The mid 1990s saw a ton of Mortal Kombat clones, and it seems like most of them were made by Mortal Kombat creators Midway themselves. The N64, known for clunky fighting games, got pretty much the entire goddamn B squad, including Mace: The Dark Age, Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. (which I’ve previously reviewed), and War Gods (arcade / ps1 / n64 / windows). Now, if you’d listen to the Internet, War Gods is a piece of molding shit. IGN and a dozen other review sites can’t squeeze out more than a 5 / 10 in its favor? Good. I yanked my copy from the used game market this year for $5 – a market that prices Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero at $13. Clearly the world is a fucked up place. And while there’s at least a hundred hairy basement dwellers out there that’ll tell me I got ripped off regardless, I’ll be straight with you: any game that makes me starting telling my wife “I kill you and I take your power” when she asks me to do something… its a good one.
Fists of What Can Reasonably Be Interpreted As Fury
Like all Mortal Kombat-ish games of the era, War Gods pits a bunch of nuclear freaks against each other in something that vaguely resembles fighting. You spend a lot of time punching ineffectively about half a foot from your opponent, broken up only by combo attacks that feel more like violent chemical reactions than choreographed movements. If observed with an air of realism, one might think that the combatants involved all suffer from the same neuro-muscular and bone diseases. It’s like watching marionettes operated by blind people try to bang each other. I fucking love it.
Though the characters have been oft ridiculed, I feel they’re a big part of what the game has going for it (probably for the exact same reasons). There’s the roman-austrian (their idea,not mine) hybrid Maximus (of “I kill you and I take your power!” fame), serial-numbered cyborg CY-5, Tak the rock dude that always kicks my ass, generic Egyptian guy Anubis, “what the fuck are wrong with my hands?!” Voodoo, and some experimental soldier who looks like a male stripper that wasn’t sure if tonight’s theme was Construction Worker, Russian Military, Lumberjack, or Cyclops from the X-Men. But that’s not all! No, no. There’s also half-naked Viking Vallah, half-naked pagan Pagan, and Kabuki Jo. Oh yes, there’s a fucking character named Kabuki fucking Jo. He looks like a clown that learned to get dressed in the dark just in time to be hit by a truck, has a super awkward fighting stance, can pull out twin green lightsabers, and has the most badass cheapshot psuedo-crane-face-kick of all time. Toss in some codes and you can play as boss characters Exor and Grox. One of them looks like an anthroporphic green cock (complete with veins) – and the other looks like its long lost balls. Which is which? That’s for you to decide.
The gameplay itself isn’t going to entertain any technical fight fans (a lot of moves are recycled from one character to another, even), but if you like to slam beers and pummel shit, pull up a chair. One of those high punch, low punch, high kick, low kick kinda jobbers, you can deliver a fat Mortal Kombat style uppercut, sweep the leg, or perform a roundhouse. Alternate your attacks and mash the d-pad a little… the combos, at least small ones, will start flying. The most interesting thing here for me, however, is the “3D” button. Certainly a mechanic we take for granted nowadays, it allows you to move forward or backwards in space, either slowly or with a bit of “oomph” via double tap (you can also double tap to run). Science calls this a “rotation.” Moving out of the way of an attack and sweeping some asshole who was about to pull one over on you can be pretty deeply satisfying. I’d actually go so far as to say that this mechanism works here better than it does in the majority of fighters of this era, reminding me of how fun it is to sidestep fools in Soul Calibur 2 (though clearly nowhere near as polished). There’s chatter about this having been a focus of the War Gods game mechanic, but it probably only works this well by accident. I suppose sometimes the ends do justify the means.
I Keel You
The fatalities in the game are mostly so-so, with a few exceptions, including a character that tears his opponent’s heart out and takes a bite out of it, and one that pounds the enemy into the ground like a tent stake and then kicks their head clear off the screen. Always getting the “omfg I actually won” jitters and fucking up the fatality sequences, I’m mostly happy about the fact that a well-placed uppercut at the end of a match will send your fallen foe flying way the hell up in the air (unless you’re near the border of the arena, for whatever reason).
While the overall game feels a bit unfinished, I’m pleased to have discovered little details like the “COMEBACK VICTORY!” message you get if you’re beaten within an inch of your life and then turn the tables successfully. That and all the green stuff. This game is really green. That’s not necessarily a good thing, I just needed to add something there because “details” was plural and I couldn’t think of anything else. Everything said and done, I didn’t expect to like this game as much as I have. Totally worth having on the shelf if you like stupid, brutish cheese with just enough personality to bump it up in the replay line.
By Gamesman Anus