Karnov (1987)

by Nish
6 minutes read


Karnov (1987): A Journey Through the Fiery Depths of Retro Gaming

In the annals of classic arcade gaming, few titles evoke the same sense of nostalgia and excitement as Karnov. Released in 1987 by Data East, Karnov is a side-scrolling platformer that pits players against giant crabs, fire-breathing dragons, and other formidable foes. With its charming pixel art, addictive gameplay, and unforgettable protagonist, Karnov has cemented its place as a beloved gem of the retro gaming era.

The Legend of Karnov

The game follows the adventures of Jinborov Karnovski, a burly strongman from the fictional Soviet republic of Karnovia. Known simply as “Karnov” to his friends and foes alike, our hero embarks on a quest to rescue the beautiful princess from the clutches of the evil sorcerer Astaroth.

Along the way, Karnov must traverse a treacherous gauntlet of eight levels, each filled with its own unique challenges and hazards. From the depths of the ocean to the fiery pits of hell, Karnov’s journey is a true test of strength, skill, and determination.

Gameplay: A Symphony of Simplicity and Excitement

Karnov’s gameplay is a perfect blend of simplicity and excitement. Players control Karnov as he runs, jumps, and punches his way through hordes of enemies. Karnov’s signature move is his powerful punch, which can send enemies flying across the screen. He can also perform a variety of other moves, such as a fiery uppercut and a devastating ground pound.

The game’s levels are filled with a variety of obstacles and traps, including spikes, pits, and boulders. Karnov must use his agility and quick reflexes to avoid these hazards and reach the end of each level.

A Cast of Unforgettable Characters

In addition to its iconic protagonist, Karnov features a cast of memorable characters, both friendly and hostile. Along the way, Karnov encounters a helpful genie who grants him wishes, a wise old man who provides guidance, and a beautiful princess who awaits his rescue.

The game’s enemies are equally diverse, ranging from giant crabs and fire-breathing dragons to sword-wielding skeletons and flying demons. Each enemy type has its own unique attack patterns and weaknesses, forcing players to adapt their strategies accordingly.

Visuals and Sound: A Pixelated Masterpiece

Karnov’s pixel art graphics are a testament to the artistic skill of Data East’s designers. The game’s characters and environments are rendered in vibrant colors and intricate detail, creating a visually stunning world that draws players in.

The game’s soundtrack is equally impressive, featuring a catchy main theme and a variety of stage-specific tracks that perfectly capture the atmosphere of each level. The sound effects are also top-notch, adding to the overall immersion and excitement of the gameplay.

Legacy and Impact

Karnov was a critical and commercial success upon its release in 1987. The game was praised for its addictive gameplay, charming visuals, and memorable characters. Karnov quickly became one of Data East’s most popular arcade titles, and it has since been ported to a variety of home consoles and handheld devices.

The game’s legacy extends beyond its initial release. Karnov has been featured in numerous retrospectives and compilations, and it continues to be enjoyed by fans of retro gaming around the world. The game’s protagonist, Karnov, has also become an iconic figure in the world of video games, appearing in other Data East titles and even making a cameo appearance in the popular fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.


Karnov (1987) is a true classic of the arcade era. With its addictive gameplay, charming visuals, and unforgettable characters, Karnov has stood the test of time and remains a beloved favorite among retro gaming enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the world of classic arcade games, Karnov is a must-play experience that will transport you back to the golden age of gaming.

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