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Video Game: Daikatana

"We were promised genius entertainment, and in a way that's what we got, because Daikatana ran like Stephen Hawking."

Produced by ION Storm and running on a modified version of the Quake II engine, Daikatana is John Romero's ambitious (and infamous) First-Person Shooter.

In 2030 AD, Hiro Miyamoto's ancestor discovered the cure to a global pandemic, saving countless lives and making the Miyamoto family line rich enough to wallpaper multiple mansions with $50 bills. Four hundred years later, Hiro's father, along with his aide Kage Mishima, discovered the Daikatana and, through careful study, eventually realized that it possessed the power to transport its wielder through time. Mishima promptly took the Daikatana, slew Hiro's father, then traveled back in time and claimed the cure for the pandemic himself. In the now-changed 2455 AD, Mishima's corporation controls much of the world, using the cure as a proverbial carrot on a stick, and it is up to Hiro Miyamoto, with the aid of Mikiko Ebihara and Superfly Johnson, to follow him, take the Daikatana and Set Right What Once Went Wrong.

However, the game is much more well-known for its bizarrely arrogant marketing campaign (see image), extremely delayed development, poor critical and commercial reception upon release, and ultimately for causing the end of ION Storm.

Players, naturally, disagree as to whether the game merely failed to live up to the insane hype, was picked on because of the insane hype, or was genuinely terrible. Either way, most agree that the marketing campaign was rather arrogant and practically begging for John Romero to be knocked down a few notches.

Has been recently released on Steam and GOG.com, if you have $6.99 ($5.99 at Gog.com) and a case of morbid curiosity.


Daikatana contains examples of:

