You know, I wonder about the heady heights of the early 90s when Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat fought it out for the crown of “favourite fighting game” in a time when OH THERE WAS A PUN IN THERE AND I NEARLY MISSED IT. HOW EXTRAORDINARY. I made a pun about fighting games fighting for a crown. That’s hilarious! If only that were actually the case. If only these games hadn’t brought about the wave upon wave of other copycat fighting games, we would never have eventually got the ridiculous piles of crap we ended up having to endure.
Mortal Kombat had a lot to answer for. At least with Street Fighter games, the games were usually so identikit, you could have some sort of fun. MK ripoffs tended to follow the same tired route of digitising every character and then poorly animating the rest of the game.
And then you had this game.
A horrible, mutated, inbred version of the two games.
In fact there are few fighting games that are worse than this and most of them involve clay.
In all seriousness, Eternal Champions is one of the worst fighting games that I have ever played and considering the amount of fighting games I have played in my life, that is a lot to choose from. Now, normally I could come up with a list of superlatives to describe certain games because they feature some aspects and characteristics that are indeed fun and exciting. In this case, I have nothing but superlatives such as WEAKEST, CRAPPEST, FUCKING WORST and ABYSMALEST and that’s not even a word.
Where to fucking start…?
Screw it, let’s go straight for the jugular shall we?
Here’s the major issue with this game: the set-up is fucking spectacular. The execution is fucking awful. In fact, it’s worse than awful. It’s whatever word is considered worse than awful. And that’s why it frustrates me no end.
I mean, listen to the whole concept behind it: essentially, what happens is that all of the characters in the game have all died in some way shape or form in whatever time period they’re from. The Eternal Champion, a MAGICAL character (essentially a god in this game), discovers that the Earth will fall to ruin if these characters are allowed to die in their time periods when they were destined for great things – THINGS THAT WILL SAVE THE WORLD. He can bring back one person and one person only to survive their death and live on to save the world. The rest have to die as they did in their real lives. They’re basically already dead anyway, I’m sure they can handle it. It’s nothing new. Sort of. I suppose they might not have actually DIED yet but they’re about to. They’ll be fine; what are you talking about?
Now, think about that for a second. That is actually a really clever little set-up for a fighting game and goodness alone knows it allows the developers to really raid the history books for loads of time periods to base their character designs from and they kinda did to a point. I mean, the original game only had nine characters so they obviously didn’t trawl through it as much as they could have done but if we’re only getting nine characters, we’re two ahead of Mortal Kombat and we’re one ahead of the original version of Street Fighter 2 minus the bosses. Well done Sega.
So character-wise, we got a real mix of oddball characters that ran from the stone-age (Slash) to the distant future (R.A.X.) visiting Atlantis, the Salem witch trials and the 1920s in between. 2/3 of the cast are post 1900 and three of them are from the future (sort of… Shadow is the PRESENT character but her stage is very Neo-Tokyo so… count it), and the future is sort of cheating. You could have chosen from a greater range of characters from the past and you end up throwing in future characters instead? Was there not enough time to choose from? You went as far back as the stone age and you’re saying picking nine characters from a time period of over 52,000 years is TOO HARD? And even 2/3 of those are from the last 100 years or so and the rest of history was TOO HARD?
THE FUCKING TUDORS???? Literally, if you’re Henry VIII TUDOR JOKE FOR THE WIN.
Here’s your cast. They look OK. I appreciate their designs. They did at least try to make them look quite interesting. You have Circus Girl, Cat Burglar, Cyberman, Trad Vamp, Stompy Club Man, Merman, Stereotypical Black Man Wearing Shades Because Of Course, Stereotypical Ninja Assassin Because Of Course, and Wizard Not-A-Wizard. I’m not gonna lie, there are two of these that are so obviously stereotypical that they’re borderline offensive, but game design was lacking a bit more in those days and you’d actually be lucky to see ethnic characters or non-stereotypical characters in any games. If anything, games like Street Fighter sort of set in stereotypical character design in the games that tried to copy it. There must be a ridiculously quick female character, there must be a black character potentially-wearing-shades, and a character that sort of looks a bit beastly/feral. There’s no burly Russian but instead we get Jetta who is pretty much the Anti-Zangief.
It’s not as though they’re BAD character designs because they’re really not. They’re probably some of the better character designs out there. There’s a lot more flair to these than most other games of their ilk. That’s what makes this game even more awful: the fact they could take this set of really quite interesting characters with really interesting back stories and right royally FUCK THE WHOLE THING UP. How?
