Jackie Chan, patron saint of silly kung fu movies, action superstar, and all around supercop has actually been featured in more games than you probably realize. Not only was he in this super rare NES and Turbografx gem, as well as the PlayStation game Jackie Chan: Stuntmaster, but he was also featured in a whole pile of other games. For now, I will be focusing on Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu for the NES, one of my favorite platformers of all time.
Master of Stunts, Master of Jumps
I lucked out and bought this game for the NES when I was a kid. A used copy was on sale at the local video store. I’m not even sure I knew who Jackie Chan was at the time. This would have been in the early 90’s, and even though he had been in Battle Creek Brawl and Cannonball Run by this point, his fame hadn’t exploded in America. He was, however, incredibly famous in Asia at this point.
In this game, you control our hero, who must save his sister from an evil wizard. The into reminds me of Ghosts ‘N Goblins. You travel across five stages, with mini game special stages hidden throughout. You can jump and attack with a standard punch, crouching attack, and jump kick. Attacking frogs makes them borf up special techniques. I don’t think that works in real life, so please be kind to our amphibious buddies. Special techniques are done Castlevania style, by holding up and pressing attack. You can also shoot a Hadouken style fireball by holding and charging attack, but those are limited. The special attacks also have a designated ammo amount.
Super Charming Graphics
The graphics are bright and colorful, with great looking backgrounds and enemies. You fight bandits, tigers, fish, and all sorts of other strange goobers. My favorite is the first boss, which is a Buddha statue that comes to life and attacks you. Defeating this boss sends you straight to hell, complete with pitchfork wielding demons. The music is unbelievably charming chiptune, and is often whistled by yours truly whenever it’s stuck in my head. Check out this playthrough by NintendoComplete.
One of my favorite special stages is where Jackie fights wooden men. You might recognize them as looking like Mokujin from Tekken. You’d be correct! And wrong! These are from the Lei Wu-Lon…excuse me…Jackie Chan movie Shaolin Wooden Men, in which Jackie Fights of bunch of wooden men in the Shaolin Temple. It’s not very good, but it does make for a great homage in Tekken.
Check out those chiptune JAMS
Have I mentioned that I absolutely love the soundtrack? Seriously, it’s good. Check out these earworms (ewwww) of 8-bit sound glory, which is a very strange sentence but I stand by it. Just kidding, I don’t stand for anything.
Some of Jackie’s Other Outings.
There are a decent amount of Jackie Chan games, but there’s one you may not realize that you’ve played before: Kung Fu, the NES classic, is actually a licensed Jackie Chan game…OR IS IT? It is. But it was ORIGINALLY a Bruce Lee game. You see, Bruce was the biggest star in Asia at the time of his death. The movie Game of Death went unfinished, and was eventually picked up by the Director of Enter the Dragon, Robert Clouse, and finished with up-and-coming Kung Fu star Yuen Biao (who was Jackie Chan’s sword opera brother, but that’s a whole other thing).
The movie featured Bruce fighting his way through levels of a Pagoda and fighting a master of a different style at each floor. This movie also highlights an incredible fight with his real life student, basketball super-star, and Airplane actor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The finished movie is terrible, but original footage of it is incredible. It also has Bruce in his iconic yellow and black stripe jogging suit.
Where am I Going With This? Ah Yes…
So let’s wrap it back around: This movie was the basis for the Irem video game Kung Fu, until it wasn’t. With Bruce’s death, China was looking for a new superstar. Enter Jackie Chan, with his sworn brothers Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung. They starred in one of the best kung fu movies ever called Wheels on Meals. It was a big success, and so in Japan, the game we know as Kung Fu was released as Spartan X (the Japanese title of Wheels on Meals), starring our man Jackie.
And just in case you don’t believe me when I say that movie is one of the best, just check out this fight scene between J.C. and Benny The Jet Urquidez, famous kickboxer and Hollywood actor John Cusack’s best buddy (no, really).