Is Best of the Best Really the Best?
Best of the Best Championship Karate has a bit of an interesting history. Reportedly starting life as André Panza Kick Boxing for the PC Engine, as well as various computing consoles in Europe, it was later rebranded Best of the Best Championship Karate, or Super Kick Boxing: Best of the Best and was further plastered all over the gaming world. How effective was the rebranding scheme to extend the life of this game? Well, if you call your game Best of the Best you better be able to back it up, so it really should have been called Pretty Abysmal Karate Tournament.
Without the manual, I have to admit, I was completely confused from the start. The game tries to present itself as if it was Caesar’s Palace and you’re the next kickboxing champ. There is so much information thrown at you as soon as you start the game it might take a bit to sort through it all. You can customize your character’s face by choosing from a few pre-rendered faces. You can change your opponent and see what their stats are. The real meat and potatoes of this game, I thought, was going to be the ability to train and be stronger, but even so it still never seemed to do any good.
My view toward this game is largely apathetic because of the controls. Instead of using all the buttons available on the SNES controller they chose the use a button and D-pad combo to get things done motto. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Supposedly the Sega Genesis version offers support for the Sega Activator, which I would imagine is far better than the controls on the SNES. I have played a lot of games with bad control layouts and Best of the Best isn’t the worse offender, but it is pretty bad. Maybe it’s me being a grumpy old man, or maybe this game just really is a horrible waste of silicon, but either way it just never sparked any interest in me whatsoever to give it more time than I already had.
I hate giving up on games, but sometimes that’s what happens. When a game doesn’t reward you for the challenge and keep you engaged but instead requires more from you for the privilege of being challenged it’s just not worth your time. No, it’s never going to be thought of as a hidden gem, but what it did was kind of unique. This is one of those games that felt overly ambitious but could have actually been a decent game. Had it just been better thought out and executed this probably could have been a memorable game, but it just didn’t work out that way.
Best of the Best is a game I picked up many years ago solely as an oddity because it was cheap and it came in a rental case with nearly all of its original rental paraphernalia. It’s not worth much, even CIB, but it does conjure up nostalgia of being in a small, hometown rental store and taking this pile of trash home on a Friday night but only playing it once and promptly regretting it for the rest of the weekend. If nothing else that’s where its value is, a trinket that stirs nostalgia of a bygone are, because I sure as heck don’t plan to play it ever again.