I played the arcade version of Karnov a few times, back in the ’80s. I barely have any memory of it, though and I guess that’s because the original Nintendo port was a damn good port.
Playing this now, it’s damn near identical to its 8-bit port, other than the graphics are a bit better and the gameplay is slightly smoother.
I used to play the NES game a lot. But it’s nice getting refamiliarized with this one.
Karnov is a cool character that was also featured in other Data East games to the point that he essentially became their Mario. He’s actually the first boss in both versions of the Bad Dudes video games.
Since the character became so prominent for Data East, it’s surprising that this game never got a sequel. It’s unique, cool as fuck and as I’ve already pointed out, features a prominent character for the developer.
These games remind me a lot of the Rygar games, as it features a unique hero in a very unique but interesting fantasy setting. Both games have cool landscapes, awesome beasts to battle and present a serious challenge that isn’t unbeatable but requires the development of great skill to do so.
Karnov is just a blast to play, even if it’s difficult to adjust to its playing style. Frankly, this should’ve birthed a long-running franchise. Maybe if it became that, Data East would still exist today.
Pairs well with: other side scrolling fantasy action games for the arcade and the original Nintendo.