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Video Game / Shadow Warrior (1997)

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"Ha ha! You no mess with Lo Wang!"

A First-Person Shooter based on the famous Build engine of Duke Nukem 3D fame, Shadow Warrior had the misfortune of being released in 1997, when the sprite-based shooters were already showing their age (compare Blood, which was based on the same engine and released the same year, but is better remembered). Among the first shooters to contain now-common features such as controllable vehicles, alternate weapon firing modes, bosses with more going for them than lots of HP, and lower enemy variety with slower pace. The game, like most of the other Build engine games like it (particularly Redneck Rampage), is characterized by its crude humor and by gratuitous application of the Rule of Cool.

The player controls Lo Wang, the eponymous Shadow Warrior, a former employee/bodyguard of Zilla Enterprises... until he found out that Master Zilla was summoning monsters from the netherworld and plotting to Take Over the World. Being a man of honor, Lo Wang quit the corp, but Zilla decided that if Wang will not be on his side, then he has to die. Now, of course, Lo Wang sets out to reach Zilla and thoroughly kick his gluteus maximus - partly to save the world, but primarily out of revenge for the death of his former teacher, Master Leep.

Two expansions were released, both for free: Twin Dragon in 1998, and Wanton Destruction in 2005 (when the former CEO of the company that developed it randomly stumbled across it on a CD full of add-ons the company had created). In the former, Lo Wang battles his Evil Twin brother, Hung Lo; in the latter, he faces Master Zilla for the last time. A third expansion titled Deadly Kiss, starring Wang's sister Tensi Yoka, was announced in early 1998 but never materialized.

The original can be bought with both expansions on A reboot was released in 2013 by Flying Wild Hog, the same developer as Hard Reset, and introduces a robust skill upgrade system, the ability to use Ki Manipulation and rendering the humor slightly less racist (but still immature as expected). To prepare people for this remake, they released the original game on Steam as a free-to-play title. In addition, a slightly Updated Re-release with Steam Achievements and OpenGL-compatible versions of the game and its expansions is available for purchase on Steam.

Not to be confused with the former European title of Ninja Gaiden.

Provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The Coolies, zombified Chinese villagers who will charge you with a crate of explosives. Even when killed, they will raise as a ghost shortly after.
  • Affectionate Parody: As Duke Nukem 3D was to cheesy action movies and Blood was to horror films, The game is one for "bad kung-fu movies".
  • Animesque: Almost any of the female NPCs you encounter, in contrast to the action movie style of the rest of the game. Though the dominatrix ninjas and the old woman in Hara-Kiri Harbor are still rendered in the same style as the rest of the game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: A lot of weapons can fit under this category.
    • The Nuke. The blast radius on it is so huge, you can easily kill yourself with it. The trick is to duck behind cover before the nuke makes contact. Even after you master that trick, there aren't really a lot of places or enemies outside of bosses that warrant a nuke to the face. When equipped (by pushing the missile launcher button 3 times) there is a count down of 3 seconds (4 if you count the word "warning") before you can fire it, meaning if you plan to use it you should equip it and wait until it's ready before engaging the target.
    • The Grenade Launcher, simply for having an absurd blast radius. It's not a good weapon for direct assaults, but it's perfect for shooting around corners.
    • The Railgun. It doesn't deal as much damage as you'd expect it to, and it seems to constantly miss the enemy, even with auto-aim on (hint: aim slightly to the right). Without auto-aim, there's still the split-second delay between pulling the trigger and the shot you have to contend with.
    • The Guardian Head. Fantastic weapon to use, only hampered by its insanely low ammo count, and the rate at which it consumes it.
  • Beat Still, My Heart:
    • One of the weapons is a still-beating, blood-spouting heart. It summons a clone of you if used.
    • The Rippers, the monster the above weapon is taken from, will rip out your heart if they manage to kill you.
  • Bond One-Liner: Lo Wang has a 10th Dan Black Belt in the discipline.
    Lo Wang: "You move like a pregnant yak!"
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Riot Gun. It has a large ammunition capacity, the ammunition for it is relatively common and fills up just over half of its maximum ammunition capacity each time they are picked up, it deals a consistent and considerable amount of damage per shot with its first fire mode, and its second fire mode is a perfect surrogate for an automatic rapid-fire shotgun, but it's ultimately an incredibly boring weapon to use.
    • The Uzis. Great for mook crowd control, but not as fun or destructive as any other weapon.
  • Caltrops: Appear as an inventory item (and as a trap in one level). Can be thrown on the ground where they hurt anyone who steps on them.
    Lo Wang: Who put these here? Ow!
  • Can't Bathe Without a Weapon: Follow the singing to find a woman taking a Waterfall Shower and covering herself with her hands. But watch out, she only looks unarmed. If Wang stands too close his pickup lines will lead her to whip out an Uzi and open fire.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The enemy ninjas are distinguished by the color of their pants. The regular Mooks have brown pants, while Elite Mooks have different colored pants that indicate their special abilities and weapons.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: In the final level, which is set atop and inside a volcano, Lo Wang has no problem with prancing around pools filled with hot lava.
  • Cool Old Guy: Lo Wang seems to be at "Old Master" age, making him one of the oldest if not the oldest FPS protagonists around. The 2013 reboot has a much younger Lo Wang, being a prequel to the original game.
  • Corporate Samurai: Lo Wang's former job.
  • Cowardly Boss: Episode 1 ends with you facing the Serpent God, who proceeds to fight you with much fanfare... and teleports away after suffering a little damage.
    Lo Wang: HEY! Come back here and finish fight! Ugly, scary, snake... shitface!
  • Diagonal Cut: Ninja + katana = 2 half-ninjas.
    Ooh, you have Split Personality!
  • Disc-One Nuke: Not even out of Lo Wang's apartment in the first level, you can find a secret area in his house that holds a nuclear warhead, of all things.
  • Dirty Old Man: Master Leep, judging by all the naked women living in his mansion. Not to mention Lo Wang himself...
  • Dirty Old Woman: The old woman in the who tries to flirt with Lo Wang during Hara-Kiri Harbor. He'll express his disgust when the player interacts with her.
    Lo Wang: Lady, someone beat you wit' the ugly stick!
    • Wanton Destruction expands her role slightly, with her knocking on the door in the first level and appearing in the Monastery level She also appears in the ending, where she stalks Lo Wang on his trip back home and is implied to her way with poor Wang after she breaks into his house.
  • Double Entendre:
    • Mostly related to Lo Wang's last name. Just about everything Wang says is a single entendre, at best.
      Lo Wang: You want to wash Wang, or you want to watch Wang wash wang?
      Lo Wang: Whooo want some Wang?
    • Most fortune cookie messages in the game are also double entendres.
      Fortune say: Baseball wrong, man with four balls can't walk.
  • Driven to Suicide: If a standard mook fires at Lo-Wang for a long enough time without hurting him significantly, they'll eventually feel so dishonoured they'll stick their Uzi's barrel in their mouth and shoot half their skull off. At times, though, it seems like they do it out of sheer randomness, like Lo-Wang simply approaching them from around a corner.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: "Skyline", the last level of Wanton Destruction, forces you to play at the harder two of four difficulties to fight the final boss. This may be intentional but this could also be a bug as seen below.
  • Elite Mooks: All the ninjas above the regular brown-colored ninjas have significantly enhanced health and a variety of special abilities and weapons based on their color.
  • Evil Twin: Hung Lo, the Final Boss of the Twin Dragons expansion, is Lo Wang's twin brother.
  • Fartillery: The Sumo Demons leave an unpleasant gift behind when you kill them.
  • Fanservice: For some bizarre and illogical reason, there are many scantily clad (if they are dressed at all) women dispersed throughout the game.
    • Many players were caught off guard when the women would suddenly pull out a gun and shoot at the player if provoked enough via the use key.
    • The only gal whose nipples are visible commits seppuku (probably why she went unused).
  • Far East: The game takes place in a mishmashed Chinese/Japanese setting. The main character, a ninja with a Chinese name, is the most obvious example.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: "Skyline", the last level of Wanton Destruction, is impossible to complete (even with cheats) on the lower two (out of four) difficulty levels, as the final boss fails to spawn.
  • Guns Akimbo: If you manage to obtain a second Uzi, whether by killing a Mook or finding it as a regular pickup weapon, you will hold both of them at once for double the Dakka (and double the ammo count and consumption). The player may still choose whether to use both or just one.
    "Be ploud, Mr. Woo."
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: See Diagonal Cut above. Lo Wang actually says this occasionally when he slices up an enemy.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Both the title character and the hordes of ninja mooks.
    • Averted with one type of ninja enemy, which is always invisible until you kill him. Appropriately, he's the most dangerous of the ninjas for being incredibly fast and capable of killing Lo-Wang in one hit even at max health and armor.
  • High-Pressure Blood: With the bad guys and the rabbits. If there are two or more rabbits in a given area, they will do what rabbits do. Shortly afterwards, one of them will shoot a baby rabbit and a gout of blood from its hindquarters.
  • Idle Animation: When left alone, Lo Wang attempts to catch bees with chopsticks, but gives up after a while.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: All over the place. Lo Wang is implied to be Japanese, and yet he has a Chinese-sounding name and makes references to Chinese culture ("Ancient Chinese Secret") in his dialogue. The setting also signifies a mixture of Japanese and Chinese cultures.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted somewhat. Punching walls will actually hurt you, and can even kill you. However, punching wooden or straw training dummies somehow restores your health up to 100, like the drinking fountains from Duke Nukem 3D.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Played straight with Lo Wang.
    Lo Wang: Row, row, row your boat! Genterry down da stream!
    • Significantly downplayed in the 2013 reboot. He still has a slight accent, but otherwise speaks perfectly normal English.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The katana, unlike most FPS melee weapons, is incredibly powerful and will kill many enemies in one hit. As ammo went fast, it was necessary to use it most of the time.
  • Killer Rabbit:
    • A secret area has the original Rabbit of Caerbannog, cave and all! All the more devious because every other rabbit in the game is completely harmless, so you may not even realize what is attacking you until it's too late.
    • Another example: You come upon several scantily clad or nude girls. Annoy them and they'll whip out an Uzi.
  • Kill It with Fire: The very tough Guardians can attack Lo Wang with fireballs they shoot from their eyes and have a chance to drop their heads after they die that let's Wang do the same to his foes. See "Off with His Head!" on it's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The last level in the main game, "Stone Rain," takes place in Zilla's Volcano Lair hideout. You fight up a volcanic mountain while dodging fireballs and jumping fissures, before leaping into a hole in the lava lake to enter the secret base itself.
  • Life Meter: Percentage for the player and bars for bosses.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Especially when killing an enemy with explosives.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Orochi Zilla.
  • No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: Not actual cutscenes, but no matter which weapon Lo Wang is holding or whether he has body armour or not, any mirror (and the Chase Viewnote ) will show him bare chested and wielding a single Uzi.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted with the Sumo Demons. See Fartillery above.
  • No Fair Cheating: Cheat codes are disabled in the "No Pain, No Gain" difficulty. Trying to imput a cheat code will not work, unless the player starts a new game in a lower difficulty.
  • No-Gear Level: Perplexingly averted in level 17, where Lo Wang gets captured. You start the game locked in a cell but still have all your weapons and gear, making you wonder how the bad guys got you in your cell without getting killed in the first place.
  • Nuke 'em: The third alternate fire for the missile launcher is a fucking NUKE! It deals massive amounts of damage and has an extremely large blast radius, and finishes off with fallout that sticks around for half a minute and hurts anyone near the epicenter.
  • Off with His Head!: Bizarrely enough, it's a weapon. And a very powerful one at that with 3 fire modes (a rapid-fire stream of fire balls, a floating fireball shield, or fireballs that create pillars of fire) at the cost of only having a small ammo counter of 80 shots, its absurdly fast use of ammo, and the fact it's a random drop from killing the very durable Guardians.
  • Overly Long Scream: If Lo Wang is falling from a dangerous height, he will scream all the way down. Find a pit deep enough and he will actually pause for breath and then continue shouting.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Lo Wang does one in the credits. It's actually made of various voice clips edited together and set to a hip-hop beat, because the voice actor couldn't actually rap at all.
  • Recycled In Space: Shadow Warrior in general is Duke Nukem 3D WITH NINJAS AND ANIME!
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Zilla sends his monsters after Lo Wang after Wang quits the corporation.
  • Secondary Fire: The riot gun, uzi, missile launcher, and guardian head have secondary fire modes, activated by pressing the same weapon select button. The riot gun does a burst, the uzi toggles dual-wield mode, missile launcher supports heat seekers and nukes, and the guardian head has three types of attacks.
  • Secret Level: Two of them, actually.
  • Sequel Hook: Zilla escapes when he loses to Lo Wang.
    Zilla: Damn you, Lo Wang! I will rebuild and come fight you again!
    Lo Wang: You are weak as a baby fart, go live in fear.
  • Shareware: As with most early 90s FPS, Shadow Warrior has a shareware episode. Interesting in that, like Rise of the Triad, the Shareware episode was different from the actual product.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: see Boring, but Practical
  • Shout-Out:
    • A secret area in E1M4 is clearly taken from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, complete with a Killer Rabbit. You can also find Sailor Moon in the crew quarters of a submarine, and you can encounter Lara Croft in a tomb, and Wang says "Be proud, Mr. Woo" when he picks up a second Uzi, among other shout outs.
    • A Speed Racer remote control car in the first level. He even (horribly) sings part of the theme song.
    • One of Lo-Wang's responses to cutting an enemy in half is "There Can Be Only One!"
    • A poster for the Slayers anime with Lina Inverse on it can be found in the game, along with posters for other anime, including something by Masami Obari and what MIGHT be Dirty Pair Flash, although the low resolution makes them hard to make out.
    • Two of the Fanservice naked women greatly resemble Sasami and Ayeka from Tenchi Muyo!
    • A secret area in the third level contains the grave of Jackie Chan. According to the plaque, he slipped in the shower.
    • A military facility in Wanton Destruction houses a W.O.P.R. expy.
    • In the first level, a television set is playing Michael Faye's caning sentence.
    • In the last level, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can be found dead.
    • Level 10 is named "Raider of the Lost Wang".
    • In the beginning of level 12 ("Bath House"), Lo Wang shouts: "Hory cow! Look like Duke Nukem! Hahaha!"
    • When picking up a Railgun, Lo Wang may exclaim: "Time to get erased!" as a reference to Eraser, which popularized said weapon in media.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: The nuke setting on the rocket launcher. Though it's by far the most powerful weapon in the game, such that you generally won't survive the explosion if you can see it happening, a number of the higher-tier enemies can survive it, and some bosses can survive multiples. Its blast radius is closer to "the room you're in" than anything you'd expect of a nuclear weapon.
  • Sociopathic Hero: In the novelizations, Lo Wang will not hesitate to kill most people for the slightest reasons, usually involving matters of the subject's inherent honor. All the more so if they work for Zilla. Something of the opposite of his game iteration, where he specifically left Zilla for killing most people.
  • Soft Water: In Level 3, if Lo Wang falls off the extremely high cliffs, he will die. Unless he falls in water, in which he will take no damage at all.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: Lo Wang thinks this about the boss of the level "Sumo Sky Palace".
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: Aside from the opening cutscene or the closing scenes of each episode, the game is always seen from Lo Wang's perspective.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The Wanton Destruction level "Skyscraper" is impossible to complete (without cheating) on the lower two (out of four) difficulty levels as a mini-boss fails to spawn. Refer also to Game-Breaking Bug, above.
  • Volcano Lair: The final stage, "Stone Rain" has you assault Zilla's base, hidden under a lake of lava in a volcano.
  • Waterfall Shower: Follow the singing to find a woman doing this. But don't stand too close for too long, or your character's pickup lines will lead her to whip out an Uzi.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: At the end of level 16 Lo Wang is teleported into a cell by a trap and has to escape in level 17. The problem: the grate is easily opened so he can escape his cell right away. You also have to wonder why they didn't have a bunch of mooks waiting at the receiving end of the teleporter to all shoot Wang at once while he's in a cell with no room to dodge.
  • Writing Around Trademarks:
    • There are cars named "Titsubishi" in some levels.
    • In a secret room of the first level, news from a TV channel named "GNN" is seen.