  • The Alcatraz: The beginning of 2030 AD drops you inside of Alcatraz.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Most of your arsenal, though "awesome" might be stretching it a tad. Just in the first section alone, you have a basic gun that ricochets off walls, usually straight back at you, a shotgun-revolver that fires all six of its shots when you pull the trigger once, and a C-4 launcher with a blast radius only slightly less than its maximum effective range. Right there you have two weapons that you can easily kill yourself with, and one that forces you to either waste ammunition or just stand out in the open while it gradually empties itself. Who would make guns like these?
    • The titular sword always leaves your opponent on 1hp. In theory, this would allow you to deliver the finishing blow; in practice, the opponent would often slice you to pieces before you could deliver a second strike. It also blocks a third of the screen, minimum; when fully leveled up, it starts sparkling, which blocks the screen more.
  • BFS: The titular Daikatana takes up a third of the screen when you wield it and doesn't kill what you hit; a lethal blow reduces your target to 1 hit point, so you get to finish it off with an extra blow.
    • And its name literally translates to "big sword", sort of.
  • Big "NO!": Done by Hiro when he's sent back in time with the Daikatana.
  • Character Select Forcing: In the Game Boy Color version, the story sometimes requires the player to play as Superfly and Mikiko for no good reason (for example, there is a door that only Mikiko can open, but why play as her when she's in the party at all times?). The problem is that they can't use many of the available weapons.
  • Critical Existence Failure
  • Death Course: The SEAL training center in 2030 AD. Considering how easy it is to die while going through it, it's a wonder that any SEALs exist.
  • Disney Villain Death: Mikiko falls in a pit of lava at the end of the Game Boy Color version as Hiro dodges her attack. Superfly also falls trying to save her.
  • Easter Egg: Each time zone has a secret underwater area containing a (admittedly very low-res) 3D rendition of the Dopefish. It's actually pretty deadly, but killing it nets a lot of experience to boost your RPG stats.
  • Escort Mission: The game ends if either of your Too Dumb to Live AI partners dies, and you can't finish a level if they are trapped elsewhere in it - probably because of the cutscenes they are in later. You will be shouting "Stop Helping Me!!" far more often than you'd like.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Your untimely death can be brought about by (among other things) cyborg frogs, crocodiles and dragonflies, Hoplites, sharks, dwarves, rats and your own weapons. Not even by accident, either; much of your arsenal seems tailored to be just as dangerous to you as it is to everything else.
    • Several weapons, especially the instant death ones, will target you if there are no enemies nearby.
  • Experience Points: Of a sort; you can't see the actual numbers (another annoyance) but if you kill enough enemies you can upgrade your stats.
    • The Daikatana gains experience as well, growing more powerful (and brighter) as you kill enemies with it, eventually becoming the melee weapon equivalent of a discotheque. Unfortunately, when you're using it, none of that experience goes to you.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Mikiko tries to seize the Daikatana for herself at the end of the game.
  • Foreign Language Title: Mind you, not correct foreign language. The characters on the box are okay, and can be pronounced "dai" and "katana" individually, but when characters are combined together, they can have different pronunciations. In this case, the overall word would be pronounced "daitō". The developers are not alone in using the word, of course.
  • Freeware Games: John Romero has placed the (actually decent) Europe-only GBC game as a download on his website.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: This game has a host of these, including a glitch in the Lair of Medusa level where, when played in co-op, the player can get stuck to the floor when spawning, and get stuck in an infinite loop of respawns and telefrags by the other players. The only way to get out of it is to noclip past that spot.
    • The second level of the first episode has a large door that is opened by a ghost in the cutscene that starts the level. Cutscenes are removed from co-op mode, resulting in the first episode being unbeatable in co-op without cheating.
    • The AI allies frequently glitch up and begin running into walls and you'll be unable to snap them out of it. Considering your allies need to be by your side to finish a level, this was game-breaking indeed. This isn't even getting into how your allies frequently kill themselves on every stage hazard they can find, resulting in an instant failed mission.
    • The Nintendo 64 port of the game has a bizarre glitch. If you quit a level and go back to the main menu then try to continue your game, you will spawn with no weapons except the Disruptor Glove (the absolutely useless melee weapon you're given at the start of the game). You have to select "load game" again before continuing the game to circumvent the glitch.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Oh so painfully absent. Notable because a glitched cheat allows the player to enable it. At which point the game starts being kinda fun...
  • Gratuitous Japanese: In addition to the game's title, just about the name of every main character who isn't Superfly Johnson. It seems that Romero simply picked whatever cliched Japanese name or word came to his mind for his characters. The main character's family name could be seen as a tribute to Shigeru Miyamoto.
    • The "Miyamoto" surname is a tribute to Shigeru, but Hiro actually references the main character in Snow Crash.
    • It could also be a tribute to Miyamoto Musashi, which is fitting for a swordmaster.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Ronin, Samurai and Shogun.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: You, the player, will be on both ends of this if you try to play multiplayer, thanks to the game's broad arsenal of barely-controllable weaponry.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Guess what's in the back room of the Mishima Burgers factory. Go on, guess.
