John Romero and Ion Storm’s FPS Daikatana were released 20 years ago and it’s considered one of the biggest failures in video game history. Today, we remember his famous advertisement warning us that “John Romero will make you his whore,” the delay and bad review. Maybe we also remember the controversy surrounding the Ion Storm itself.
We remember the myth, but we don’t remember Daikatana. While Ion Storm is expected to sell more than 2 million copies, Daikatana is a game that is actually played by several people. For the 20th anniversary, it’s time to see what Daikatana has to offer now, beyond legend and prejudice.
In Daikatana, three characters travel through time thanks to (and because of) the power of the magic sword, and they struggle to stop the evil corporation. The game has 24 levels divided into four episodes arranged in different ages: Tokyo cyberpunk, Ancient Greek myths inspired by the films of Ray Harryhausen, European Medieval zombies and San Francisco in 2030. Each era surprised players with their own environment, soundtracks, enemies and weapons, and almost every weapon (a total of 25) try to do something different with the ingenuity that was more common at the time but is usually lost now. Not all are equally brilliant, but from the energy ball bouncing to the devil’s summoning staff, from the silver melee claws that are designed to kill Medieval werewolves to sci-fi freezing weapons, there are many variations and peculiarities that carry over to the multiplayer. This is an amazing experience that sometimes feels like four different games collected together.
Playing Daikatana now means finding forgotten relics from the probationary and transitional period at the end of the previous millennium. Visually, it is reminiscent of American comic books of the 90s that were influenced by Japanese manga. Like the FPS of the 90s, it blends enemies with scan-hit direct attacks and enemies who fire avoidable projectiles. It’s panic, especially in multi-player mode, and it’s full of secrets that ask you to understand its level as interconnected space. But it also has a cutscene scene, mission and objectives, and its level design is less abstract (and less gameplay-driven) than Doom and Quake. In addition, he tries to innovate genres that add RPG elements and, above all, sidekicks, two AI friends who follow players during part of their adventure and fight on their side.
Sidekicks are one of the most advertised Daikatana features and become the most criticized game element, because they are often trapped in the environment and they desperately throw themselves to death. Because their defeat means the instant game is over (and up to 1.1 Daikatana patches have limited rescue), most players must guard them carefully and drag them alive to the end of each level. As Romero explained, intimate friends are designed to be a burden, and while the tragic execution is flawed and buggy, the concept is (and still is) brave: creating friends who are not just game tools but digital people with their needs. Sidekicks need medikit, armor, weapons and ammunition and they are given the code to act, run, crawl, climb and jump like human players do: the fake lives that we must live together.
But the technology does not yet exist.
Daikatana is the most obvious sign of the difference between id Software driven by technology and Ion Storm that focuses on design, and while its idealistic vision (“Design is the Law” is the Ion Storm creed) gives life to Deus Ex, it doesn’t work well with Daikatana, who looks like a child who has grown their clothes, the Quake 2 machine.
“Back in 2000 [Daikatana] push the limits [what] the Quake 2 engine is capable and the programmer’s knowledge “told us Frank Sapone’s Daikatana modder via email. Sapone played Daikatana when it was launched and he” loved it, “so many years later he began modifying it to solve some known bugs and crashes.” After As things were resolved I became excited to fix as many bugs as I could to make it more pleasing to a wider audience, “he said, and then he continued to work on a large homebrew patch with other modder. Patches made Daikatana run on Mac and Linux , it makes the sidekick invincible on easy difficulties, improves their health, improves their AI and allows us to disable it completely, plus it adds support for widescreen resolution and increases online multiplayer.
Thanks to this modder, Daikatana is a game that really can be played now. But, it must be admitted, the first impact is still terrible. The opening cutcene was boring, accidentally ludicrous and lasted for ten minutes. This is followed by the worst episodes of the game, and I worry that many players become discouraged and never complete the initial area filled with unavoidable damage and small green enemies that you cannot distinguish in a green and brown environment. It is difficult and there are many frustrating trials and errors. So, just use the cheat code and skip to the second episode: it’s probably the best part of Daikatana and it takes us to a truly imaginable and unhistorical Ancient Athens with a large level, back off and throw a disk that bounces off the wall before flying back to us Stylish xena.
“Multiplayer […] maybe even more underrated “tell us u / dama__, moderator for Daikatana subreddit. “It’s not balanced with Quake 3 because many weapons attract the attention of a single player. […] It’s also more difficult to make a comeback compared to other arena FPS because you get experience points when you break down someone, leaving other players in a disadvantage. But it was very fun. The movements are like Quake 3 with more air control, and as you increase your speed, you can really zoom in on the map. “
Daikatana is a failed experiment, but with new patches you can really enjoy what’s left of your ambitious vision and, even though it’s not an underestimated gem or something like that, it has a lot to offer. You can buy it at Steam and GOG and You can find 1.3 patches here (At the moment, I recommend using a more stable 32-bit version). If you want to play multiplayer, you can find opponents on a dedicated Steam community or take a few friends and try the campaign in cage mode.
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