Home » You can boot Karateka for Apple II upside down

You can boot Karateka for Apple II upside down

You can boot Karateka for Apple II upside down

Karateka, an early martial arts side-scroller published in the US by Broderbund in 1984, was a little before my time. It was created by Jordan Mechner before he went on to make Prince of Persia — a game I do remember thanks to the horror of sending that character to a bloody, pixelated death on a bed of spikes. Karateka however was an early hit, with later iterations making it to NES and Game Boy. And the original Apple II version included a delightful little easter egg from the early days of PC gaming — putting in the floppy disk upside down would boot up the game upside down.

This isn’t new exactly — people have been trying this trick for more than 35 years — but it was new to me, and I got a quick refresher today thanks to the magic of YouTube. YouTuber Geek with Social Skills was demoing the game, and got a note that he should try inserting the game disk upside-down. You can see for yourself what happened when he gave it a try — the title screen, intro, and game all display upside down. It’s a delightfully simple joke, and it took a surprising amount of coding to make it work.

According to Mechner, the game’s developers hoped that a few people would discover it by accident, and think their game was defective. “When that person called tech support, that tech support rep would once in a blue moon have the sublime joy of saying, ‘Well sir, you put the disk in upside-down,’” Mechner was quoted as saying in a recent profile, “and that person would think for the rest of their life that’s how software works.”

Developers, we now know, have had a weird sense of humor forever.

Mechner says that he didn’t think Broderbund would sign off on it because it would require a change to the assembly line. But the company did, and a little hidden gem of gaming history was made because the president of a software company had a sense of humor, too. I, for one, am grateful for that.

About the author


Janice Tilson

Janice has been phenomenal in the success of Stock Market Pioneer. She is the super dedicated types, always glued to her computer. She talks less, but when it comes to work, she is behind none. She is a tech geek and contributes to the technology section of Stock Market Pioneer.

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