Daikatana (Game Boy Color)

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Daikatana

Daikatana - GBC - Europe.jpg

Game Boy Color - Europe - 1st edition.

Developer Will
Publisher Kemco
Published 2000-09-29
Platforms Game Boy Color
Genres Action, Adventure
Themes Action, Adventure, Martial Arts, Time Travel
Series Daikatana

Daikatana is an action adventure video game developed by Will and published by Kotobuki System for the Game Boy Color on 2000-09-29. At the time, it was common for publishers releasing major 3D titles to hire a third party developer to create a 2D port of their game for a handheld system, so Eidos commissioned this game as the hand held port of the original Daikatana. However, because the original was so poorly received in the USA, its publication was canceled despite it being complete and fully translated. Thankfully, it was still released in Europe and as a magazine exclusive in Japan.

Although the mechanics of the game are completely different from the original title, the story is essentially the same. You play as Hiro Miyamoto, current leader of the Miyamoto clan, whose ancestor discovered a cure for a deadly plague. However, Kage Mishima, enemy of the Miyamoto clan, has stolen the Daikatana, a magical sword which allows its wielder to bend the fabric of time and change reality. With it, Mishima travels back in time to claim the cure as his own and also kidnap Hiro's friend Mikiko. Hiro attempts to rescue Mikiko and stop Kage, but finds himself lost in time.

Personal

Own?No.
Won?Yes. European version, rank D. Needed one hint.
Finished2023-07-09.

Although I never played the original Daikatana, I was aware it was seen as a joke in the video game community for being a colossal failure, so I had no interest in playing it. I remember seeing John Romero giving away a ROM of the GBC port on his web site and thinking it must be awful. However, I later heard several good things about the GBC port, so, when I was trying to expand my familiarity with the platform, I decided to play it. I found it to be a rather charming, but flawed, action adventure. I beat the European version with a rank of D. I needed one hint for the four-dragon puzzle in the last section.

Review

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5 4 4 5 4

Best Version: Game Boy Color

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The game is an enjoyable action adventure. Had it been released on the NES, it probably would have been quite successful.
  • The story, although quite silly and trope-heavy, still works.
  • The character movement controls are fluid and responsive.
  • The graphic art has a nice cartoonish feel which is very reminiscent of similar games.
  • The music composed by Hideki Sakamoto, though not especially memorable, is fitting for the game.
  • There are a variety of simple puzzles throughout the game which add an appreciated cerebral element to all the hack and slash.
  • This is one of the very few games which features a playable woman and person of color.

Bad

  • Combat isn't very satisfying for several reasons:
    • Being touched by an enemy hurts you, enemies move very quickly, and your invulnerability timeout is very short. Because of this, enemies can very quickly drain your energy, so you have to be constantly running from them, which isn't very heroic.
    • Because enemies move so quickly and in such a small screens, it's difficult to avoid them, but...
    • You want to avoid enemies because they never drop anything, and you don't gain experience for killing them. The only thing you get from killing them is a less-dangerous path if you need to backtrack, but...
    • Enemies only stay dead as long as you don't leave the nearby area. Entering a door, going down stairs, or moving to another area causes all the enemies to respawn, which punishes you for exploring. I prefer an approach where the last 10 or so screens you've visited maintain their enemy count so, if you clear them, they remain empty for a while.
    • When you hit an enemy with a ranged attack, they do not experience knock-back. While this does give melee weapons an advantage, encouraging you to use them, it also makes it much harder to use ranged weapons on rapidly-approaching monsters, especially the weaker weapons which take so many hits the enemies will reach you before you can kill them. I found that I was better off just using melee weapons for the bulk of the game, but this made it a bit boring.
  • Having search, activate, attack, and clear dialog all use the same button was a bad idea. It's never clear what can actually be searched or activated, and, if nothing in front of you can, you default to attacking which wastes ammo if you have a ranged weapon equipped. So, if you don't want to drain your ammo, you'll have to switch back to a melee weapon each time you want to search or activate something. A way to more easily handle this would be to not attack when directly facing a solid wall, or, have a menu where you select a melee and ranged weapon, then use select to easily toggle between then. Also, since dialogs are cleared with the attack button, you will very frequently close dialogs accidentally before reading them. This could have been fixed by closing dialogs with the jump button only, (which you're less likely to press when triggering a dialog) or adding a slight delay before allowing the dialog to be closed.
  • The game lets you save in every room which makes it very hard not to take advantage of save scumming, but, doing so slows down the game because of the slow title screen introduction.
  • The game's story is entirely scripted with nothing optional outside of when to collect items. Also, you frequently acquire plot items before you need to use them, so the story unfolds without much effort on your behalf. For a large part of the game, I felt like I was going along for the ride rather than making decisions or solving problems.

Ugly

  • I found the ending to be quite the downer. The "twist" was totally out of the blue, what happens to your friends is awful, and, unless I'm misinterpreting it, the parallel universe only serves to remind you that everything you just went through was meaningless.

Media

Box Art

The game uses the same dull box art as the original; however, as John Romero had no input on this version, his name on the box is misleading.

Screenshots

Videos

Longplay.

Representation

Strong female character?FailAlthough Mikiko Ebihara is briefly playable, she's mostly a damsel in distress.
Bechdel test?FailWomen never talk to each other.
Strong person of color character?FailAlthough Superfly Johnson is briefly playable, he doesn't really do much in the game.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English John Romero's Daikatana
Japanese 大刀 Daito Long Sword

Links

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