-Fu Master

Kung-Fu Master (c) 12/1984 Irem.

Thomas - the game's hero - and his girlfriend Sylvia are suddenly ambushed by a group of unknown assailants, and Sylvia is kidnapped. Thomas receives a ransom demand from the mysterious 'X' informing him that Sylvia is being held in the Devil's Temple.

Thomas must kick and punch through the five enemy-packed floors of the temple to reach Sylvia and rescue her. A fearsome guardian awaits the player at the end of each floor, and must be defeated before Thomas can continue his progress up through the temple.


Irem M-62 system hardware

Main CPU : Z80 (@ 3.072 Mhz)

Sound CPU : M6803 (@ 894.886 Khz)

Sound Chips : (2x) AY8910 (@ 894.886 Khz), (2x) MSM5205 (@ 384 Khz)

Screen orientation : Horizontal

Video resolution : 256 x 256 pixels

Screen refresh : 55.00 Hz

Palette colors : 512

Players : 2

Control : 4-way joystick

Buttons : 2 (PUNCH, KICK)


This game is known in Japan as "Spartan X".

Kung-Fu Master was the first game that Irem licensed to Data East and was also, more significantly, the world's first sideways-scrolling beat-em-up (and would be the first of two genre-defining fighting games released by Data East that year; the other being 'Karate Champ', the world's first one-on-one fighting game). While understandably not as polished as the games it would go on to inspire, Kung-Fu Master is still regarded as an absolute classic. It is also fiendishly difficult.

Mike Sullivan holds the official record for this game with 1,349,040 points.

This game is based on the movie 'Wheels on Meals', starring Jackie Chan (as Thomas) and Sammo Hung (who also directed). This movie is called 'Spartan X' in Japan. Also, the game contains some tricks from the Bruce Lee movie 'Game of Death'. In the game you have a 5-Floor Pagoda (which is 'Pope Jusaw' in South-Korea) and the Giant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In the movie 'Bruce's Finger', you can see the kidnapping letter and a tied-up girl in a red dress. In the movie 'Goodbye Bruce Lee, his Last Game of Death' you can see the red pillars and the ceiling tape, like in the game.

A french movie, 'Le Petit Amour', by Agnes Varda, doesn't have 'Kung-fu Master' just as the name in USA but also has an intro with a scroll-lateral reference to the game and a lot of scenes of the game itself too! One thing that can cause some strangeness is the fact that the movie is a romance and not a fighting/action movie as the US name can propose.

A bootleg of this game was released by O.K. corp. in 1985.


Differences between Spartan X and Kung-Fu Master :

* During the demo screen the word Kung-Fu (in 'A KUNG-FU MASTER, THOMAS....') is spelled 'KANFU' in Spartan X.

* Spartan X has an additional copyright notice that is not in Kung-Fu Master : '(C)1984 Paragon Films Ltd., Towa Promotion'.


Scoring in this game is relatively simple. Some of the scoring depends on whether you kick or punch an enemy. You get more points punching enemies.

Punch on regular fighters : 200 points

Punch on boys : 300 points

Punch on knife throwers : 800 points (Require 2 hits)

Kick on regular fighters : 100 points

Kick on boys : 200 points

Kick on knife throwers : 500 points (Require 2 hits)

Jump Kick on regular fighters : 200 points

Jump Kick on boys : 300 points

Jump Kick on knife throwers : 800 points (Require 2 hits)

If you kick or punch into a group, you have a chance of knocking more then one fighter off the floor. The progressions for this are...

Progression for Jump Kick or Punch :

1 person : 200 points

2 persons : 400 points

3 persons : 600 points

4 persons : 800 points

For everyone beyond the 4th person, it stays at 800 points.

Progression for a Kick or Low Sweep :

1 person : 100 points

2 persons : 200 points

3 persons : 300 points

4 persons : 400 points

For everyone beyond the 4th person, it stays at 400 points.

On the 2nd and 4th floors, you will encounter some different enemies.

Dragons : 2000 points

Confetti Balls : 1000 points

Vases (Kicked) : 200 points

Vases (Punched) : 100 points

Butterflies (Kicked) : 500 points

Butterflies (Punched) : 600 points

You also get points for the bosses :

1st Floor : 2000 points

2nd Floor : 3000 points

3rd Floor : 4000 points

4th Floor : 5000 points

5th Floor : 10000 points

At the end of each floor, you will receive bonus points by adding your time remaining + your remaining energy. To complete a floor, you must go up the stairs to the next floor.


* When you start the game, Thomas will be at the right side of the screen. It will then be your job to navigate him through the five floors to Mr. X. On each floor, you are under a time crunch. The Timer starts at 2000 and only stops when you go up the stairs to the next floor. Sometimes players forget this and think after you defeat the boss then the floor is over.

* If Thomas is grabbed by the regular fighters or boys, just rapidly shake the joystick left and right. This will throw them off of Thomas although you get no points for it. You will lose energy if they hold on to you plus Thomas cannot fight while being held.

* Knife throwers can be particularly dangerous. In the lower levels, they throw at a medium or high height. Later on, they also will throw low. It takes two hits to take out a knife thrower. In the higher levels, don't be surprised if Thomas has a knife thrower on either side of him. The best way to counter this is to move toward the left or right to get one of the knife fighters off the screen and deal with the other one.

* Speaking about the above two points, a particularly dangerous situation emerges when Thomas is being held and knife throwers appear on the scene. You have to rapidly get Thomas free and deal with the knife throwers. Failing to do this will result in a quick death for Thomas.

