KARATECHAMP is the best fighting game you've never heard of.
Chances are, you've heard of Punchout. Don't let the fact that you may have never heard of KARATE CHAMP be a reason not to check it out.
Though I personally prefer the original arcade version, for the most part, the NES version does feature the same tight controls, wealth of true-to-life Karate moves, tough but fair difficulty and great graphics (for the time).
The game features a more realistic style of fighting than other games of the era such as Mortal Kombat. There are no weapons or super powers. It's pure mano e mano Karate fighting.
KARATE CHAMP's difficutly starts out quite easy and then ramps up quickly...possibly too quickly. By level 8, you will be wondering how anyone could ever beat the computer.
The arcade version of the game used a dual-joystick controller configuration, which was unique at the time and gave the combat a very specific feel. This control scheme works surprisingly well in MAME if you map the four right joystick directions of the original to the four face buttons of a standard PC controller.
KARATE CHAMP is a classic of the era to be sure, but it is also one of the greatest fighting games ever created.
KARATE CHAMP is rare and difficult to find for the NES. The original arcade version is also available for MAME, if you can find it.
If you like fighting games, or if you just have an interest in the history of videogames, you owe it to yourself to check out KARATE CHAMP.