Spartan X (1984)

by Christopher
5 minutes read


Spartan X (1984): The Birth of the Beat ‘Em Up

Spartan X, released in arcades in 1984, is widely regarded as the first true beat ’em up video game. Developed by Irem and published in Japan by the same company, Spartan X was later published in North America by Data East under the title Kung-Fu Master.

The game is loosely based on the 1984 Jackie Chan film Wheels on Meals, known as Spartan X in Japan. The Japanese version of the game features many elements from the film, including the main character’s appearance and fighting style, as well as the game’s setting and enemies.


Spartan X is a side-scrolling beat ’em up in which the player controls a martial artist who must fight his way through hordes of enemies to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend. The game is known for its simple but addictive gameplay, which involves punching, kicking, and throwing enemies.

Spartan X also features a number of innovative gameplay elements for its time, such as the ability to pick up and use weapons, and the ability to perform special moves by pressing certain button combinations.


Spartan X was a critical and commercial success, and is considered by many to be one of the most important video games of all time. The game’s success helped to popularize the beat ’em up genre, and its influence can be seen in many subsequent games, such as Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, and Final Fight.

Spartan X is also notable for its historical significance. The game is often credited with being the first beat ’em up video game, and it helped to lay the foundation for the genre that would become one of the most popular in gaming history.

Cultural Impact

Spartan X has had a significant impact on popular culture. The game’s iconic characters and gameplay have been referenced in numerous other works of popular culture, including movies, TV shows, and music.

For example, the main character of Spartan X, Thomas, is featured as a playable character in the 2008 video game Kung Fu Master: Jackie Chan. The game’s music has also been sampled in numerous hip-hop songs, including “The World Is Yours” by Nas and “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan.


Spartan X is a groundbreaking video game that helped to define the beat ’em up genre. The game’s simple but addictive gameplay, innovative features, and cultural impact have made it one of the most important video games of all time.

Additional Information

  • Spartan X was originally released in Japan as a tie-in to the Jackie Chan film Wheels on Meals.
  • The North American version of the game, Kung-Fu Master, was released without the movie license.
  • Spartan X was one of the first video games to feature a female protagonist.
  • The game’s music was composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi, who also composed the music for the original Donkey Kong arcade game.
  • Spartan X has been ported to numerous home platforms, including the NES, Sega Master System, and Commodore 64.

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