The PlayStation Vita is set to launch this week, and the Wii U is expected to be released sometime this year. The excitement of video game launches have me feeling a bit nostalgic. I mean they are such rare events, that usually you are in a different place in your life with all of them. I’ve been through most of my formal education, I’ve lost loved ones and had new ones enter my life.
But it also makes me think of the many games that have come and gone. There’s something wholly unique about a new console that allows developers to be a bit riskier and go out on a limb. Sometimes you fall flat on your face and other times you find a new hit.
One such title was War Gods, which I’m not ashamed to admit was the first game I got with my Nintendo 64. I should say was given with my Nintendo 64 as my older brother decided to return the favor for borrowing the family’s SNES indefinitely.
War Gods has a fairly interesting history, although I didn’t know it at the time. It was a game released by Midway as a test run for their then in development, Mortal Kombat 4. I think that’s actually a fairly novel idea. I mean as game development gets more costly and more timely, I think it would be nice if developers used their in process engine design to experiment with different types of titles. I mean imagine if Nintendo took one of the mini-games in a Zelda title and turned it into a downloadable title with a bit more content? Or if THQ took one of the many Saints Row sidequests and put them up on XBLA and PSN.
But that aside, the game does suffer from being a test game. The idea of taking a portion of a game and kind of padding it out for cheaper makes sense. The execution here is essentially making a clone of your own game. This is Mortal Kombat with a different set of zany characters.
I’m sorry for the quality of the screenshot, but there doesn’t exist many pictures of this game on the web. If you can’t make it out, at first glance it looks like we have a rip-off of Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Kano and Sheeva. The rest of the roster is filled out by more I guess mythological beings, you have what looks like an Anubis, a tribal statue, two shamans (?) and I can only imagine a tribal leader. There really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the characters in this universe. That’s not to say that Mortal Kombat characters all look like they belong at first glance. The bigger issue is that it has a pretty thin roster of characters, but I guess also somewhat excusable for a first title.
Goofy characters can be overcome (I mean a LOT of popular games have silly characters in hindsight), but where this game kind of falls apart is in the game play. Sadly, it wouldn’t be something they fixed in time for Mortal Kombat 4 either (though Deadly Alliance was awesome!). The game (and I’m going off over a decade of memories here) was played in a “3D arena” these were the early days of 3D in gaming so for the most part it was usually just a giant circle. The game always kind of worked on a 2D plane (you move left and right), but you could change the axis/degrees on which would fight, but would still function pretty much like a 2D game.
The game itself was pretty much what you would expect from a 2D Mortal Kombat. Blood would spill out of your opponents as you hit them, and once you finished them off… you did FATALIES! Yeah, they didn’t even try to hide the fact that they were aping Mortal Kombat, again it is their game/engine, but you would try and be creative. Especially being that this dealt with gods (says it in the name) something like Divine Judgment or something would have been cool.
Anyhow, while it sounds decent on paper, it was rough around the edges. The controls and characters were just sluggish at times, and the game wasn’t that pretty. But its really hard to judge (its been a long time).
Even with all of that said, I had a ton of fun with War Gods. Partially because for a time, it was the only game I had for my Nintendo 64. Partially because I was a kid, I didn’t know any better! I mean that’s not to say I was a stupid kid, but your taste and style grows and develop as you do, and as you play more games. Up until this point, I hadn’t really played many fighting games. And it was still the emergence of 3D, not a lot of people got it back then so there was a bit of intrigue surrounding all of these projects.
However, as you can tell from the numerous War Gods sequels, the game didn’t do too hot. It would be an interesting concept to revisit, but it seems like concepts can only go so far if the game doesn’t sell well.
Thank you for joining me on this random trip down memory lane.