Bruce Lee (the game, not the ass-kicking movie star) was made in 1984 for the Commodore 64 and published by Datasoft inc, which later went bust. The remainder of the company was actually bought out by two of their ex-employees and re-branded as IntelliCreations, which also went bust. Random piece of trivia: Their biggest investor was Gilette, the same company that makes razors and shaving cream. Go figure.
Anyways, Bruce Lee the game is a 2D side scrolling action/platformer with the late and freaking awesome Bruce Lee as the playable main character. The 8-bit graphics are rather simplistic but do manage to create a surprising amount of atmosphere while the sound effects are about what you would expect from the Commodore 64. The controls are very fluid and responsive, which is a huge plus considering the amount of timing that goes into a lot of the jumps throughout the game.
Bruce Lee himself has two main attacks, an almost completely useless punch and much more useful fly-kick. While the punch, on the rare occasion it actually connects, does inflict damage, the fly kick inflicts damage and sends the enemy flying backwards. If timed correctly, you can kick an enemy on his ass and then continually kick him just as he is getting up, meaning that he never has a chance to touch you as you pummel him to death. Groovy. Bruce Lee can also jump straight up and across on an angle, pretty stock standard for an 8-bit platformer. The last move in Bruce’s repertoire is a crouching maneuver. It essentially makes him immune to any attacks, but he is unable to attack as well. I didn’t use the crouch very much because when I did the enemies would simply hang around and then hit me as I was just getting up.
There are two types of enemy in the game; a ninja and a sumo wrestler. The ninja is represented by a small black sprite with a sword and the sumo wrestler is represented by a bigger and lighter colored one. The thing that surprised me was that the ninja can only attack with his pathetically short ranged sword, while the sumo wrestler and punch and perform a fly kick. I don’t know if you have seen a sumo match but those guys do not fly kick each other, I think it would actually break the laws of physics. Also, for some fucked-up reason the sumo’s fly kick is faster that Bruce Lee’s, which means that if both you and the sumo launch into your fly-kicks at the same time, the sumo will hit and you will get a foot to the face. Try and figure that one out.
The main objective of the game is to collect lanterns which are spread throughout the levels. Because collecting the lanterns unlocks new parts of the game, it is essential to collect them all, because if you miss one then you may find you have no way of going back to get it, meaning you will never progress to the next section of the game due to not having collected enough lanterns. The lanterns themselves change shape and color depending on the section of the game you are in so you need to watch for anything that looks like it’s blinking with light (a tell-tale sign of a lantern).
This game was released to mostly positive reviews. Two common complaints it got, however, was that it is both too short and too easy. I wouldn’t really agree with that wholeheartedly. While it’s not overly difficult, it still poses a challenge and there is enough content there to warrant a decent gaming session. I think when you compare it to its contemporaries of the time it may seem a bit on the easy side, though this has more to do with most other platformers released around that time being ball-bustingly impossible than this game being a complete cake-walk.
The version I have played and reviewed is actually a remake of the original, however it is almost identical to the original in every way. Follow the link at the top of the post to see the creators homepage complete with a handy download link.