One guess for last week and it was from Hoffman… but, dude. Shaq Fu? WRONG! I even gave it away when I talked about my plans. But, I might get into Shaq Fu sometime down the road.
This week’s Flashback Friday is an old school SNES and Genesis fighter called WeaponLord. This game, made by Namco, was a very ambitious fighter for it’s time. Let’s start with the story..
On a battlefield strewn with bodies, a dying mercenary gets taken over by an evil spirit. This allows him to be reborn and able to defeat the current war king. Thus begins the reign of the Demon Lord Raith. At the height of his power, a shaman gave him a very dire warning:
“When the night turns violent and the moon bleeds, gripped by the skeletal fingers of death…a child will rise to face the demon in combat…and the lord of demons will fall by the hand of…the Weapon Lord!”
Ignoring the advice of his lieutenants, he wants to fight his planned killer fairly: one on one. 25 years later, sensing that it’s time, the Demon Lord (now named Zarak) holds a tournament to decide who will fight him. He will fight and kill the Weapon Lord before the prophecy can be fulfilled.
In a way, the game and the way it looks reminds one of Conan the Barbarian. That’s part of the appeal here of this game.
Another great example is the game play elements added in. This game introduced parries to the genre, a technique most known for being a Street Fighter III. It had FIVE different types of parrying alone. There’s also some other techniques here, like buffering (something that is more seen in the Tekken series), double over stuns, guard breaking, weapon breaking and, yes, finishers.
The difference here is that only one character (Zarak) has his own finisher. Everyone shares from a pool of finishers… because the special moves are your finishers! Part of the beauty here is that you can combine finishers to create one long combo of death. For example, you can gut the opponent, then decapitate them, then slice their skull open to expose their brain, then rip them open like a stuck pig. Yeah… it’s gruesome, but it fits the aesthetic so well.
Another weird thing about this game was the move list. Traditionally, you would do the motion and press the button. Here, most moves were hold the button, do the motion then release the button. Only one other fighter did this and that was Primal Rage. You may ask yourself ‘Why?’… well, this game was planned to be the first online fighting game ever made.
You see, back in the day there was the Xband, which allowed you to play online with your SNES and Genesis games. Yeah, it was dial-up, but that was the idea. Not only was this game built from the ground up as a home console game, but it had ambition. In a day and age where games have become very cookie cutter like, something like this was is a breath of fresh air.
That is all for this week’s edition. Next week… we look at one of the biggest names to grace the Neo Geo.