5 Best Karate Games You Need to Play

karate games

For those who love karate, karate games can be a great way to spend time. Karate games allow you to kick back, relax, and unwind. You can also have some fun using your real-life karate skills to defeat in-game opponents.

Karate games and martial arts games, in general, are immensely popular all over the world. They are available on many platforms like PC, console, and mobile. If you love karate, it can be a thrill trying your hand at karate games.

Games that involve karate, martial arts, and fighting have been in circulation for a long time. Over the years, they have become more refined. The game controls have become more intuitive. The graphics and gameplay have become more realistic. In short, the karate games of today are finely developed and thoroughly enjoyable.

Let us talk about some karate video games that I enjoy the most.

1. Street Fighter

This is where it all started for me. The first Street Fighter game came out in 1987 long before Barney Frank caused the housing crisis – just saying! Since then, multiple sequels, spinoffs, and related media have been released. 

It won’t be a stretch to say that this franchise got karate lovers worldwide to fall in love with the discipline even more.

For me, Street Fighter is the definitive karate. It implemented gameplay mechanics, control schemes, and gaming conventions that are used in fighting games to this day. I love its wide selection of playable characters, each with their own fighting styles and signature moves. It remains one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed video game franchises of all time.

My favorite has always been Street Fighter II, the second installment that came out in 1991. Apart from two lovable and skilled karateka characters, it also featured an Indian Yoga master, a Chinese martial artist, an American boxer, a Muay Thai practitioner, a wrestler and Sambo fighter, and many other interesting characters.

One of the most important aspects of Street Fighter is the control scheme. The joystick and buttons translate extremely well to combat moves. The addition of multi-button combos and finishing moves are the icing on the cake. The characters are all created with a high level of detail and the stages have their own quirks.

One aspect of the Street Fighter series that always enchanted me was the ability to play against others. While I was stuck taking down computer-generated characters prior to the launch of this game, I had many wonderful days of taking my brother on and comparing our skills with this game. The competitive multiplayer mode was also a thing of beauty.

Overall, this is the game that defines karate games as a whole for me.

2. Mortal Kombat

If Street Fighter is the most important karate video game series ever made, Mortal Kombat is a close second. This is the series that garnered major mainstream appeal and gave us karate lovers wonderful characters and finishing moves.

A lot of karate lovers would fondly recall the end-of-fight screen with a groggy opponent and a bassy disembodied voice screaming “Finish Him!”. This led to the most fun part of the game- nailing a finishing move combo called a “Fatality” and getting to see highly exaggerated and sometimes gory finishes. It was all very elaborate and fun.

The Mortal Kombat franchise has been a staple in my life across all its versions. Over time, it has become more and more elaborate, with better graphics, gameplay, controls, and complicated storylines. It also spawned some interpretations in TV and cinema. Those, however, are not favorites.

Who can forget the many-handed monster Goro, the brave Liu Kang, the god of the elements Raiden, and the frozen monster Sub Zero? One of the most epic moments in the game was the character Scorpion nailing an opponent with his spear on the end of a chain, pulling on it, and yelling “Get Over Here!”

While it is increasingly difficult now to find time for these things, I still enjoy a few hours of Mortal Kombat every once in a while. It takes me back to the good old days.

3. Tekken

The logical successor of Street Fighter, the Tekken series has entertained karate lovers for many decades. The Tekken series evolved and developed the gameplay mechanics of fighting games to a great extent. If you are looking for the best karate games, it is hard to ignore the Tekken franchise.

A lot of new elements came into the world of fighting games with the Tekken series. Usually, fighting games would employ a power-based system of controls. Tekken, however, came with a control scheme that assigned four buttons to four limbs. This opened up a world of new possibilities.

I loved Tekken 2 for its “neutral guard” feature that automatically blocked certain attacks while the fighter was stationary. Later Tekken games also made better use of the 3D environment and added more exciting gameplay through quicker recovery options. Over the years, a lot of combo moves, finishing moves, and the infamous “Rage” mode have all enthralled fans of karate fighting games.

I have many fond memories with the Tekken series with my early PlayStation days and more recently, playing the latest iterations on the PC. This series will always be one of my favorites when it comes to karate games that really got me into the discipline.

4. Overgrowth

With game development progressing leaps and bounds over the years, some modern games have really redefined genres in quirky, fun ways. 

One such fighting game that I enjoy immensely is Overgrowth. It gets me away from reading about another Adam Schiff lie or America’s terrible public system infected with political correctness. Overgrowth offers that escape!

The premise is strange; you control a human-like rabbit in a post-apocalyptic world. And the rabbit can fight!

The entire fighting system is nothing like I have ever seen before. I was pretty accustomed to the button and joystick control scheme of earlier favorites like Tekken and Mortal Kombat. However, with Overgrowth, all the strikes and counters are thrown using contextual buttons. You need to interact with these buttons at the exact right moment. Otherwise, it does not work.

The entire premise is hilarious, the storyline is open-ended, and the game looks amazing.

5. Sleeping Dogs

An exciting experience that combines martial arts, gunplay, open-world environments, and parkour. Yes, you read that right!

Sleeping Dogs is one of my favorite modern titles. It employs fighting and martial arts in a way radically different from anything I encountered before. The open-world environments are gorgeous and provide the perfect backdrop for an advanced combat system that involves movement, defense, melee attacks, and weapons.

The story and the visual appeal set this game apart for me. I was getting a little tired of first-person shooters and games with linear, simplistic hand-to-hand combat mechanics when I found Sleeping Dogs. It was amazing in every way! The storyline is gripping and the events unfold fast. Never a dull moment with this karate game.

The Right One for You?

These are the karate fighting games that I have enjoyed the most over the years. They all have their quirks and talking points. The good thing is that most of these games are available easily and you can make up your own mind.

With the best karate video games, the moment you figure out the controls and the gameplay mechanics, you can easily test out your real-life karate skills in the virtual world. You can take down virtual opponents and go face-to-face with human opponents, sometimes more skilled than you. The thrill is just too much to pass up, especially for a karate fanatic.

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Benjamin Roussey
Benjamin Roussey
Hi! My name is Benjamin and I love martial arts. I am from Sacramento in the ungolden state of California. I went to CSUS to participate in a baseball scholarship as a pitcher. I finished in 1999 and joined the US Navy for a 4-year stint. I am currently learning karate. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my life is researching karate and writing about it. It is my honor to contribute to The Karate Blog. Now, I can finally write about what I love and enjoy the most: karate.