Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zyclunt/Blade Warrior

I purchased Blade Warrior approximately ten years ago at a Big Lots. If that's not poverty enough for you, it was part of a two pack. The other game that was included in the box was Samurai Shodown 2, oddly titled simply Samurai Spirits. I don't know why, but I guess the 90's were an odd time for PC ports of arcade games. That's not really an issue with Blade Warrior because as far as I can tell it is a PC original. It is one of the earliest games from Phantagram, the company that went on to make the Kingdom Under Fire series.

Blade Warrior is a confusing name because there was an earlier game called Blade Warrior made by Image Works. This is probably why this game is also known as Zyclunt, though I'm not sure if it had different names for different regions or what the source of the difference is. I must say that Zyclunt is possibly the worst title for a game ever. I really don't know what the thought process for it was other than that it sounds vaguely futuristic. I may have found the title acceptable if it were and 80's arcade game, but not for something created in the mid-90's.

For some reason I could not get clear screenshots of the game. The methods I usually use yielded totally blank screens or a mess of psychedelic colors. If you want to see the game, you can watch this youtube video. When you start up Blade Warrior you are greeted with a 45 second CG intro that probably used up most of the game's budget. It looks decent for the era, and it does an okay job of establishing the world in the game. The 2D sprites and backgrounds of the actual game are pretty nice as well, at least on par with arcade games of the time.  The music is strange.  I don't really know how to describe it, but it isn't nearly as energetic or electronic as I expected from the game.

The sprites are rather large, detailed, and well animated, and while this looks good, it does make the game feel clunky. On paper the controls seem good, but in practice it just doesn't feel polished enough. You can attack upward, forward, crouching, or during a jump. If you hold the attack button you'll go into a defensive stance that blocks attack, but most of the time you can just slash at projectiles to cancel them out anyway, and the block doesn't stop melee hits. You can double-tap a direction to run, but it feels out of place due to the slow pace of everything else in the game. It may have been better if you could attack while running or even walking, for that matter.

The whole experience of the game feels sort of like a crippled version of Strider. This is most obvious when you pick up “battle gear,” which are essentially Strider's ouroboros. The most disappointing thing about Blade Warrior is the level design. All you do is walk right and kill robots until you reach a boss. There is no change in terrain level or platforming elements, just flat ground and more robots. I guess I can understand why some people would like the game, but it's just boring for me.

1 comment:

  1. You could upload it? It would be a valuable contribution. Greetings.