Prince of Persia Creator Jordan Mechner To Helm New Karateka Game
During a Q&A panel at the San Diego Comic-Con, Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner revealed that he is working on a followup to Karateka, the first video game he developed.
Published in 1984 when Mechner was attending Yale University, Karateka featured impressive fluid animation that laid the groundwork for his influential 1989 game Prince of Persia.
"There actually is a plan to bring back Karateka," the designer said. "It's a project I'm going to be involved in. I can safely say it's not going to be in the way you expect."
Asked by Gamasutra whether the project is indeed a video game, Mechner confirmed that it is.
Responding to a separate question about the original Karateka, Mechner recounted how he and one of the game's other programmers pulled off one of gaming's stranger Easter eggs.
"The programmer doing copy protection for the game figured out that by messing with the bit table, the whole game could be played upside down, which is really hard to do," he explained. "We thought it would be hilarious if we burned the flipped version of the game to the other side of the disk.
"We figured of all the people who buy the game, a couple of them would accidentally put the floppy in upside down," he continued. "That way, when that person calls tech support, that tech support rep would once in blue moon have the sublime joy of saying, 'Well sir, you put the disk in upside down,' and that person would think for the rest of their life that's how software works."
As it turned out, brass at publisher Broderbund was receptive to the idea: "We went do the president of Broderbund to propose this, and we didn't think they'd go for it, because it would require an assembly line change to actually burn the game onto both sides of the disk, which adds however many cents. So we went in, and he said, 'Sure. Do it.'"