The Way of the Exploding Fist is a classic one-on-one martial arts fighting game, developed by Australian company Beam Software and published by Melbourne House in 1985.
The game does borrow heavily from the Technos arcade game, Karate Champ, which came out the previous year, but it does things a little differently, and it plays a lot better than Karate Champ. Exploding Fist also came out before the late Archer Maclean and System 3‘s arguably even better fighting game, International Karate, and created a flood of one-on-one fighting games on home computers in the mid-Eighties. It certainly helped popularise the beat ’em up genre a long time before Street Fighter II arrived on the scene.
The Way of the Exploding Fist is a simple game overall. You basically have to fight an opponent in timed bouts, and the first one to gain two full points is the winner. Points and half points are awarded depending on the type of moves used, and how cleanly they connected. As you progress through the game (and up the Dans), the skill and aggressiveness of your opponents increases, and the game gradually becomes more difficult. In fact: the difficulty curve in this game is very well judged and is one of reasons why it is so highly regarded.
When you reach 3rd Dan you then have to face off against a charging bull, and knock it down with one punch, which takes immaculate timing. This is pretty much a direct lift from Karate Champ.
The Way of the Exploding Fist is a very fondly-remembered game by anyone who played it back in mid-Eighties and is still great fun to play even now, although better fighting games did eventually appear on the C64. The excellent soundtrack, by Neil Brennan, is one of the reasons why the game is so well-liked, and it is atmospheric and memorable. Exploding Fist was also the best-selling home computer game of 1985 in the UK, and sold more than half a million copies across Europe. Which is an indicator of its enduring popularity.
A far less successful sequel, called Fist II: The Legend Continues, was released in 1986.