The historical tour of many studios always makes us wish for the return of their…
Those were other times when id Software created Doom, one of the most influential shooters in history, and what was seen in the industry were true projects of passion. Years later, in 2000, one of his parents took out what would become one of the titles most controversial in history from the video game: Daikatana, by John Romero. The game, which was promoted as the second coming of Christ, ended up being the downfall of this designer.
22 years later, speaking to my boss, a small idea popped into my head: is this game, universally known as one of the the worst in historyreally that bad? With curiosity as a weapon and a great desire to take a time machine, I decided that I wanted to write about the game that everyone hated at the beginning of the millennium, but for that I had to give it to me. That’s where my journey began, that’s where my nightmare began.
First of all, I have to say that I am fascinated by retro video games. Old and often imperfect titles give me a sense of love and warmth. Today, everything is measured, calculated and designed when creating a video game, but retro is full of small mistakes or missteps that, more than transmitting negativity, is something that inspires charm, even tenderness. With that idyllic idea ahead, full of positivity and hope, I got down to work, and what I found was something I was not prepared for.
Daikatana: a 90s disaster in its purest form
Daikatana puts you in the shoes of Hiro, a samurai from the future who is tasked with traveling through time to retrieve the legendary Daikatana, an all-powerful sword that is being used by a villain to change history and take over the world. With this in hand, our protagonist dedicates himself to time travel in order to solve this mystery, save the world and make sure that no one else can abuse the powers of this mighty sword again. As you can see, it’s all very late ’90s, and I think that has a particular charm. I like this kind of cutrona nineties moves: Killer Tomatoes, Killer Clowns from Outer Space, Chucky… So why is this a nightmare?
You see, when Daikatana came out, they dropped sticks everywhere. Ignoring its plot, which some took more seriously than others, some of the most prevailing critics took issue with its graphics, which were already somewhat dated when the title was released; its map design, which didn’t seem to measure up to Quake; and his enemies, who had a disastrous AI. yes to this we add bugs, the package they found in 2000 was, frankly, disastrous. I, deluded myself, thought “Well, even with patches it has improved”, and I even came to the point that the expectations were simply too high for one of the designers of the moment. Oh, I wish I had listened to my colleagues from two decades ago.
Daikatana’s business card is almost unbearable
The first level of the game, frankly, is a pretty good taste of things to come. Uglier than a fridge from behind, corridor, but still confusing, and with hordes and hordes of enemies as noisy as annoying (but uninteresting), Daikatana’s business card is almost unbearable. As I played and progressed through the 4 episodes of the game (traveling back in time and encountering a variety of environments and better level design, I must say), I realized that all was not lost, because he had also found a couple of interesting elements. Could this save me from the experience before me?
The potential of a game that never got off the ground
And it is that John Romero’s FPS has a quite interesting progression system for your character, especially for the time. It’s not a skill tree like we’re used to now, but a few stats you can get better as you kill your opponents. This means that you can, in effect, make your own build within the game and adapt its gameplay to your style. If we add to this some weapons that, without being revolutionary, have some other interesting point and vary a lot as you travel through the different eras, Daikatana could have been a good shooter. Could.
Making my way through mosquitoes, robots, turrets, spiders, centurions, rats, knights, valkyries, wizards, monkeys, assassins… the game surprised and even saddened me with the huge number of enemies it had. On the one hand, I did not expect tremendous variety, of opponents. It is a game that overflows imagination on all four sides. Ambitious beyond power in its approach, but also clumsy like few titles I have come across. See that all these enemies have the personality and intelligence of a stone It makes me think that greed broke the sack, and I think this is something that can be applied to his whole being.
Daikatana has literally everything, but he lacks head
With 24 levels and a wide variety of environments (ranging from Ancient Greece to the year 2030, even going as far as Middle Ages Norway), it’s clear that Romero had a huge project on his hands and it was too much for the developer. . Daikatana has literally everything: time travel, 25 weapons, dozens of different opponents, companions (with a more than questionable artificial intelligence), statistical improvements, narrative emphasis, cinematics… It’s like my first steps cooking: a billion spices and ingredients, but it lacks head. Trying it 22 years after its release has made me almost lose my mind and rethink my love for the imperfect.
The reasons for the disaster
But why is this title so, so disastrous? In the 90s, John Romero was considered something like King Midas of video games: Everything this man touched automatically turned to gold. After leaving id Software, his first project had expectations through the roof, and this, combined with his ambitious vision and technical problems, ended with a development limited by force, delayed several times and full of names that were coming in and out of the company. Frankly, the impressive thing about Daikatana is that came into existence. As if all this were not enough, its delay made it premiere the same year as the legendary Deus Ex, something that only made it more evident.
Even with all this, which is not little, John Romero said that the development of Daikatana was much more fun than that of Quake. I don’t know, although I have suffered to finish this damn game, that seems to me an interesting fact. We often focus too much on our experience with games, and I think it never hurts to know the point of view of those who created them. On the other hand, outside the point of view of its creator, the complicated development of the game sure left a taste in the mouth. more than bitter to more than one of those involved.
Despite having several interesting ones in hand, the experience of playing Daikatana was terrible. The title also has a frankly *text muted*ish difficulty from the zero minute, which is driven not by its design, but by its shortcomings. I found it quite interesting to be able to try this piece of video game history, but just because it’s legendary doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable. If you are as brave as I am and, after reading this, want to dive into this chaos in first person, I highly recommend you to use patch 1.3, which makes it a little more bearable and modernizes some of its aspects. Good luck, samurai friend, I hope your willpower endures.