STORY: Nine fighters
throughout history have met untimely and unjust deaths. They now compete
against each other for a chance to face the "Eternal Champion" and reclaim
their souls. The victor will return to Earth with the chance to avenge
his or her own death and restore balance to the universe.
Champions was the first 2D fighting game from Sega, and one of the more
popular titles to come out for the Sega Genesis. Nostalgic as it may be, Eternal
Champions is definitely guilty for riding the
coattails of hit arcade fighting games like of Street
Fighter II (1991), Fatal Fury (1991) and Mortal
Kombat (1992). The game's main draw was a cast of oddball characters,
stage-specific gory finishing moves called "overkills," and the fact
that it was a console exclusive fighting game when it launched (a very rare occurrence
at the time).
First of all,
Champions was a console fighting game on the 16-bit Genesis, so
it obviously didn't have the graphical prowess or popularity to compete with the top fighting games
you'd find in 1993 arcades. Not only were the visuals lacking... but the gameplay was super clunky,
especially to anyone who had ever played any of the fighting games mentioned in
the last paragraph. The animation found in Eternal Champions was also below
below average and quite choppy... most character priority moves
are no more than 2 frames (sometimes less). The only animation that the
designers seemed to care about was in the disturbingly gory finishing moves.
It's obvious that they spent eons more time creating those twisted scenes of
death than on the game itself.
playing.... what? I
can't read that.
The most original gameplay aspect
of Eternal Champions is that characters have a special
attack meter, which decreases over time as special
moves/projectiles are performed. Special moves are done by either pressing multiple buttons
together or holding back or down to charge. Different special attacks decrease the meter
by different amounts. Due to the meter, special attacks can't be abused,
because you have to wait for the "inner-strength meter" to refill every
time you perform two or three special moves in succession. It was a decent
idea for a gameplay element, but I think most fighting game players didn't
like the fact that they couldn't perform special moves at will, like they could
in every other fighting game out there. I'm sure players in the
90's who got their ass kicked in SF2 and MK2 frequently loved the
FUN FACTS: Very soon after the original 1993 release, two
Eternal Champions "adventure gamebooks" were released by Puffin
books. Like in any nerdy 90's adventure book, the reader controls the fate of
the main character, or in this case "champion," traveling through time
to assist the protagonists fight against a megalomaniacal artificial
intelligence called the Overlord and ultimately change the course of history.
Eternal Champions also
had a comic-adaptation (by UK Sega Magazine's Sonic the Comic) as a
stand-alone magazine titled Eternal Champions Special. The main
protagonists also appeared in two stories in the Sonic the Comic series.
In the stories, Larcen Tyler returns to 1920s Chicago and works with Shadow
Yamoto to take down the crime boss who killed him. Check below for some images
of these comics.
Christopher Warner (director)
Genesis / Megadrive, Sega CD, Wii Virtual Console
One can't deny Eternal Champions a "classic" console fighter, but time has not been
particularly kind to this title. As a young Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat fan in
1993, I knew Eternal
Champions was just a big, fat, ugly rip-off.
Even with the hype of
this game that popped up here or there, I found absolutely nothing to like about
the game. I particularly remember despising the
choppy animation and terrible pixilated graphics (I swear could draw better
characters on my computer's generic paint program when I was 9 years old). I also concluded
that this game would make me worse at SF2, because the gameplay
was so crappy. Seriously, this game makes World Heroes
look good.... Wow.
I also hated
the character designs (and still do). I remember watching some
kids playing Eternal Champions in 1993 at some game store back
in the day (Babbage's I think), and they were acting like it was the best
thing ever. It pissed me off to see people actually enjoying this game,
because it was simply rubbish compared to the fighting
games downstairs at the arcade.
I don't know about you...
but in 1993, I was playing Super Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat 2
and Samurai Shodown. All 3 of those games made Eternal Champions
look like a silly kids game. In
fairness, as a Sega Genesis exclusive, I do realize Eternal
Champions developed a small fan base and probably brings back nostalgia for
some people, but that doesn't change the fact that the game is pure shit.... It really
Champions is indeed guilty of attempting to mooch off of the success of
SF2, as well as MK's "shock value" by throwing in
some blood and gore. It was as if the designers thought "who cares how
the game plays, kids will love the blood and guts!" Well, I was 10 years old
in 1993 and I didn't fall for that shit.
I just couldn't get past the terrible graphics, lame
and clunky-ass controls... and damn, it's still one of the ugliest fighting games
in existence. It's true that I neglected putting Eternal Champions on
the site for a long time, and that was simply due to the fact that pretty much everything about
the game makes
me want to throw up. ~TFG