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Your love Sylvia is in custody now. If you want to save your dear Sylvia's life, come to the Devil's Temple at once. 5 sons of the devil will entertain you."
—Mr. X, game intro to Kung Fu Master
Kung-Fu Master is a 1984 Arcade Game released by Irem, also known as Kung Fu in its 1985 NES port and Spartan X in Japan (all versions except for the MSX one, which was titled Seiken Acho due to the existence of Jackie Chan in Spartan X, a different MSX game by Pony Inc.). Playing as martial artist Thomas, you get to kick, punch and jump-kick an horde of...rather grabby enemies and acrobatic midgets throughout 5 straighforward stages.
The original game's plot is quite simple: the mysterious Mr. X kidnaps Thomas' girl, Sylvia, and leaves a letter challenging him to rescue her by going through a 5-floor pagoda known as Devil's Temple, fighting against his hordes of grabby Mooks and the 5 Sons of the Devil (the Stick Fighter, Boomerang Fighter, Strongman, Magician and Mr. X himself).
There were two sequels made for the console market. A Game Boy version of Kung Fu Master/Spartan X released in 1990, dealing with Thomas, now a secret intelligence agent, as he investigates the disappearance of scientist and engineers known in the field of weapon development, and the apparent involvement of mysterious millionaire and martial artists Zapp Morgan. Now Thomas has to face Morgan's contracted killers (Chainsaw Man, Napalm Bomber, twin Ninjas and the return of Strongman) plus hordes of still very grabby Mooks. The game plays identical to the original, albeit Thomas has a new flying/cartwheel kick attack and stages now have moving platforms and traps.
And then there's Spartan X 2, released in Japan in 1991 for the Family Computer, and advertised but not released for the NES as Kung Fu II. Now going by the name Johnny Spartan (the manual revealing his original full name as Johnny Thomas), he's a police officer who lost his family in an incident with a new type of drug, which his father was subjected to. Quitting the corrupt police force, he becomes a secret service agent in order to track the drug route and find the mastermind, which turns out to be man named Caeson Hawk. Johnny confronts many drug smugglers and dealers (Flames Joe, Chin Gensai, Billy Beiry, Mr. Benjamin and Murder Lin), and once again very grabby Mooks on his crusade against Caeson. Sylvia shines by her absence, with Johnny instead getting assistance from Tracey, his HQ contact, as well as his heavily-stressed chief, Steve. Just as before, two new moves are given to Johnny in the form of a Shoryuken-esque rising uppercut and an overhead throw.
- Airborne Mooks: Jetpack-strapped thugs in X 2.
- Alliterative Name: Billy Beiry.
- All There in the Manual: The Game Boy game's plot. X 2 actually starts in the middle of the story, with the beginning detailed in the manual.
- Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Mr. X.
- Artifact Title: In Japan, "Spartan X" doesn't really seems to have anything to do with the game itself (barring the fact that IREM bought the license from a movie of the same name, see the In Name Only entry below). X 2 actually tries to justify it by rechristening the main character "Johnny Spartan", and then having Caeson mention the fact he was once known as "Thomas".
- The Beast Master: Mr. Benjamin sics his trained gorilla against you.
- Beat'Em Up
- Big Bad: Mr. X (Arcade/NES), Zapp Morgan (Game Boy) and Caeson Hawk (Spartan X 2).
- The Dragon: For Caeson at least, Murder Lin.
- Big Fancy House: Caeson's "Dark Manor", which has its own underground drug factory and olympic-sized swimming pool.
- Big No: Noooo!!!.
- Bound and Gagged: Sylvia.
- Breath Weapon: The dragons in the original and Flames Joe's signature attack.
- Chainsaw Good: Chainsaw Man.
- Circus of Fear: The Gypsy Air Circus in X 2, which are actually a band of smugglers.
- Completely Different Title/Market-Based Title: Quite a problem for the first game as it's known by four different names depending on region/console.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Zapp Morgan.
- Cowboy Cop: Johnny Spartan, much to his boss' chagrin.
- Da Chief: Steve.
- Dead Little Sister: For Johnny in X 2, his entire family.
- Death Faked for You: Johnny asks Tracey a favour: to claim he's death at the end of X 2.
- Divorced Installment: The original Japanese version was a licensed game of Jackie Chan's Wheels on Meals (Spartan X being the film's Japanese title), whereas the overseas version is a stand alone game. The game was quite literally In Name Only to the point where all they had to do to divorce the game from the license was to change the title.
- Dragon Lady: Murder Lin.
- Dumb Muscle: Strongman and Billy Beiry.
- Endless Game: The original.
- Equal Opportunity Evil: Mr. X employs Midgets as Mooks.
