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Video Game / Karnov

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Karnov, Data East's hero and mascot.
Karnov is an action platformer from Data East, first released for the arcade in 1987. The eponymous fire-breathing east-Russian strongman, Jinborov Karnovski, must go through nine different levels to search for the ultimate treasure while fighting against monsters on his way. The twist here is that Karnov can enhance his arsenal with the items throughout the stages, and occasionally summon special equipment like ladders to help his quest.

The game didn't exactly set the arcade on fire at the time, but regardless it had favorable reception, and got many ports for a number of systems, ranging from NES to various European computers. Karnov himself also became a mascot of some sort. Not only was he featured in numerous Data East arcade games but he took role as a Final Boss in Fighter's History series.

Karnov provides examples of:

  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The Japanese cover has Karnov in cartoon-y tone, while the North America one (featured above) depicts him in more Boris Vallejo-esque realistic theme.
  • Breath Weapon: Karnov can spout out Fireballs against the enemies. They can be upgraded to aim wider range.
  • Husky Russkie: None other than Karnov.
  • Continuing is Painful: Dying even once means you're sent back to the last checkpoint without your fire-breathing upgrade, as well as all the options you collected. Good luck restoring your power-ups while dealing with swarming enemies.
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  • Difficulty by Region: In arcade release, the international version tends to be more difficult, since it's more packed with monsters within the stages, and even adds some exclusive monsters that punish stalling players.
  • Excuse Plot: The arcade version has Karnov looking for pieces of map that locates the location of treasure.
    • Averted in the Famicom version, where Karnov is forced (as punishment for breaking a holy statue) by God to defeat the monster army of Arakatai.
  • Item Caddy: Karnov being this is core gameplay of the game. You can summon assorted items at any time to help your quest.
  • Multiple Endings: The Famicom version features three endings where Karnov is rewarded by God for defeating the Big Bad, based on how many continues you used to beat the game. When the game was brought outside Japan, however, the entire cutscene (including the prologue before the game starts) was dropped, and it just shows simple "The End". That being said, the overseas version gives you unlimited continues, whereas the Japanese one declares Game Over if you died too much.
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  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Karnov may have big muscles with Stout Strength, but a poke by any enemy instantly kills himnote . Furthermore, all his attacks are fireballs he spouts out.
  • Nominal Hero: The only reason Karnov is saving the world in the Famicom version is because he was forced to be a servant of God. Also counts for the arcade version where Karnov's main goal is the fabled Treasure of Babylon.
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: Karnov dies in one hit on any occasion in the arcade version. NES version has more generous HP system, where Karnov can stand one more hit, which would turn him blue and can be restored to his normal form by collecting a fireball upgrade.
  • Rogue Protagonist: Karnov's many cameo appearances in other Data East games such as Bad Dudes and Trio the Punch involve him fighting the protagonists as a boss character. He's even the Final Boss for one such Data East franchise; Fighter's History.
  • Stout Strength: Is Karnov a bit chunky? Yes. Is he strong? Most definitely.

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