* Try to make it to the boss as quickly as possible since you are on limited time. You will know when the boss is around since all other people on the screen disappear.

* As you are moving along the floor, you will be assaulted by different people and things. Enemies encountered will depend on which floor you are currently on. As you finish each Devil's Temple, the floors will get harder as the enemies become more numerous and quicker. The floors are broken up like this :

FIRST FLOOR : This floor just has regular fighters and knife throwers. They do become more numerous the more Temples you successfully complete.

SECOND FLOOR : This floor has a few different enemies to deal with.

1) You will be assaulted by vases and confetti balls. If you do not destroy the vases before they hit the floor, they will release dragons or snakes. You can attempt to kick or punch the dragons, but it is risky since they blow fire from their mouths. This in addition to other enemies around you. As for the snakes, your only defense is to jump over them.

2) The confetti balls explode after a period of time sending shrapnel in all directions. These can be destroyed before they do any harm.

3) On the final part of the floor, you will deal with regular fighters, boys, and knife throwers.

THIRD FLOOR : This floor is like the first floor except now you will also have boys to deal with.

FOURTH FLOOR : This floor only has a couple of enemies to deal with.

1) At the beginning of the floor, butterflies will be released from the walls. They will come at Thomas randomly high, medium, or low. That means you will have to do some fancy footwork to either avoid them or take them out.

2) After the butterflies, the rest of the floor is the usual regular fighters, boys, and knife throwers.

FIFTH FLOOR : Just like the third floor except the knife throwers come out more frequently now.

* Defeating The Bosses : There are five bosses to deal with in this game. For most of the bosses, if you can back them up against the stairs and start pounding on them, you will defeat them very quickly. Of course, some bosses won't work with you in that area so you have to try other methods.

1) STICK WIELDER : His claim to fame is that he has a big stick and he doesn't speak at all. This is one of the easier bosses to take down.

a) You can tell when he is ready to strike because he cocks his arm back to swing. Just move or jump back to avoid being hit.

b) You can crowd him against the stairs. Once you have done that, use a series of low sweeps to finish him off.

c) You can also take him out be doing jump kicks on him but that is a little more tricky since he can get a hit on you if you are not ready.

2) BOOMERANG MAN : This guy likes to hit you coming and going. He throws two boomerangs at Thomas. If Thomas avoids them on the trip out, he may get hit on the return trip.

a) Your first priority is avoiding the boomerangs (of course). Most of the time, he throws the boomerangs mid or high so you can easily duck. Sometimes he will throw some low shots so you have to jump.

b) Once he releases his boomerangs, get up to him and let loose with kicks and punches. Prepare for the boomerangs return trip and once he catches them, hit him a couple of more times.

c) You should only have to do this cycle a couple of times before Boomerang Man is no more.

3) THE GIANT : He stands about twice as tall as Thomas. Plus, he packs a mean wallop both in his punch and kick.

a) Although he is built like a tank, he is not very quick. Thomas can get in about three shots to his one. The problem is, when the giant hits Thomas, a lot of energy loss occurs.

b) Don't even try to go toe-to-toe with this guy or you will lose. The best attacks are the jump kick and low sweep. You just have to watch out for his kick on the low sweep.

c) This one may take a while since you need to be careful around the giant.

4) THE WIZARD : Of course, no Devil's Temple would be complete without the resident wizard to annoy you. The wizard is one of the stranger bosses you have to deal with. His claim to fame is a couple of things. First, he creates duplicates of himself so you don't know which one is the real wizard. Second, he sometimes sends creatures after you such as bats to make your life miserable. Fortunately, the wizard is one of the easier bosses to deal with.

a) You need to back him up to the stairs as quickly as possible to limit his movement. If the wizard has a lot of room, he can create duplicates which will hurt Thomas.

b) Once you've backed him against the stairs, the only thing that will work on the wizard are low punches. When you have him backed against the stairs and are pounding on him, he can't create duplicates or other critters to harass Thomas.

5) MR. X : Well, you've finally made it to Mr. X. This will be a test of all of your Kung-Fu skills. Mr. X is no pushover. In addition, Mr. X regenerates his energy so you have to be quick about taking him down or he will fully regenerate.

a) You will notice that Mr. X has his own series of Kung-Fu moves that could very well do severe damage to Thomas. You will need to use different combos to get through Mr. X's defenses.

b) If he seems to block a particular attack, quickly switch to another. For example, if he blocks a low sweep, change it to a jump kick and you may get a shot it. Also, use your punches after getting his defenses away with kicks.

c) This will be a long battle but if you continue using different attacks, you can take him down.

6) Once the final boss is beaten, you walk forward to kiss Silvia. Jump at the last minute and you'll walk a few extra steps and kiss thin air.

* Slow Motion Mode : Turn ''slow motion mode'' ON in dipswitch. In game, press START2 to slow game speed.

* Stop Mode : Turn ''Freeze'' ON in dipswitch. In game, press START2 to stop and START1 to restart.

* Level Selection Mode : Turn ''Level selection mode'' ON in dipswitch. In game, press START1 to select and START2 to restart.


1. Kung-Fu Master (1984)

2. Vigilante (1988)

3. Spartan X 2 (Nintendo Famicom, 1991)


* Consoles :

Atari 2600 (1984)

Nintendo Famicom (1985, "Kung Fu")

Atari 7800 (1989)

Nintendo Game Boy (1990)

Sony PlayStation (IREM Arcade Classics)

* Computers :

Apple II (1985)

Commodore C64 (1985)

Amstrad CPC (1986)

Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1986)



F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc