Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Daikatana

Go To
Produced by Ion Storm and running on a modified version of the Quake II engine, Daikatana is John Romero's infamous First-Person Shooter, released for the Nintendo 64 and PC in 2000. It is infamous for being released several years later than planned; looking pretty outdated when it was released; several people publically quitting the development team (some of which formed together and made games of their own); the ill-advised advertisement; and laughably poor AI on your required companions. According to That Other Wiki, it appears on several lists of "worst video games of all time".

In 2030 AD, a scientist named Tatsuo Ebihara discovered the cure to a global pandemic, saving countless lives and making the Ebihara family line rich enough to wallpaper multiple mansions with $50 bills. Four hundred years later, a descendant of Tatsuo, 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 and traveled back in time to claim 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.


A Game Boy Color version of the game was also released in Europe in 2000 and Japan in 2001, though for obvious reasons it is more of a Reformulated Game than a port (featuring The Legend of Zelda-like isomeric gameplay and having heavier emphasis on roleplaying elements as a result). Said version doesn't share its bigger brother's rather infamous reputationnote , and is actually considered a classic on the system. The Japanese release was one of number of games exclusive to the Nintendo Power flash cartridge service (no relation to the magazine of the same name).

There's also a famous Let's Play from 2007 for this game; you can see it here.

The game was released on Steam and, if you have $6.99 ($5.99 at .


Daikatana contains examples of:

