You can start Karateka for Apple II backwards
Karateka, a first martial arts side-scroller released in the United States by Broderbund in 1984, was a little before my time. He was created by Jordan Mechner before he became Prince of Persia – a game that I do remember through horror sending this character to a bloody, pixelated death on a bed of spikes. Karateka was an early success, however, with subsequent iterations on NES and Game Boy. And the original version of Apple II included a delicious little Easter egg from the early days of PC gaming – putting the floppy upside down would start the game upside down.
It’s not really new – people have been trying this trick for over 35 years – but it was new to me, and I got a little refresher today thanks to the magic of YouTube. YouTuber Geek with Social Skills was demonstrating the game and received a note telling him that he should try inserting the game disc upside down. You can see for yourself what happened when he tried it – the title screen, intro, and game all appear upside down. It’s a delightfully simple joke, and it took a surprising amount of coding to make it work.
According to Mechner, the game’s developers were hoping a few people would find out by accident and think their game was broken. “When that person called tech support, that tech support rep would once in a blue moon have the sublime joy of saying, ‘Well, sir, you are putting the disc upside down,’” Mechner said in a statement. recent profile, “and that person would think for the rest of their life that this is how the software works.”
Developers, as we now know, have always had a weird sense of humor.
Mechner says he didn’t think Broderbund would approve it because it would require an assembly line change. But the company did, and a little hidden gem in gaming history was created because the president of a software company also had a sense of humor. For my part, I am grateful for that.