Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi (PS1)

Intense 3D Fighting in That Galaxy Far, Far Away

Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.
Many Bothans died to bring us this awesome art by @shaferbrown.

Star Wars games have a long history of being “hit or miss.” When they hit, we’ve gotten some instant classics as a result; like Super Star Wars on the SNES, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader on the Gamecube, or the Star Wars Trilogy Arcade cabinet. My personal favorite might actually be the simply titled Star Wars released for the NES in 1991 — the one that played like an open world game where you could choose to steal the Millennium Falcon without ever even meeting Obi Wan or Han Solo, if you so pleased.

But for every hit, there is a miss: Flight of the Falcon, Rebel Assault, Kinect Star Wars — the list goes on. But perhaps none are quite as infamous as 1997’s Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi. In concept, a Star Wars fighting game seemed like it would be hard to go wrong. In fact, a quote from a preview featured in issue 12 of Star Wars Galaxy magazine went so far as to claim that it would “be hard to go wrong.”[1] Clearly, the interviewee responsible for that quote was not gifted with Force Vision.Masters of Teräs Käsi would be almost universally panned on release, stacked up against such tough competition as Tekken 3 and Street Fighter III. But with that in mind, was it simply a matter of unfair comparison? Is Masters of Teräs Käsi actually an alright game, overshadowed by some of its stand-out peers?

In this article, we’ll be travelling back a not-so long time ago, and not particularly far away either; to examine the rise and fall of the first Star Wars fighting game.** We’ll attempt to make sense of its development, battle our way through the game itself, and measure the impact the release had on both the games industry and the Star Wars franchise itself. Are there any other Star Wars references I should get out of the way up front? Oh! I’ll try “I have a bad feeling about this.” That’s a good quote.

** If you’re willing to dig super deep / count a technicality, this maybe isn’t entirely true? 1997’s Star Warped – a Star Wars parody game fittingly published by “Parroty Interactive” – featured a variety of minigames and activities for players to partake in. Among these was a game titled “Flawed Fighters,” which gave you a choice between three characters (“Leia I. Joe,” “Cool Handless Luke,” and “Pizza Flippin Greedo”) and allowed you to battle it out against an AI. But honestly, this is such an obscure little curio that can only tangentially be called a “Star Wars game,” and so we’re just gonna go ahead and disregard this. Also, it sucked.

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Bad Game Music #008

When We Used to Think of Mario, We Thought Of… Pizza!

Having missed last month’s batch of uploads to the Bad Game Hall of Fame YouTube channel, I decided to go “all out” for this September’s inductees. This grouping is headlined by our first first full album upload: Kid Stuff Records’ 1983 release, “Donkey Kong (Goes Home),” officially licensed from Nintendo and intended as something like a supplement to the 1981 Donkey Kong arcade game. As an added bonus, I’ve done the work of attempting to restore the record quote stickers for both sides of the vinyl (Side A, Side B).

As if 20 minutes of uninterrupted 80’s kitsch wasn’t enough for one month, there are two additional uploads featuring music from Sonic Eraser and Manx TT Super Bike. Here’s hoping to return to a regularly scheduled upload schedule in the coming months.

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Haunted Castle (ARC)

Re-Vamp an Old Game with This New Kit

What a horrible night to have a curse.
Haunted art by @AgentAnnK.

In a previous article covering Castlevania: The Adventure, I mourned the assassination of Castlevania by the cowards Konami. As mentioned, Castlevania is one of my favorite game franchises, and my history with it goes as far back as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System days. So, you can imagine that I was both surprised and excited at the announcement of the animated series set to debut on Netflix. And with its release, I was even more pleasantly surprised to find that it was good!

But we’re not about “good” games-related properties on this website: In the words of a wise bobcat, “We’re the Bad Game Hall of Fame, fur cryin’ out loud!” So, if I wanna talk about Castlevania on this site, it’s gonna have to be in the context of a bad video game. And like with most all long-running franchises, they can’t all be winners.

