The Way of the Exploding Fist

Game Meta:
Other Names:
Kung Fu: The Way of the Exploding Fist
Release Year:
Gregg Barnett (Design, Programming), Bruce Bayley (Additional Programming), David Johnston (Additional Programming), Greg Holland (Unknown, Graphics), Neil Brennan (Music)
Beam Software (Developer), Melbourne House (Publisher)

“The Way of the Exploding Fist” was one of Beam Software’s best-selling games, and reached number one in Europe. It was one of the first ‘beat-‘em-up’ games for the home computer and the first multi-move beat em up. Jordan Mechner’s “Karateka”(1984) which came out just before “The Way of the Exploding Fist” was basically punch and kick.

The game offered an unprecedented  sixteen karate moves, which allows for strategic game playing and complexity. Combinations of joystick directions (or keys on the keyboard) and the fire button (or SHIFT-key) make this game initially complicated to learn. However, once mastered, the controls are intuitive and become standard on single-button control systems.  Designer and programmer Gregg Barnett practised all the movements as he developed it, mapping the combinations onto the joystick so that they felt fluid and natural.

The game allows for thumps, cracks and cries when you or your opponent is kicked effectively. Its sound design really bringing home the sense of the combat in contrast Neil Brennan‘s soundtrack offering an atmospheric sense of place. One of the most memorable features seems to be the intensive and high volume scream of ‘kai-ai ’ during the loading screen. made possible by Beam Softwares fast loader the Pav-Loada. The animation of the fighters is impressive, Beam’s artist Greg Holland  cunningly  dividing the body into two grids to support more complex animations.  The quality of the graphics, including Japanese background imagery, adds to the overall essence of the game.

A review in “Crash” (issue 10, 1985, p12) says that “The Way of the Exploding Fist” ‘… is by far and away the best sports combat simulation available yet.’

Version information:

Beam Software made two sequels to “The Way of the Exploding Fist”. “Fist 2: The Legend Continues” (1986), was a side-scrolling adventure with some beat em up style fighting. “Exploding Fist +”. was in the style of the the original, but also included combat with 3 characters, which was popular with “Fist’s” greatest rival, “International Karate+”.


Loading Screen, C64

Screenshot, C64

Screenshot, C64

Screenshot, C64

Screenshot, C64

Loading Screen, ZX Spectrum

Demo Screen, ZX Spectrum

Screenshot, ZX Spectrum

Title Screen, Amstrad

Screenshot, Amstrad

Screenshot, Amstrad

Screenshot, Amstrad

Screenshot, Amstrad

Box Art:

The Way of the Exploding Fist cover and tape (C64)

The Way of the Exploding Fist cover (C64)

Box Art, Front, C64

Box Art, Back, C64

Cassette, C64

UXB Box Front, USA , C64

Mastertonic Box Art, Front, C64

Media Coverage:

Crash Magazine, Sept.1988, p.88

Crash Magazine, Oct., 1987, p.41

Crash Magazine, Oct., 1985, p.13

Crash Magazine, Oct., 1985, p.12

Crash Magazine, Nov., 1985, p.12

Crash Magazine, July, 1985, p.9

Sinclair User, Dec., 1985, p.17

Sinclair User, Feb., 1986, p.30

Sinclair User, March, 1988, p.31

Sinclair User, Oct.,1985, p.27

Gameplay videos:

Interview videos:

Do you have a memory or thought to share?

7 thoughts on “The Way of the Exploding Fist

  1. I must’ve been 10 years old or so when my friend brought over his cassette copy of “The Way of the Exploding Fist” by Melbourne House. We loaded it up on my C64 (I remember the loading screen of the guy punching through the signage and the sampled screeched that accompanied it) and played all afternoon. It was the most amazing game I had ever played. The big, colourful art, well drawn characters and animation, incredibly catchy music, and fast action with so many moves as well as blocks and parries you could do. There was absolutely nothing like it at the time (Karate Champ did come before it, but it had really slow, methodical combat, very much like Karateka).

    Unfortunately, my friend had to go home eventually and took his game with him. I decided to keep the C64 on for as long as possible and never turn it off or I’d lose the game. That C64 managed to stay on for 3 days straight afterwards, and Way of the Exploding Fist became the catalyst for my curiosity on local games development and why I ended up making a site like tsumea.

  2. Overriding memory of Fist?


    That scream when the loading screen appeared. I just about needed a fresh pair of pants the first time I played it.

    It was such a great game for its time, though, especially for two players. Oddly, I was just playing it again today. I think another feature that sticks in the mind is the bonus section with the bull. I always thought it was odd, and then I worked out that you could actually knock it out! Now that was a good feeling…

    A landmark in computer gaming.

  3. I remember that scream too.

    I got my introduction to the game in 1988 or so. I was at my best friend’s house, and he said, “Watch this,” then cranked the volume at just the right time and freaked his younger sister out with that sound effect. So of course I asked for a copy, took it home, and did the same thing to my younger sister. Ah, youth.

  4. Way of Exploding fist?

    Probobly second game i played on 64 (after Ghosts’n Goblins)
    I stopped by friends house and he just loaded it on Tape and we started playing it. We played it so much the tape just wore out and had to go to store get another tape, which was like $25, thats a lot for a kid back in 80’s.
    1541 Drives were still expensive and stores were usually all out.

    It woudnt be another year until i got 1541 drive and 1200 Modem then everything changed. I was downloading games off Pirate BBS’s all night
    Very Happy

  5. Commodore Force
    Issue 1 (Jan 93)
    Issue 7 (Jul 93)

    Commodore Format
    Issue 35 (Aug 93)

    Commodore User
    Issue 22 (Jul 85)

    Your Commodore
    Issue 74 (Dec 90)

    Issue 4 ( Aug 85)

  6. The second game after GnG to be played in a C64.

    The Fist 1 was a stunner.. A magic experience.

    Fist2 was a big thriller that haunted our teen days, because of the famous bug. Melbourne House was ridden with bugs. For god’s sake.. Fist II and then Asterix.. It was a nightmare.
    And they didn’t fix their error by providing replacements for all the legal buyers worldwide. There was no internet back then.

    Something that is lost and I don’t see it mentioned is the back side of the Fist-II tape, called Fist tournament that featured new landscapes and more fluid animation.

    Does anyone remember Fist tournament?

  7. I remember Fist Tournament, on the flip side of the Fist II tape, though I’d forgotten it for almost 30 years! Some of the opponents on that looked cool: the guy with the cap and the one with the mask. It was a nice bonus to the full Fist II game, which had real atmosphere.

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