Bruce Lee from DataSoft is an all-time C64 classic, and was and still is one of my personal all-time favorite games overall. I still remember back in the day, I had a computer magazine called Happy Computer, and in one issue of 1984, it had Bruce Lee as cover story. When I opened the page I was just amazed, my jaw dropped, and I just thought wow, look at these realistic graphics!! Well it was “only” 1984.
It still took some time before I could get my hands on a copy, first of all, the C64 itself was still not in my possession, had to wait for my parents to eventually get me one later that year, and getting software here in Luxembourg was not even nearly impossible, just impossible. In addition, everything was quite expensive; however, let us concentrate on this beauty of a game.
The game consists of 20 different rooms, which you have to pass and collect lanterns to reach the end room. You start on the first room, obviously, and some seconds later a ninja and a sumo called Yamo are spawned onto the screen. That happens also every time you run or jump into the next room, you start alone, some seconds later those 2 guys appear. They try to fight you, the ninja is using his blade, and Yamo tries to punch or kick you. Both are fairly easy to avoid or punch back though, not really posing a threat. Yamo also makes his war cry (Boao), but I never found out what it was good for? The whole game is quite easy to finish, perhaps besides one room, which can be trickier, but later more about that.
In some rooms there are kind of fountains, or geysers (?) splashing out hot water if you run over them, so when both of your enemies are running around wildly, AI was almost non existing, it can be tricky to get caught in one of those fountain’s splash causing your certain death. Just lie down flat on your belly, let them run around, if they come next to you to hit you, get up and run away. Btw, you have the ability to punch and fly kick them too, which is only fair, but most of the time you will not need to, just run past them.
Then you have these kind of electric floors, where you need to avoid the beam, and jump over it without being electrocuted, which straight away costs you one life. Most are easy, as they work with a certain pattern, which you figure out easily. And this takes me straight away to the so called “electric” room. Room number 15, which consists of 4 levels with these electric floors, each one having a different pattern, plus jumping down from the 3rd to the 4th leaves you without a resting platform, so that you have to precisely control your jump not to land straight away on top of the beam. I remember this room being especially tricky in the beginning. Depended also on your joystick, as you have to make some diagonal jumps, and with a Quickshot II, it was definitely not the easiest to pull off, but with a Competition Pro, the situation was manageable.
The platforming is done quite well, with some jumping and climbing, and timing is needed. There is even one room, where the lanterns turn on/off, and you have to jump at the lantern, which opens you the floor underneath, but if you miss the lantern the moment it is on, you just fall down, floor stays closed, and you are stuck, forever. As the ninja and Yamo cannot reach that spot.
Sadly, there is no real music in the game. While the sounds are fine, it completely lacks a soundtrack. The title screen includes music, which is good, quite memorable, as it loops all the time, and if you are stuck on the title screen some minutes, it will etch itself into your mind.
You also have two different difficulty settings, but as I remember the only thing that changes, is that both of your enemies are straight away on screen together with you at the start, instead of only spawning after several seconds. Same counts if you finish the game, it just starts from the beginning, only famous room 15 changes, leaving you no platform anymore at all to rest.
In the beginning, if you somehow think the game is too challenging, it seems to be a good idea to start a 2-player game, where one player controls Bruce Lee, and the other one controls Yamo. Therefore, while Bruce Lee concentrates on not dying and do the platforming, the other player can take out the ninja repeatedly. Although a bit more boring for the Yamo player, still a lot of fun can be had, but I guess the 2-player mode was more meant for competitive as for cooperative play.
Overall, I rate the game a 9 out of 10 and I highly recommend people to play it, if not done already. There was an unofficial sequel for Windows, but never converted for the C64 as far as I know. In addition, there is Ultimate Bruce Lee, a remake, which contains even different mods, is great to play, with the original C64 music, and is even free. Highly recommended. Check it out!!