Daikatana N64

Review by Ambient Malice

John Romero: "The N64 version of Daikatana was abysmal. 'Nuff said."

I approached Daikatana N64 with an open mind. I'd played the original PC version, and still consider the hatred unwarranted. Daikatana is an ambitious game with some problems of execution. It's by no means terrible.

My initial impression was that everyone had lied to me. The port had issues, sure. It had horrific spelling mistakes, sure. It had the voice acting and sidekick NPCs removed, sure. But the port is actually a bit less buggy in some areas, and you don't have to constantly protect less than competent AI sidekicks. Even the music is pretty decent. I mean, sure it's repetitive and loopy, but the music in Greece in particular is very atmospheric. I'd have to say the music is one of the more redeeming aspects of the port.

The controls are the most unintuitive I have ever encountered. Instead of mimicking other, better, N64 games, the port team decided that "hold A, press R" was the ideal button combination for crouching. And you crouch a lot in this game.

But it's not just AI controlled allies who were ommitted from this port. One of the most notorious bits of trivia about Daikatana N64 is that the... Daikatana isn't in the game. The title weapon, which is usable in the PC original, is missing from the N64 port. Why? The only reason I can think of is the problem of memory limitations combined with an incompetent port team. But it's a bizarre omission. And it gets worse - the Greece level features a boss battle with Cerberus, or a 3 headed dog who looks a lot like Cerberus. I wouldn't know, because after giving us a few panning shots of the scary boss, the game immediately skips to the next section of the level. It's not as if anyone's going to notice if you skip over a dramatically presented boss, right?

I think the problem with Daikatana N64 is that the original game toed such a fine line. There is just enough redeeming value in it to keep it from being a truly bad game. But the N64 port goes and tears out large chunks of the production values and coherency of the game. On one hand, this leads to an initial spike of fun - the game is less difficult than the PC version for various reasons. But the more you play, the less fun Daikatana N64 seems. It eats away at you, until you're wandering around wondering why the hell you're putting up with this game. It sucks the fun out of life.

Daikatana N64 is a game which seems fun initially. But don't be fooled - it is a terrible, terrible game which will possibly harm you permanently. The game has a PAL version which is even worse, if such a thing were possible. If you're curious about Daikatana, play the PC version with patches. There's even a Game Boy Color version floating around on the internet which is a better game. Don't subject yourself to this travesty. I'm serious. The only reason I give this game 4 out of 10 is because the original game is still solid - even if it's been mutilated by the port team.

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