In 1988, Konami opened the doors to their Haunted Castle. It may not carry the Castlevania name,** but it certainly carries on its trademarks and traditions. It also carries with it the burden of trying to bring the classic Castlevania experience to the arcades — an idea which, if you think about it, actually doesn’t seem like all that much a stretch for the notoriously unforgiving series. And yet, more than a few things still managed to get lost in the translation. We’ll get into the what, the where, and hopefully some of the whys as to why Haunted Castle might very well be one of the worst Castlevania games. Also, I’ll give my theory as to why they didn’t even dare call the game Castlevania in the states.

** The game does carry the original Akumajo Dracula branding in Japan, keeping it in line with the rest of the franchise.

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Indigo Prophecy (Xbox / PS2 / PC)

Tell Me, What Is Your Cage Like?

You were simply at the wrong place, at the wrong time…
Prophetic art by @ehetja.

Things are never quite what they seem. We think we understand the games industry around us, but we really only see the outside. What it seems to be. I used to be just like you: I believed in developers, games magazines, television commercials, rumor mills and strategy guides. One day, a game kicks you in the teeth and you don’t have any choice but to see things the way they really are.

My name is Cassidy. My story is the one where an ordinary gamer has something extraordinary happen to them. Maybe it was supposed to happen. Maybe it was my destiny or my karma or whatever. I know one thing for sure: Nothing’s ever going to be the same again.

It all started right here. Where else could it happen? Quantic Dream; capital of the interactive movie genre, the developer destiny chose for the umpteenth big game. I was just another pawn living my pawn’s life. Until that night when my life descended into chaos. And the man responsible for my torment? None other than David Cage.

Fahrenheit — or, as some parts of the world know it, Indigo Prophecy. A potentially promising noir tale that many say takes a turn for the worse. Loved by some, loathed by others, but leaving most falling somewhere in the middle. Today, I make my personal determination: Does Quantic Dream’s vision of a snowy apocalypse stand the test of time, or did it never really pass the quiz to begin with? To fully understand the events which transpired on the 16th of September, 2005, we must turn the clock back to an earlier time — to a time before things were forever changed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains embedded links to content that is Not Safe for Work, including animated GIFs depicting computer-generated graphic nudity. The original European release of the game was given a PEGI 18 rating, with some of the more sexually explicit content being cut in order to avoid an Adults Only rating in North America (bringing the game down to a Mature / 17+). As such, I’d ask that you do try to avoid clicking on any links with a “(NSFW)” label if you are not of legal age to view such content.

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Sonic Labyrinth (SGG)

Sonic Slows Down!

Blue streak, strolls by.
Bombin’ art by @thisintermezzo.

It was only a matter of time until Sonic the Hedgehog made his debut on the Bad Game Hall of Fame. But before we get into the whole “this game is terrible” discussion, lemme say a few words about my history with the Sonic franchise.

Now, like many folk out there, I have fond memories of playing the original Genesis trilogy, and even went out of my way to buy a Sega Saturn originally just to get my hands on the “definitive version” of Sonic 3D Blast. It was… underwhelming, to say the least. I will admit to having spent an absurd amount of time in the Sonic Adventure 2 Chao Garden, but outside of that, I was mostly content to let each new entry to the Sonic series post-fifth-gen zoom right on past me. And so, I would say my interest in the property had already begun to dissipate long before Sonic the Hedgehog ‘06 — the point where most folk first seemed to turn on the Blue Blur in a big way.

At the same time though, I wouldn’t say I’m a Sonic the Hedgehog “hater.” Honestly, even if each successive entry in the franchise had continued to be marked improvements over the prior, I probably would’ve eventually stopped following them as my interest in platformer games in general began to wane. But as I continue to observe Sonic from afar, there are certain elements of it that continue to appeal to me: I still think all the character designs are pretty cute, noodle limbs and all. I’m a sucker for the soundtracks, and will continue to tune into those even as I’m not playing the associated games. Tails is a very good boy. No matter what direction the franchise might head or spin off in, these are key things you cannot take away from Sonic.

But what about “going fast?” Is running really an essential ingredient in the Sonic formula? Some would argue that you spend more time standing around, waiting for / on platforms in the original Sonic the Hedgehog than you do speeding through hills and highways. So, what if a Sonic game decided to do away almost completely with Sonic’s ability to run? Sonic Labyrinth is one answer to that question. Let us never ask that question ever again.

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