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.
- Difficulty by Region: In arcade release, the international version tends to be more difficult, since it's more packed with monsters withing 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.
- 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: 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.
- 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 fireball upgrade.
- Stout Strength: Is Karnov fat? Yes? Is he strong? Most definitely.