  • Abusive Advertising: The infamous ad campaign, which simply promised: "John Romero is about to make you his bitch." His intended audience found this rather less awesome than he'd expected; in fact 90% of them promptly started thinking "I bet/hope/wonder if this game will suck" upon sight.
  • The Alcatraz: The beginning of 2030 AD drops you inside of Alcatraz.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: A particularly stupid example: at one point in the medieval hub, Superfly will chide Hiro about being reluctant to enter a cemetery and call him "superstitious". Apparently he has some sort of memory loss and just forgot that in the previous hub (ancient Greece) you fought a whole army of animated skeletons, and thus it's perfectly reasonable to think other undead might exist in the game's universe (especially in a cemetery.)
  • Artificial Brilliance: While your allies have many Artificial Stupidity issues with combat AI, their pathfinding is usually fairly good about navigating around obstacles, jumping gaps, and using ladders. Main problem is they may or may not refuse to continue when the only way down is a painful drop.
  • Artificial Stupidity: It's a good thing you can order your allies to sit around and let you clear out the level on your own, because you otherwise spend most of the game protecting them. And despite the above trope, the enemies tend to be a lot worse when faced with obstacles, and even bosses can get stuck - including the Big Bad himself.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Apparently the bubonic plague turns people into homicidal plague zombies. Somewhat justified in that magic is involved, but on the other hand the plague itself is never mentioned as being magical, just that magic was used to help spread it.
  • Artistic License – History: In real history the Medieval bubonic plague pandemic didn't reach the Nordic countries until the 14th century; there was a plague epidemic in Europe in the 6th century but it didn't spread beyond the Mediterranean.
  • 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 1 HP. 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.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: In the N64 version, Kage Mishima sports this look instead of the elaborate samurai armor from the PC version.
  • 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. Its name even literally translates to "big sword", sort of. In the N64 version, the sheath alone is almost as long as Hiro is tall.
  • Big Bad: Kage Mishima.
  • Big "NO!": Done by Hiro when he's first sent back in time with the Daikatana.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Although he's not the first victim in general, Superfly is the first one of the trio (Hiro, Mikiko and him) to die in the final level. Averted in the GBC version, who dies right after Mikiko.
  • Boring, but Practical: Every episode has at least one starting weapon you can vaguely rely on. If you can get a hang of the Ion Blaster's ricochet, it can actually come in handy for shooting around the tight corridors you'll find throughout Episode 1, despite being the most basic weapon in your arsenal. The Discus of Daedalus in Episode 2 also has limited homing properties and theoretically infinite ammo, making a good choice over the flashier weapons to can obtain. The Bolter in Episode 3 is a rapid-fire crossbow that does far more damage than you'd expect. Episode 4's Glock can keep enemies stunned and can take out most in three shots, though at least in this episode, you get several more surprisingly practical weapons, too.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Driven to Suicide: After wrestling with Inshiro Ebihara, Hiro's ancestor Usagi was mortally wounded and then, he throwed himself along with the Daikatana in the Fujiyama's volcano.
  • Early Game Hell: You start the game with only an unreliable melee attack and a gun that you can accidentally kill yourself with, and the first episode is crawling with security guards who are hard to hit and do absurd amounts of damage with their hitscan weapons. Later episodes become much easier as your stats grow and you obtain weapons that are actually practical.
  • Easter Egg: Each time zone has a secret underwater area containing a(n admittedly very low-res) 3D rendition of the Dopefish. It's actually pretty deadly, but the secret areas also usually have a Mana Skull to make you invincible for a while, and killing the Dopefish 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. Made more bearable by the AI commands, allowing you to simply order them to hang back while you clear the place out.
  • 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.
  • Evil All Along: Mikiko Ebihara. Also, she tries to seize the Daikatana for herself at the end of the game.
  • Experience Points:
    • You can't see the actual numbers (just a vague bar that fills up; 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.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Three major points of contention. The game is riddled with bugs and minor errors, the AI sidekicks are a chore at best and an active hindrance most of the time, and almost every weapon has some obnoxious mechanic that's liable to waste time (the automatic shotgun with a sticky trigger) or damage you (everything else).
    • One particular example in the very first level: Hard difficulty adds a turret that can chew you up in seconds at a specific junction, which is only just barely passable without taking damage by bunny-hopping at top speed - otherwise, say goodbye to half your health.note 
  • Falling Damage: Fall damage is practically inevitable, given the low threshold of how far a player must fall before the game deems it unsafe. Many routes of the game have you dropping to lower levels multiple times, so being on your last few points of health in a room with enemies is usually safer than during transit.
  • Foreign Language Title: Mind you, not correct foreign language. The developers are not alone in using the word, of course. 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". Besides, katana has no distinct large version; the term actually used to describe large swords in Japan is "Odachi" or "Nodachi" - as in, "great tachi", referring to the sword that was predecessor of the katana.
  • Foreshadowing: Mikiko rather callously suggests to Hiro a few times in the story to just leave Superfly behind when he goes missing on the notion that he's slowing them down. Of course, that's only because it would make it easier for her to betray Hiro at the very end.
  • Gainax Ending: After killing Mishima the various timelines created by his time meddling start collapsing and Hiro and co rush to recharge the Daikatana so they can make it back to their own time. Then suddenly Mikiko steals the sword, kills Superfly and reveals that the Ebiharas wanted to use the power of the sword for their own selfish ends just like the Mishimas did. After killing Mikiko, Hiro uses the Daikatana to rewrite history so that Mikiko and Superfly (with no memory of Hiro) are alive again and for some reason living in 2030 AD working with Tatsuo (with no comment as to Mikiko being Tatsuo's great-great-etc descendant) as he searches for the Daikatana in vain, and Hiro becomes a hermit in the same time period keeping the Daikatana in hiding.
  • 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 (with one exception), 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.
    • Your allies also occasionally disappear outright, without the game figuring it out. Cue being unable to progress without enabling the console and spawning the NPC anew.
  • 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...
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The story claims that if two Daikatanas touch, it could destroy all of existence. During the boss fight with Mishima, you can smack your sword against his with an audible clank, and nothing happens.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: In addition to the game's title, 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. At least the main character's family name is a tribute to Shigeru Miyamoto, as well as Miyamoto Musashi (which is fitting for a swordmaster).
  • Guide Dang It!: As noted by JonTron in his review for the Nintendo 64 version, the game doesn't contain any control tutorial in the menus, nor is there any pop-up in the game itself that shows what controls would be necessary to perform certain actions. When he comes up to a place where he needs to crouch to continue, he's left completely stumped until he goes online and finds out the controls is "R+A"...when the "L" button is left completely unused.
    JonTron: Now, may I remind you THIS IS THE FIRST THREE MINUTES OF THE GAME!