  • I Meant to Do That: See Nintendo Hard.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Gratuitous grand-scale dismemberment all around, even when it shouldn't happen, like getting sandwiched by a free-swinging door. Almost every method of dying results in gibs, including drowning, freezing to death and succumbing to poisoning.
  • Nintendo Hard: You see, the game isn't badly-designed; it's just an "expert FPS."
    John Romero: It was not meant to be a beginner's FPS but rather an expert FPS that required more than just the player hopping around and thinking only of themselves like most other FPS's - Daikatana required you to also help your sidekicks survive the ordeal alongside you. This new play mechanic threw many people off the game because it was too difficult.
  • Obvious Beta: The game is riddled with bugs, especially the co-op mode - an early highlight in the Let's Play by Proteus4994 and Suspicious involves their needing to noclip through a door that was supposed to open in the starting cutscene but didn't because cutscenes are disabled in co-op. This is the second level in the game.
    • The game's official demo was even worse — not least because the installer's self-extractor was broken, requiring you to use WinRAR or a similar program to manually extract the installation files. Moreover, the first level transition quite often caused a bug that would corrupt your save file and prevent the game from starting until you deleted the file. It's not hard to imagine that this demo contributed a lot to the Hype Backlash that doomed the finished product to failure.
  • Party in My Pocket: In the Game Boy Color version, resolving the Escort Mission problem, yet adding Character Select Forcing at times.
  • Post Final Boss: Mikiko.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Discus of Daedalus always returns to you after it's thrown; the trouble is that a glitch sometimes causes it to hurt you when it comes back.
  • Real is Green: Almost everything in the first quarter of the game is a nauseating shade of green.
  • Rocket Jump: Doable with the Shotcycler-6, the Awesome, but Impractical shotgun mentioned above. Of note is that because each shot adds its impulse to the jump...somehow...if you pull it off correctly (itself a minor miracle) it allows you to get much farther than usual for a Rocket Jump.
    • Granted, each era has a weapon that is designed for rocket-jumping, and it propels you enough that you don't get hurt by splash damage: the Sidewinder in Kyoto, Poseidon's Trident in Greece, the Ballista in Norway, and the Kineticore in San Fransisco.
  • RPG Elements
  • Save Game Limits / Save Token: You have to use a Save Gem in order to save, and you can only carry three at a time. In later levels, Save Gems become rarer. A post-release patch allows you to switch off this arbitrary limit and save whenever you want.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: You have to stop Kage Mishima from killing your ancestor and claiming the cure for himself.
  • Sequential Boss: Kage Mishima in the Game Boy Color version.
  • Soul Brotha: Superfly Johnson. Just the fact that his name was taken straight from a Blaxploitation movie should already make him qualify.
    • It's more interesting than that. According to this article by one of the game's original writers, the character's "name" was Superfly Williams - a tribute to the blaxploitation series and Jim Kelly's character from Enter the Dragon. Initially conceived as a French character named after the few surviving cultural documents existing in the post-apocalyptic future, the end of the game would have seen him learn his true identity. After the writer left, the laziest possible route was taken, and... well...
  • Standard FPS Guns: Averted, almost every single weapon is a gimmick weapon. In fact, it's only in the last time zone that you get your very first PISTOL!
  • Sword of Plot Advancement
  • Taken for Granite: Superfly gets turned to stone by the medusa after the trio gets separated in 1200 BC. He gets better after you kill it.
  • Tele-Frag: If one of the players spawns in an occupied space, this will happen, resulting in the inevitable for the former occupant. Since everyone respawns in the same exact location, this can lead to consecutive telefragging if nobody bothers to move (or can't move at all).
  • Temporal Paradox: Both Mishima and Mikiko warn Hiro that this will happen if his Daikatana comes in contact with Mishima's. During the final battle, they clash swords with no ill effects. Actual reasons for this discrepancy vary from 'I Lied', to being wrong, to 'They Just Didn't Care'.
    • In the Game Boy Color version, Hiro can't use the Daikatana during the battle. If he had it equipped during the pre-boss cutscene, the game opens the menu so he can choose something else.
  • They Just Didn't Care: Turning on the High Definition option on the N64 version with an Expansion Pak makes the game's display widescreen, but does nothing to actually improve the graphics.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: See the page picture.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Trailers Always Lie: The finished game looks NOTHING like this trailer
  • Training from Hell: The Navy SEAL training facility in 2030 contains an obstacle course consisting of several sections where you have to jump across moving platforms over an insta-kill electrified floor, dodge crushers and swim through a shark tank.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: And with your arsenal you will wish that it would be usable.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: A level-design bug in one of the last levels prevented a door from opening to allow your sidekicks to regroup with you... in single player mode, no less. Fixed in a patch, but a pretty bad error to leave unnoticed.
    • As mentioned above, it's impossible to actually progress through the second level of the game in co-op without cheating, due to cutscenes not triggering in co-op.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: "I can't leave without my buddy Superfly!"


Custom RoboNintendo 64 Dance Dance Revolution
CryostasisWebsite/GOG.comDangerous Dave
CrystalisGame Boy ColorDeer Hunter
CubeFirst-Person ShooterDamage Incorporated

alternative title(s): Daikatana
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