Earlier this month we shared What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls, from 1966. Despite coming almost twenty-five years later, this 1990 board game, Careers Game: For Girls isn’t much of an improvement. Players can choose from the careers of fashion designer, animal doctor, rock star, school teacher, or “super mom.” College is at least an option in this game, but you earn points for dating an upper class man. If you draw a liberal arts degree card for your major, you’re prepared to be a super mom.
I’m a big fan of the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. I’ve played every Dynasty Warriors game since the second, dabbled in a number of Romance of the Three Kingdoms titles, and even have the Three Kingdoms book (two different versions) that I’ve read a few times. So, when I say I was excited to get to Warriors of Fate (which was Capcom’s 1992 follow-up to Dynasty Wars. their 1989 side-scrolling horseback beat-em-up set in the same era), you can believe it..
Sadly, this game did not live up to my hopes and dreams. Right off the bat, I could see that the non-Asia versions of the game had the names and stories changed, while the Asia versions were all in kanji, which I can’t read. Wikipedia says this game covers the lesser Battle of Bowang and the (very important) battles of Chang Ban and Chi Bi, but I wouldn’t know that from the game, because the English versions of the game have the story changed to some generic conflict using made-up names. I can’t even tell which famous general or warrior I’m fighting against as a boss without using an online source.
Story gripes aside, there’s still the actual game to consider. This seemed promising because at first glance, Warriors of Fate looks like quite similar to Knights of the Round, a game I love. There are major changes here, some good, mostly bad. You have five characters to choose from, and they do in fact play differently, each with their own default weapons and even varying grapple-style holds. Sadly, they also all feel sluggish; enemies will easily surround you and pick you apart much more easily than in most of Capcom’s other beat-em-ups. It’s especially sad because these are fighters of mythical capability: Guan Yu, still revered today as a god of war; Zhang Fei, who was so feared he scared back a million enemy troops just by shouting at them; Zhao Yun, so valued by Liu Bei that the latter threw his own infant son to the ground for endangering Zhao Yun’s life when he heroically rescued the baby from behind enemy lines. And so on. These are not men to be taken out by a handful of bandits and archers–and yet, that’s exactly what happened to me, a surprising amount of times. Although there’s a lot of palette swapping, you’ll only face about half a dozen types of minions.
I enjoyed how, unlike Knights of the Round, the game provides several additional period-appropriate weapons your character can pick up along the way and use (in the same use-it-till-you-get-hit style of Final Fight): swords, maces, axes and even a warhammer. Unfortunately, most of these weapons don’t do all that much damage, and only one, the katana, can score more than a single hit before an enemy is knocked back out of reach. This slows down combat, and that’s an especially large problem during boss fights, which are not only given a short timer but also loaded with infinitely respawning minions. More than once the danger of running out of time against a boss was greater than being killed by the boss itself–that is, until I had to fight more recklessly to try and take the boss down with my remaining few seconds.
Warriors of Fate isn’t a bad game all on its own. But stacked up against the dozen or so other beat-em-ups Capcom put out (including its own predecessor), as well as against the numerous games paying homage to the Three Kingdoms era, it just doesn’t hold up
So, total score at the local thrift store the other day. When I was seven years old, I thought 3D Dinosaur Adventure was just about the coolest thing since slap bracelets. On a Monday more than 20 years later, I stumbled across the game complete with 3D glasses in its original 1994 packaging for 5 bucks. I won’t pretend that 3D Dinosaur Adventure has aged well; the graphics so mind-blowing at when I was a kid now feel more like a 2nd grade science fair diorama, but boy does it take me back. And the movies, described on the box as “bone-chilling, heart-stopping, head-spinning eye-popping movies in full color, high-resolution video” are actually still pretty great. The definition of “high resolution” has definitely shifted by a few orders of magnitude since 1994, but the classic stop-motion dinosaurs are still a treat to watch. My favorite part is still the video segment in fledgeling CG where the T. rex comes to life from still bones. Yes, the game is old and silly, but some of the original magic remains intact.