Making and Remaking Karateka

Update: Karateka is now available in the App Store and for Sony Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Steam.

The modern remake of Karateka (out today on Steam) has given me a great reason to dig into my archives and revisit the long-ago era when I developed the original Karateka on a 48K Apple II.

If you’re interested in making games, you may enjoy this series of short videos about the creative and technical process of making Karateka, then (1982) and now (2012). Each episode focuses on a different aspect of production: Inspiration, Animation, Sound and Music, and Gameplay. They’re posted below.

The game industry has changed a lot in thirty years. And yet the more things change, the more they stay the same. For readers interested in delving deeper into the old days, check out the rest of this post below the videos.

Episode 1: Inspiration

Episode 2: Animation

Episode 3: Sound and Music

Episode 4: Gameplay

From My Old Journals

When I started the first Karateka, in 1982, I was a 17-year-old Yale freshman and avid gamer, trying to balance a college courseload with my aspiration to become a published game author. Karateka made that dream a reality. It launched my career and paved the way for my next game, Prince of Persia.

That same year (1982), I started keeping a private journal — a habit I’d keep up for the next decade, as readers of The Making of Prince of Persia (1985-1993) will know. More surprisingly, I never got around to destroying it. And now it’s in the distant-enough past that, rereading it, I’m able to laugh rather than cringe (OK, so maybe it’s a bit of both).

As a time-capsule record of that early Apple II era, and a window into the maniacal brain of a teenager obsessed with “breaking in” to making games and/or movies, it may be of interest to others. So here it is (as DRM-free pdf, epub, and Amazon Kindle ebook, with print edition to follow): Volume One of my old journals, The Making of Karateka.

And, of course, I hope readers will check out the new Karateka.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog, Featured, Games, Karateka, Making Games, Old School | 16 comments


  1. 12-3-2012

    AWESOME!!! Thank you for making this remake! I used to play this game on my commodore 64.
    Also, I write soundtrack music. So, if you need any help with future games, I would love to help!

  2. 12-3-2012

    I’m surprised that the game designer can’t properly pronounce “karateka”.

  3. 12-4-2012

    I never played the original Karateka, but I do love these 2 “making of” episodes. Please add more in the future!

  4. 12-4-2012

    Read the whole thing in a single evening. Really loved it! Although I found the Prince of Persia more inspiring. Would love to read about The Last Express ;)

  5. 12-5-2012

    Wonderful, I used to play this game on Apple II.
    Jordan, you are the man, I recently started studying game development inspiring on your posts.
    Soon I’m going to read The “Making of Prince of Persia”.

  6. 12-5-2012

    Please Jordan do also a Mac and Linux porting of this new game, just like the good old times!

  7. 12-5-2012

    Could you please tell us which game engine you used to make this game ?
    I loved your publications about the making of your games.
    Congratulations, and thanks for share with us.

    • 12-7-2012

      Thanks! The new Karateka uses Epic’s Unreal 3 engine. The original Apple II Karateka used no engine at all — or I guess you could say a “custom engine” if you want to be grandiose.

  8. 12-7-2012

    Update: All four videos are now posted.

  9. 12-10-2012

    I loved the Making of Prince of Persia Diaries. Will you do a making of The Last Express book?

  10. 12-16-2012

    Hello Jordan, Karateka is such an important game for me ! It was my first c64 game, i finished it like a “zillion” of time and i’m not far from the truth. Damm i wish my english would be better, i’d have so many things to say, anyway LOVE the new one… so much that i bough it two times, the XBLA and the PC version ! Great game and i was surprise by the design which is just fantastic. Any plan to realease the music on CD or downloadable ?
    Thanks for all that incredible work you have done during all these years !

  11. 12-16-2012

    I’m anxious for iOS version. Please make a Mac version as well.

    • 12-20-2012

      The iOS version came out today! I’m getting mine. :D

  12. 12-19-2012

    So much passion. Things that endure, this is beautiful.

  13. 2-16-2013

    Hi I was just wondering if you had plans to release on android?

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