The Making of Karateka Hero Image

History You Can Play: The Making of Karateka Is the First in a Series of Interactive Documentaries


  • Digital Eclipse has announced The Making of Karateka, available this year for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
  • The Making of Karateka is an “interactive documentary” about the debut game from Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner. It’s the first in the new Gold Master Series.
  • Through rare design documents, video, audio, photos, and more, you can discover the story behind a legendary game – and play it, of course!

At Digital Eclipse, we believe classic games should be treated with more respect. As the developers of last year’s critically acclaimed releases Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection and Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, we’ve tried to chart a new path forward and set the standard for how our industry preserves and enhances the legacy of landmark video games.

Today, on the ID@Xbox Showcase, we unveiled the next step in our journey: the Gold Master Series. It’s a new line of independent, self-published games that we think are best described as “interactive documentaries.” Through video, digital artifacts, audio, photos, playable games, and more, Gold Master Series releases will tell the full stories of games that changed the world.

The Making of Karateka Screenshot

Game number one in the Gold Master Series is titled The Making of Karateka, and it’s all about the fascinating story behind a game that changed the industry. Before he created the Prince of Persia series, Jordan Mechner created Karateka on his Apple II computer, a game that made massive leaps in animation, music, and cinematic storytelling. For many players, it was the first game that ever felt like an interactive movie, and it set the tone for decades of cinematic gaming experiences to come.

In The Making of Karateka, you’ll meet Jordan Mechner – not the legendary veteran game designer we know today, but the unknown teenage college student who was desperate to break into the video game business. Through excerpts from his college journals, galleries of his design documents, and all-new video interviews, you’ll share Jordan’s struggles and triumphs as he creates a video game like no one had ever seen before.

The Making of Karateka Screenshot

We’ll also introduce you to Francis Mechner, Jordan’s father and one of the unsung heroes of video game history. When he saw his son struggling to animate lifelike human figures, he suggested Jordan try a classical animation technique known as rotoscoping. He even put on his wife’s karate gi and ran around in the woods behind their house in upstate New York so that Jordan could film his performance (this is how Francis, a celebrated behavioral psychologist, businessman, and concert pianist, became one of the first motion capture actors in video game history!). Through our interactive Rotoscope Theater, you’ll go hands on with Jordan’s design materials and see how the film footage became in-game sprites – no small feat for 1984 technology.

And, of course, you’ll get to play games – not just the finished retail versions of Karateka, but also several unfinished prototypes, including the original version that Jordan pitched to publishers. We’ve even included several prototype versions of Deathbounce, an arcade-style shooting game that Jordan was creating before he started on Karateka. Never released back in the day, Deathbounce is getting its first official release as part of The Making of Karateka.

The Making of Karateka Screenshot

At Digital Eclipse, we’re all about adding quality-of-life features to legacy game titles, so of course you’ll be able to save and load your games anywhere, use Rewind to get out of sub-optimal situations, and choose from a variety of authentic borders and screen filters. Our signature Watch Mode lets you view a playthrough of the game, then jump in at any time and start playing. In The Making of Karateka, we’re expanding on Watch Mode by adding a chapter select function that lets you jump immediately to key gameplay moments, as well as a commentary track from both Jordan and Francis.

We also love to update classic games for the modern era. Karateka Remastered is a brand-new version of the original with updated graphics, music, and gameplay. An optional commentary track from Digital Eclipse’s president Mike Mika discusses how he created this new version, and what made Jordan’s original so special.

The Making of Karateka Screenshot

Last but not least, we’ve even created an all-new version of the unreleased game Deathbounce, called Deathbounce: Rebounded, a fast and furious twin-stick shooter built on Jordan Mechner’s original ideas, sketches, and notes. Both these new games are included exclusively in The Making of Karateka.

The Making of Karateka is the deepest, most exhaustive exploration of the making of a single video game that’s ever been attempted in a video game itself. We believe that video games are the best medium in which to tell the stories of game history, and we hope The Making of Karateka and the Gold Master Series will convince you of that, too, when they are released later this year for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.