SHANGHAI KID / Taiyo / Arcade
Shanghai Kid is surprisingly good. That's not to say it's actually a good game, I was just surprised that it wasn't a total piece of crap. It's sort of like the first Street Fighter game, except it came out about two years beforehand, and it's actually a bit more fun to play.
So the Shanghai Kid goes through various cities Fightin' Round The World in various tournaments, to become The Guy or something. The gameplay is a fusion of Karate Champ and the later Street Fighter game, which I think may owe an unacknowledged debt of gratitude to this one (Ryu and Ken's flying spinning kick particularly looks like it was "inspired" by this game.) During your match, circles appear on both you and the enemy at your high, mid or low points, and these indicate it is an optimal time to either hit the opponent in that area, or that the opponent is about to strike you in that area.
For the first few matches the game kinda feels like you can just waggle the joystick and mash buttons and still basically manage to always win somehow anyway. At about the 5th or 6th match, however, these cheesy guys come in that just start spamming ridiculous flying jump kicks at you all the time - a precursor to GamePro kids spamming M. Bison's Psycho Crusher from one side of the screen to the other over and over, I guess - and you really have to dodge and block when the game tells you to and take advantage of limited opportunities to beat them about the noggin in retaliation.
One other interesting point is that, seemingly at random, you go into a "rush" mode where you have the opportunity to chain together a bunch of strikes in sequence. Was this the forebear of combo systems in fighting games? Hmm.
Overall, it's ... not that great, but I still thought it was a sight better than both the first Street Fighter and Karate Champ. I thought the circle concept was actually a really good use of limited technology and programming skills at the time, I just wish it was paired up with less stiff and clunky gameplay.
* Gameplay Video