- Eternal Engine: Stage 04 and 05 in the Game Boy game, Morgan's weapon factory.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": All bosses but the final ones are just given generic descriptive names of their weapon/tactic. Averted in X 2, though.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: The gorilla Mini Boss in X 2.
- Evil Counterpart: Mr. X to Thomas.
- Evil Laugh: Mr. X is fondly remembered for his mocking laughter in the intermission "cutscenes". All bosses mockingly laugh at Thomas after he loses too, with Strongman having a lower pitch and Magician a higher.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Devil's Temple.
- Expy: Chainsaw Man is one to Jason Vorhees.
- Distressed Damsel: Sylvia.
- Fan Remake: Kung-Fu Remix.
- Fan Translation: For Spartan X 2.
- Fan Sequel: Kung Fu II and Santa Fu.
- Fan Vid: Cinemassacre associate Mike Matei made an excellent video tribute called "Kung Fu Bandito" that can be found here (Might be Not Safe for Work). Featuring The Angry Video Game Nerd in the very end, killing Kung Fu Bandito with a clean headshot.
- Gas Mask Mooks: The Napalm Bomber, as seen in the game's boxart.
- Here We Go Again:
"Congratulations, Thomas and Sylvia! But their happiness does not continue long."
- High Altitude Battle: Stage 04 in X 2 takes place atop a moving plane.
- I Have Your Girlfriend
- In Name Only: The Japanese version, Spartan X, took its name from the Japanese title of the Jackie Chan film Wheels on Meals, since Irem bought the license to make a game based on the film. Despite the title, the game has nothing to do with the movie outside of the names of the two main characters (Thomas and Sylvia) and was more inspired by the unfinished Bruce Lee project Game of Death.
- Its Pronounced Tropay: According to the official brochure of the game, the main villain in Spartan X2 is named "Caeson", even though his name is pronounced almost like "Caesar" or "season".
- It's All Upstairs From Here: The entirety of the original game.
- Knife Nut: The knife-thrower Elite Mook in the first game, Murder Lin in X 2.
- Let X Be the Unknown: Mr. X, pretty much. The Japanese manual states the group he's leader of is also known as the "Mysterious Organization X".
- Licensed Game: In Japan, atleast.
- Martial Arts Uniform: Thomas in the first two games.
- Mighty Glacier: Strongman packs a very mean punch/kick, but he also telegraphs which attack he's going to use.
- Mirror Boss: Mr. X in the NES game uses the same moves as Thomas, added to his unique specialty in blocking/dodging attacks.
- My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Probably why Mr. X went through all the trouble of kidnapping Sylvia.
- Ninja: Most Mooks in the Game Boy game are these, plus two more as bosses. X 2 has 4 ninjas hidden in Caeson's olympic-sized swimming pool.
- No Export for You: Irem planned on releasing Spartan X 2 in North America under the title of Kung-Fu II, but for some reason they canceled the game in the last minute. Ads were still printed though, and Nintendo Power even published a brief review of the game.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: Whenever you complete the temple, the game plays a snippet of Dvorák's "New World Symphony".
- Obviously Evil: The Devil's Temple.
- Off with His Head: Kicking Magician has this effect: his head falls off and he teleports, unharmed.
- Personal Space Invader: Most enemies attack by throwing themselves on you and attempting to weigh you down.
- Pyromaniac: The Napalm Bomber.
- The Rival: Mr. X and Caeson. In the latter's case, it's implied they have met before (probably from the incident in which Johnny lost his family).
- Save The Girlfriend: The original game's plot.
- Scary Black Man: Strongman and Billy Beiry.
- Ship Level: Stage 03 in X 2.
- Smoke Out: Magician's teleport includes it.
- Spiritual Licensee: As noted above, the game's plot and structure are similar to Bruce Lee's ill fated project, Game of Death.
- Spiritual Successor
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: The last section in the final stage of X 2 has Johnny walking underwater without any ill effect. The Mooks falling into the water to hug him aren't affected either.
- Teleport Spam: The annoying habit of Magician and Chin Gensai.
- The Movie: The French film Le petit amour features the game heavily and became known internationally as Agnes Varda's Kung Fu Master!.
- Traintop Battle: Stage 02 in the Game Boy game and the first one in X 2.
- Urban Legend of Zelda: Supposedly, beating the original game 24 times in a row (the number equivalent to "X") would turn Sylvia into a True Final Boss. This has been confirmed to be a hoax thanks to the magic of save states and ROM hacking (Sylvia has no fighting animation).
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Both Tracey and Steve communicate with Johnny through their group's HQ-Link as part of the game's cutscenes.
- Whip It Good: Mr. Benjamin.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him: Invoked by Caeson, who claims that doing exactly that wouldn't be much fun, and instead challenges Johnny to a "special stage" made only for him.
- Yellow Peril: Chin Gensai.