Oh my word, this game is one vicious mess after another. If you play it, it’s easy to see how this game is awful. Now, having taken those characters and really spit-shined them to oblivion, how is it possible to make them look as awful as they do. How did they manage it? The whole thing is so amazingly lacklustre, it is actually quite impressive how weak they actually made it. I remember adverts for this game suggesting that other games were inferior by saying Street Fighter 2 was your training wheels and that this game is better than any mortal could imagine HA HA HA HA HA OH YOU ADVERTISERS WITH YOUR WIT AND PUBLICITY BULLSHIT. Yeah. here’s why you had to prepare for this game: because this game is harder than stone. It’s harder than diamond. IT IS SO HARD YOU WILL THROW THE CONTROLLER IN RAGE BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SHIT AT GAMING.
You are not shit.
This game is shit.
For want of a better quibble, this game is seriously unfair because it controls incredibly poorly. It’s not unresponsive. It’s just very loose and poorly executed. The actual control scheme is incredibly shaky but it’s difficult to explain whether it’s closer to Mortal Kombat’s forward forward stuff or Street Fighter’s fireball motion stuff. It feels really bitty to perform special moves and the whole system is immensely unsatisfying. The easiest way to defeat opponent is actually less with special moves and more with just twatting your opponent as much as possible with button mashing. The opponent is so good at blocking that you could throw everything including the kitchen sink, at them and they’d block the hell out it and then smash your face in with an attack more powerful than you have. It is disastrously unfair to you but hey, if you used Street Fighter 2 as your training wheels, you’d be FINE! Because that game basically prepares you for all things and all other fighting games ever! BECAUSE THIS IS A STREET FIGHTER CLONE. CLEARLY. ONLY NOT.
False advertising aside, the name included because this will never be played eternally and neither will you be a champion at it because it is ridiculously hard and UNFAIR, BASTARDS,
The fact the game plays SO poorly is what makes it awful. There are plenty of other things though. For one, did you notice the life bars? What’s missing? As boring as the whole concepts are, something akin to the first MK, there are no names. How do you whose is whose? You don’t. You’re expected to know. You’re playing the game so you figure it out. What’s that little icon next to the life bar? I dunno. You’re the one playing the game, you figure it out (essentially it works like the power meters in Art of Fighting. The more complete the Yin Yang symbol, the more powerful the attacks are likely to be).
So as well as trying to best Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, we’re aiming to outdo SNK games too? Instead, this is what it does to itself.
No comparisons to Mortal Kombat here then? Actually there are only these stage-based fatalities (OVERKILLS as they call them because of course you can’t call them fatalities), and they’re not particularly bloody at all. They range from this electrocution to being chomped by a dinosaur to being swallowed up by the ground. You have to hit a character so that they fall into a specific part of the stage for this to happen so occasionally it’s just random… but killing off the characters when the whole point was that they would die ANYWAY kinda… defeats the point…?
And then they went absolutely fucking CRAZY with the Mega CD sequel where everyone killed each other in ways that could be considered gorier than any of the 16-bit Mortal Kombats. Almost DISTURBINGLY so. It got an 18 ELSPA rating. No wonder. Honestly. Google that stuff. It’s fucking horrific for the sake of being horrific. It’s a sure sign that they didn’t have much else going for it so they ramped up the gore tenfold. Anyway. That’s a different game. It also sucks but it’s a different game. At least they remembered the character names on the health bars.
Yeah. Look… to be honest, gaming and games are personal choice and opinion and I’ve NEVER been taken by this game. When I have been, it’s purely based on the characters and the story but I can’t be doing with what this game does with them both: WASTE THEM. It’s criminal that these brilliant concepts are fucked up so badly that it makes the game unplayable and monumentally unenjoyable. It’s both ugly and uninspired to look at. The animation is REASONABLE at time but the sprites themselves look pretty unrefined and the backgrounds lack any kind of spark. There’s very little going on in any of them. I mean, whoop-de-doo, water ripples in the Atlantis stage but by the time you get to see it, the rest of the game dragged me into a realm of sadness and frustration that I’ve never felt with a game before.
And before you ask, yes I did complete it eventually. It was an absolute travesty and waste of my time and I feel annoyed that I wasted my time on something that could essentially have been AMAZING and yet wasn’t. And it really, really, REALLY wasn’t.
Now I’m off to play Clayfighter to cleanse myself.
FUCKING CLAY FUCKING FIGHTER.
I SAY NO MORE.