Spartan X

Arcade Video game published 39 years ago by Irem

Listed in MAME

Spartan X screenshot

Spartan X © 1984 Irem Corp.

Thomas, the game's hero, and his girlfriend Sylvia are suddenly ambushed by a group of unknown assailants, and Sylvia is kidnapped. Thomas receives a ransom demand from the mysterious 'X' informing him that Sylvia is being held in the Devil's Temple.

Thomas must kick and punch through the five enemy-packed floors of the temple to reach Sylvia and rescue her. A fearsome guardian awaits the player at the end of each floor, and must be defeated before Thomas can continue his progress up through the temple.

Goodies for Spartan X
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Irem M-62 system hardware

Main CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 3.072 Mhz)
Sound CPU : Motorola M6803 (@ 894.886 Khz)
Sound Chips : (2x) General Instrument AY8910 (@ 894.886 Khz), (2x) MSM5205 (@ 384 Khz)

Players : 2
Control : 4-way joystick
Buttons : 2
= > [1] Kick, [2] Punch

The game has more than 10,000 lines of assembly code and 28 ROMs (including 177 KB of graphics), main code 2x 16 KB.


This game is known outside of Japan as "Kung-Fu Master".

Spartan X was the first sideways-scrolling beat-em-up. While understandably not as polished as the games it would go on to inspire, Spartan X is still regarded as an absolute classic. It is also fiendishly difficult.

The official name for the regular fighters is 'Gripper'.
The official name for green-clad boys which make their first appearance on Floor 2 is 'Tom Tom'.

This game is based on the Bruce Lee movie 'Game of Death' then changed and marketed together in 1984 with the movie 'Wheels on Meals', starring Jackie Chan (as Thomas) and Sammo Hung (who also directed). This movie is called 'Spartan X' in Japan.

In the game you have a 5-Floor Pagoda (which is Beopjusa in Chungcheongbuk-do, South-Korea) and the Giant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In the movie 'Bruce's Finger', you can see the kidnapping letter and a tied-up girl in a red dress. In the movie 'Goodbye Bruce Lee, his Last Game of Death' you can see the red pillars and the ceiling tape, like in the game.

A French movie, 'Le Petit Amour', by Agnes Varda, doesn't have 'Kung-Fu Master' just as the name in USA but also has an intro with a scroll-lateral reference to the game and a lot of scenes of the game itself too! One thing that can cause some strangeness is the fact that the movie is a romance and not a fighting/action movie as the US name can propose.


Scoring in this game is relatively simple. Some of the scoring depends on whether you kick or punch an enemy. You get more points punching enemies.

Kick on Grippers : 100 points
Kick on Tom Toms : 200 points
Kick on Knife Throwers : 500 points (Require 2 hits)

Punch on Grippers : 200 points
Punch on Tom Toms : 300 points
Punch on Knife Throwers : 800 points (Require 2 hits)

Jump Kick on Grippers : 200 points
Jump Kick on Tom Toms : 300 points
Jump Kick on Knife Throwers : 1,000 points (Require 2 hits)

Knock out leaping Tom Toms : 400 points

If you kick or punch into a group, you have a chance of knocking more then one fighter off the floor. The progressions for this are...

Progression for Jump Kick or Punch :
1 person : 200 points
2 persons : 400 points
3 persons : 600 points
4 persons : 800 points

For everyone beyond the 4th person, it stays at 800 points.

Progression for a Kick or Low Sweep :
1 person : 100 points
2 persons : 200 points
3 persons : 300 points
4 persons : 400 points

For everyone beyond the 4th person, it stays at 400 points.

On the 2nd and 4th floors, you will encounter some different enemies.
Dragons : 2,000 points
Confetti Balls : 1,000 points
Vases (Kicked) : 200 points
Vases (Punched) : 100 points
Poisonous Moths (Kicked) : 500 points
Poisonous Moths (Punched) : 600 points

You also get points for the bosses :
1st Floor (Stick Fighter) : 2,000 points
2nd Floor (Boomerang Fighter) : 3,000 points
3rd Floor (Giant) : 3,000 points
4th Floor (Black Magician) : 5,000 points
5th Floor (Mr. X) : 10,000 points

At the end of each floor, you will receive bonus points by adding your time remaining + your remaining energy. To complete a floor, you must go up the stairs to the next floor.


* When you start the game, Thomas will be at the right side of the screen. It will then be your job to navigate him through the five floors to Mr. X. On each floor, you are under a time crunch. The Timer starts at 2,000 and only stops when you go up the stairs to the next floor. Sometimes players forget this and think after you defeat the boss then the floor is over.

* If Thomas is grabbed by the Grippers or Tom Toms, just rapidly shake the joystick left and right. This will throw them off of Thomas although you get no points for it. You will lose energy if they hold on to you plus Thomas cannot fight while being held.

* Tom Toms can only be destroyed with crouching attacks. If they leap toward you, stand or jump out of a crouch to knock them out.

* Knife Throwers can be particularly dangerous. In the lower levels, they throw at a medium or high height. Later on, they also will throw low. It takes two hits to take out a Knife Thrower. In the higher levels, don't be surprised if Thomas has a Knife Thrower on either side of him. The best way to counter this is to move toward the left or right to get one of the Knife Throwers off the screen and deal with the other one.

* Speaking about the above two points, a particularly dangerous situation emerges when Thomas is being held and Knife Throwers appear on the scene. You have to rapidly get Thomas free and deal with the Knife Throwers. Failing to do this will result in a quick death for Thomas.

* Try to make it to the boss as quickly as possible since you are on limited time. You will know when the boss is around since all other people on the screen disappear.

* As you are moving along the floor, you will be assaulted by different people and things. Enemies encountered will depend on which floor you are currently on. As you finish each Devil's Temple, the floors will get harder as the enemies become more numerous and quicker. The floors are broken up like this :

1ST FLOOR : This floor just has Grippers and Knife Throwers. They do become more numerous the more Temples you successfully complete.

2ND FLOOR : This floor has a few different enemies to deal with.
1) You will be assaulted by vases and confetti balls. If you do not destroy the vases before they hit the floor, they will release dragons or snakes. You can attempt to kick or punch the dragons, but it is risky since they blow fire from their mouths. This in addition to other enemies around you. As for the snakes, your only defense is to jump over them.
2) The confetti balls explode after a period of time sending shrapnel in all directions. These can be destroyed before they do any harm.
3) On the final part of the floor, you will deal with Grippers, Tom Toms, and Knife Throwers. (This is where the Tom Toms make their first appearance.)

3RD FLOOR : This floor is like the first floor except now you will also have Tom Toms to deal with.

4TH FLOOR : This floor only has a couple of enemies to deal with.
1) At the beginning of the floor, Poisonous Moths will be released from the walls. They will come at Thomas randomly high, medium, or low. That means you will have to do some fancy footwork to either avoid them or take them out.
2) After the Poisonous Moths, the rest of the floor is the usual Grippers, Tom Toms, and Knife Throwers.

5TH FLOOR : Just like the 3rd floor except the Knife Throwers come out more frequently now.

* Defeating The Bosses : There are five bosses to deal with in this game. For most of the bosses, if you can back them up against the stairs and start pounding on them, you will defeat them very quickly. Of course, some bosses won't work with you in that area so you have to try other methods.

1) STICK FIGHTER : His claim to fame is that he has a big stick and he doesn't speak at all. This is one of the easier bosses to take down.
a) You can tell when he is ready to strike because he cocks his arm back to swing. Just move or jump back to avoid being hit.
b) You can crowd him against the stairs. Once you have done that, use a series of low sweeps to finish him off.
c) You can also take him out be doing jump kicks on him but that is a little more tricky since he can get a hit on you if you are not ready.

2) BOOMERANG FIGHTER : This guy likes to hit you coming and going. He throws two boomerangs at Thomas. If Thomas avoids them on the trip out, he may get hit on the return trip.
a) Your first priority is avoiding the boomerangs (of course). Most of the time, he throws the boomerangs mid or high so you can easily duck. Sometimes he will throw some low shots so you have to jump.
b) Once he releases his boomerangs, get up to him and let loose with kicks and punches. Prepare for the boomerangs' return trip and once he catches them, hit him a couple of more times.
c) You should only have to do this cycle a couple of times before the Boomerang Fighter is no more.

3) GIANT : He stands about twice as tall as Thomas. Plus, he packs a mean wallop both in his punch and kick.
a) Although he is built like a tank, he is not very quick. Thomas can get in about three shots to his one. The problem is, when the Giant hits Thomas, a lot of energy loss occurs.
b) Don't even try to go toe-to-toe with the Giant or you will lose. The best attacks are the jump kick and low sweep. You just have to watch out for his kick on the low sweep.
c) This one may take a while since you need to be careful around the Giant.

4) BLACK MAGICIAN : Of course, no Devil's Temple would be complete without the resident Black Magician to annoy you. The Black Magician is one of the stranger bosses you have to deal with. His claim to fame is a couple of things. First, he creates duplicates of himself so you don't know which one is the real Black Magician. Second, he sometimes sends creatures after you such as bats to make your life miserable. Fortunately, the Black Magician is one of the easier bosses to deal with.
a) You need to back him up to the stairs as quickly as possible to limit his movement. If the Black Magician has a lot of room, he can create duplicates which will hurt Thomas.
b) Once you've backed him against the stairs, the only thing that will work on the Black Magician are low punches. When you have him backed against the stairs and are pounding on him, he can't create duplicates or other critters to harass Thomas.

5) MR. X : Well, you've finally made it to Mr. X. This will be a test of all of your Kung-Fu skills. Mr. X is no pushover. In addition, Mr. X regenerates his energy so you have to be quick about taking him down or he will fully regenerate.
a) You will notice that Mr. X has his own series of Kung-Fu moves that could very well do severe damage to Thomas. You will need to use different combos to get through Mr. X's defenses.
b) If he seems to block a particular attack, quickly switch to another. For example, if he blocks a low sweep, change it to a jump kick and you may get a shot in. Also, use your punches after getting his defenses away with kicks.
c) This will be a long battle but if you continue using different attacks, you can take him down.

6) Once Mr. X is beaten, you walk forward to kiss Sylvia. Jump at the last minute and you'll walk a few extra steps and kiss thin air.

* Slow Motion Mode : Turn 'slow motion mode' ON in DIP switch. In game, press 2P START to slow game speed.

* Stop Mode : Turn 'Freeze' ON in DIP switch. In game, press 2P START to stop and 1P START to restart.

* Level Selection Mode : Turn 'Level selection mode' ON in DIP switch. In game, press 1P START to select and 2P START to restart.

* Hint : Time your punches properly. They give you double score compared with the kicks, but they're much more risky, as you can fall short with your punch and get grabbed.

* Defeating the Bosses :
1) STICK FIGHTER : Easy. Wait to his first pole swing from a safe distance and then quickly get close (stuck) to him. From now on, his attacks won't hit you. Walk forward (making him walk back) until you reach the staircases and then start punching him in the belly.
2) BOOMERANG FIGHTER : First, clean your back of henchmen. Then, wait for the Boomerang Fighter to throw his first boomerang, avoid it and this is the time! You have to hit him like hell while he's waiting to recover his boomerang. Punches hurt double. If you're quick enough punching, he won't recover his first boomerang.
3) GIANT : Just make a moving jump kick, hit him in the chest, and as soon you touch the floor (falling down from the jump kick) start punching fast as hell! With any luck he won't touch you anyway. Be sure to have spare energy to perform this movement just in case he has time to give you a kick (1/4 of the bar would be enough).
4) BLACK MAGICIAN : Watch out, this one is tricky. First, take him to the limits where he can walk (He suddenly stops as he can't get closer to you). Then come closer to him and duck, avoiding his projectiles. Then, a copy of him will appear at your back. Stand up and start walking (avoiding projectiles again) just as you did with the Stick Fighter. As soon as you arrive at the stairs, duck and start punching. He will appear and disappear, but JUST in front of you. Six punches and he's history.
5) MR. X : Mainly keep him defending himself with high kicks (tapping very fast!) and then suddenly change to low kicks. Start with a jumping moving kick in the chest (just like the third boss) and then start the high/low kicks patterns.


1. Spartan X (1984, Arcade)
2. Spartan X 2 [Model IF-23] (1991, Famicom)


[JP] Nintendo Famicom (june.21, 1985) "Spartan X [Model HVC-SX]"
[JP] Sega Saturn (apr.26, 1996) "Irem Arcade Classics [Model T-22403G]"
[JP] Sony PlayStation (apr.26, 1996) "Irem Arcade Classics [Model SLPS-00341]"

[JP] Nintendo Game Boy (dec.11, 1990) "Spartan X [Model DMG-SXJ]"

[JP] MSX (1984) "Kung Fu Master" by ASCII Entertainment


Game's ROM.