UCHI MATA – Judo Champ : ZX Spectrum

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Uchi Mata or Inner Thigh Throw‘ as its otherwise known is an ambitious attempt to bring the martial art of Judo to the ZX Spectrum. A judo simulator is an ambitious and original idea and fits in with the wacky nature of the Spectrum’s game library.

This takes the form of a Judo contest, where you have to grab and throw your opponent with a legal move. This means you can use the old Target Renegade tactics of pushing him over or kneeing him in the groin. This has to be a genuine Judo throw or you end up getting disqualified.

The game is touted as the nearest thing to getting involved in the sport without the fear of getting your back broken. It’s endorsed by Judo champ Brian Jacks who was consulted in the construction of the game scenario and the gameplay design. This form of authenticity pushes the titles credibility over the other ‘simulators‘ on the market such as the beloved ‘Jet Ski Simulator‘ style of titles. However, is it fun?

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On screen you have the game area, there’s a score board at the top and a strength / grip indicator. As a nice touch there’s a little box for the referee to appear in and in the mid-distance you can see an ever watchful crowd of spectators. You throw your opponent by grabbing his jacket or Judogi at the chosen moment. You need to make sure that you have a firm grip of your adversary and push your joystick around in a similar way that you would throw a bloke in reality.

You are scored on your technique and if you win the competition you are awarded a new belt. Exciting stuff! Well it was in the days before Street Fighter II anyway.

The main problem with this title is that the characters on screen flicker a lot, so much so that its difficult to see what is actually going on. This causes a problem as the action moves so quickly that its a challenge to just to get your grip sorted in time to avoid being thrown yourself.

For all of this however, the game doesn’t suffer too much and once you find yourself ignoring the flickering it can become quite absorbing. The throws are complex and detailed, allowing a broad range of expression on behalf of the players. The animations are quite compelling as well, between falling throw the air and leaping up again in triumph.

The game is good fun but it does feel lacking in presentation. Its playable and fairly addictive but the graphical problems hinder what is, a quite good, simulator of the science of judo.

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