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Subverted. After killing Superfly, Mikiko reveals that the Ebiharas were a bunch of bandits and cutthroats who wanted the Daikatana for their own selfish ends just like the Mishimas.
  • 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.
  • Ladder Physics: Trying to climb down a ladder without dropping off a ledge entirely is almost as difficult as trying not to kill yourself by self-inflicted friendly fire. Predictably, the worst of it is in the Early Game Hell.
  • 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.
    • Required with the Buboids, who just keep getting back up unless they're gibbed (fortunately, the time period they're in provides a melee weapon build especially for gibbing them.)
  • Medusa: Humanoid with a snake head, who petrifies the player if looked at. To defeat her, you need to look away and use one of the superweapons.
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: See Obvious Beta below. The designers didn't think of ensuring that scripting still works properly in co-op.
  • 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.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Medusa has the usual petrified statues. Once she is killed, the statues become free.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: J. Paul Slavens voices Hiro Miyamoto with an American accent.
  • Non-Indicative Difficulty: The only difference between difficulty levels is the number of enemies per stage. This means that one can earn considerably more experience points playing on hard than on normal, making the game considerably easier in the long run.
  • Obvious Beta:
    • The game is riddled with bugs, especially the co-op mode - early highlights in the Let's Play by Proteus4994 and Suspicious involve their needing to abandon the original plan of playing the game completely unpatched because they would invariably crash at a spot halfway through the first level, and then having to noclip through a door in the second level that was supposed to open in the starting cutscene, but didn't because cutscenes are disabled in co-op. Again, these are the first two levels 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.
  • Party in My Pocket: In the Game Boy Color version, resolving the Escort Mission problem, yet adding Character Select Forcing at times.
  • Plot Hole: When Hiro finally meats Kage Mishima face to face he finds Mishima has his own Daikatana. When he asks how this is possible, Mishima claims he used time travel to steal it, which raises the obvious question: If he stole it, how would Hiro still have it?
  • Poison Mushroom: An "upgrade" to the initial melee weapon increases the weapon's damage (to the point of killing robotic enemies in a single punch), by strapping some vaguely chainsaw-like device onto it. The problem is that this makes switching to and from this weapon far slower, as each time you slap the device on, pull the starter cord, then take it off when switching back. Thankfully the device runs out of fuel after about a minute of use and gets discarded.
  • 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 Brown: The Kyoto and Ancient Greece episodes both avert this, though in noticeably different ways - while Greece actually has a noticeable amount of color everywhere, Kyoto settles for something more like "Real is Eye-Searing Green". The Dark Ages and Present play this painfully straight, unfortunately, though the former is set during the winter so there's snow everywhere to add at least one other color.
  • Reality Ensues: Mishima repeatedly warns Hiro that the two Daikatanas can never truly clash without destroying the universe. Your only viable response to this in the final battle is to shoot him to death; he does have ranged attacks, but his most damaging attack is of course his own blade. Notably, you could try to use your Daikatana and have the honorable duel the game presents this battle as, because suddenly the rules about the blades clashing stopped mattering, but he hits so hard that it's not worth bothering. The only real fault in this 'realistic' pragmatism is that he's a Damage-Sponge Boss and will likely soak up all your ammo before he dies. The GBC version doesn't even give the illusion of choice, locks the Daikatana from use, and strongly enforces the pragmatism for plot.
  • Robbing the Dead: One of the things Superfly says after you die implies that he's going to loot your corpse for the cooler stuff you happen to have on you.
  • 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.
    • Each era has a weapon that is designed for rocket-jumping, and it (at least in theory) 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. As above, though, some other weapons also work for this purpose, like the aforementioned Shotcycler in Kyoto or the Slugger's secondary fire in San Francisco.
  • RPG Elements: You gain extra party members across the game and can level up various stats to do more damage, jump higher, move faster, etc.
  • Save-Game Limits/Save Token: You need a Save Gem in order to save your progress; but you can only carry up to three at a time... and every time you use one, it vanishes! 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 Mikiko's ancestor and claiming the cure to a deadly virus for himself.
  • Sequential Boss: Kage Mishima in the Game Boy Color version.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Hiro Miyamoto's last name was used as a shout-out to famous Nintendo idea man and Mario-creator Shigeru Miyamoto.
    • In the Crematorium, an organ rendition of At Doom's Gate from Doom can be heard playing.
    • In the 2nd part of the Plague Village level, you can find under the bridge a secret underwater area containing the Dopefish.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Toshiro Ebihara. He's the one who convinces Hiro to search for his daughter Mikiko and the Daikatana. Also, he's killed by Mishima's hitmen-ninjas right here in the intro.
  • Soul Brotha: Superfly Johnson. Just the fact that his name was taken straight from a Blaxploitation movie should already make him qualify. 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, well, the laziest possible route was taken.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Averted. Almost every single weapon is a gimmick weapon; particularly in the first episode, almost every single time, the gimmick is "it can hurt you", which often conspires with terrible collision detection to make it seem closer to "it's designed to hurt you" in practice. In fact, it's only in the last time zone that you get your very first pistol, at which point you start to truly appreciate this trope.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The titular Daikatana.
  • 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 in more than one map, 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, Mishima will repeat this warning, stating that if he's to die he doesn't care if the entire rest of the universe has to go down with him - and then they clash swords with no ill effects (Hiro will usually be gibbed instantly if you try it in gameplay, but that's more an effect of Mishima being the most powerful enemy of the game than anything else). In the Game Boy Color version, however, 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.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: The infamous "John Romero's About To Make You His Bitch" ad.
  • 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.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: A rather annoying example: in the first hub (26th century Japan) level transitions are absolute. The second hub (ancient Greece) has a puzzle where you have to find the letters to spell out the word "aegis", and unless you have been very thorough in exploring the previous level, you probably don't have all the letters, meaning you will have to go back to find them. Considering there is literally no foreshadowing about this, it comes across as downright unfair.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: And with your arsenal, you will wish that it were usable. Averted in the latter half of Episode 4, however, with machinegunners and shotgunners dropping their respective ammo.
  • 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.
    • 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. It's also possible to desync the traps in the first part of the SEAL Training Center's obstacle course by getting crushed in it in co-op, making it impossible to progress past it without noclip.
  • Villain Has a Point: Kage Mishima warns Hiro to not trust one of his companions, He was right and Mikiko lampshades it.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: "I can't leave without my buddy Superfly!"


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: