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Bangkok Knights

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Released: 1987

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Publisher: System 3

Developer: System 3

When you watch a fight, there’s a visceral thrill that accompanies being as close to it as possible. Sure, the person on the arena balcony is watching the same fight as the person in the front row, but it’s the latter spectator that’s getting the full experience – who wouldn’t want to see the tortured facial expressions of fighters as hammering blows meet their mark?

That’s why Bangkok Knights is such an appealing kickboxing game. System 3’s games often distinguished themselves from the competition with excellent presentation, and Bangkok Knights offered some absolutely amazing visuals. Fighters were represented with enormous, detailed sprites that winced and recoiled when hit, and offered a convincing show of force behind each blow. Better yet, each of your opponents was a real individual, with their own moves and very distinct looks. The game’s fighting locations, ranging from cliff tops with birds flying nearby to street scenes with onlookers in doorways, were as well drawn as they were diverse.

Of course, all of this came at a price – Bangkok Knights needed a loading break after each fight, ensuring that you’d cool down at least a little between each bout. It’s also fair to say that it wasn’t a particularly hard game, as fights could be won easily so long as you were able to keep your opponent at a distance and interrupt their strikes. But did I keep going back to it? Definitely – after all, what other C64 game was going to show me the impact of my punches in that much detail?