Bikini Karate Babes

Year: 2002
Platform: Windows
Developer: Creative Edge Studios
Genre: Girl fighting
Review Date: 2/22/04
Rating: *

Curse my weakness for female fighting games! Not as bad as "Catfight" (1996) or "Love Upper" (2003), but that's not really a compliment. "Bikini Karate Babes" takes the gameplay mechanics of "Mortal Kombat" (1992) and replaces all of the characters with mythical female goddesses in skimpy swimwear. All of the goddesses are well versed in the martial arts, but no explanation is given as to why they are fighting each other or why they're wearing swimsuits. They also feature special "sexy" moves, like breast jiggling, ass wiggling, tickling, spanking, and bra stealing, as well as more extreme attacks like explosive farting and flame-throwing nipples. Eight characters are initially available, and twelve others are unlockable by beating the game. Unfortunately, there's not enough incentive to justify suffering through the game that long. (in fact, it's much quicker and easier to just hack the config file) The game features one and two player options, as well as the standard collection of fighting modes.

As you would expect, the production values of the game are pretty lousy. This is compounded by the difficulties of shooting the live action characters against green screen and keying them into the various stages. Lighting and skin tones are inconsistent, the characters reflect green at their boundaries, and flowing hair is just a disaster. The models/actresses/dancers in the game handle the choreography well and run the gamut of unattractive to pretty hot. Mira Popova (Aphrodite) definitely ranks as pretty hot. Several of the players are very fit and athletic, and their performances are actually quite impressive. Unfortunately, most of the girls suffer from really hideous makeup jobs, which makes their faces look like they belong to different bodies. The stages comprise of static 2D backgrounds with two to three layers of parallax scrolling. Much like "Mortal Kombat", or any game that mixes live action with painted backgrounds, the resulting aesthetic is poor and unconvincing. The game maintains a fairly steady frame rate, except when you use a particular move for the first time, and then the game freezes while it loads the video clip for that move.

But there are far more serious problems than this, which make the game nearly unplayable. As if the required 2.5GB of hard disc space and the recommended 192MB of RAM isn't enough of a burden (it took me six hours to clear up enough space just to install the game), the loading times are downright painful. It takes each match a full minute to load, which is sick and cruel considering that each round only lasts fifty seconds or less. The game then further insults the player by using poorly rendered 256 color artwork and backgrounds, and badly compressed lo-res MPEG movies. This is what bad video games looked like ten years ago. Even the MK rip-off "King Of Karate" on the Amiga used 24-bit color back in 1992. The actual gameplay doesn't fare much better. The controls are simple, but tend to be sluggish and unresponsive. The default control scheme uses the keyboard, and while the game claims to support other game controllers, the woefully inadequate documentation doesn't tell you how to actually get one to work. After about thirty minutes of experimentation (half of which was spent waiting for the game to load), I finally found the secret combination for activating the game controller. Then the game crashed. On the plus side, the character motion is smooth (when it's not loading) and the music score sounds pretty good for most part. However, one area where "Catfight" wins out is in packaging. "Catfight" actually had semi-competent box art, a publisher, and a small marketing channel. "Bikini Karate Babes" doesn't even have a box. Or instructions for that matter. It's only available online directly from the developers, and given this day and age of greedy and villainous game publishers, I suppose I can't blame them. Still, who in their right mind would publish and distibute this drek in the first place? The bottom line is that if you really want to see women in swimsuits with jiggling breasts, there are worse ways than BKB to spend your time. However, there are lots of better ways as well, that don't require as much sitting around and waiting.