For centuries an impenetrable
darkness has shrouded Europe, Arabia, and Asia, with countless victims
succumbing to the ravenous hunger of unchecked pestilence and war. In Asia,
Khan's ruthless Golden Horde wages a war of terror from the shores of Japan to
Europe. In Arabia, the legendary Assassins' Guild asserts a bid for power,
toppling sultans and kings. Europe, once a promising glimpse of humanity's
potential, has become a well of despair under the despotic rule of a handful of
Many great kingdoms have been devastated, but a
few have grown more powerful. These comprise the Covenant of Seven - lords who
have allied with Asmodeus, a practitioner of the dark arts who wields the fabled
Mace of Tanis. The Mace is imbued with necropotic energy, offering those who
wield it a tantalizing promise of ever-lasting life and unbridled power. With
this power comes a terrible price: Asmodeus must feed off despair, disease, and
poverty. In limited doses, Asmodeus grants the Seven the power they need and
crave. In return, they expand their kingdoms with bloody battles and torment
their peasants. But Europe can no longer sustain Asmodeus' ravenous appetite. He
now reaches East into the Orient, to find new lords who yearn to sample the dark
But there is rebellion. Each of the Seven,
addicted to the corrupting power of the Mace, dispatch their best warriors to
kill Asmodeus and steal his power. Leaders from the East sense Asmodeus'
plottings and strive to destroy him before it's too late. Heirs to kingdoms long
since vanquished seek revenge on Asmodeus and those who wield the dark energy.
They are the fiercest fighters on Earth, and they all have one thing in common:
they each must possess the Mace.
Most of your medieval
archetypes are present.
Mace: The Dark Age
is a 3D weapon based fighter featuring 16
medieval-inspired characters (plus a few secret ones) and
also some pretty sleek visuals for the time. The fully 3D-rendered stages offer some
nice eye-candy, but also effect the gameplay, as fighters can interact with and
even become damaged by the environment. Hazards like hot lava,
acid pools, swinging razor pendulums, and giant spikes
will deal damage to the fighters if they come in contact.
Besides the environmental interaction, Mace is a fairly
straight forward and traditional-style 3D fighting game. Each fighter can
perform a number of priority moves & key combos, as well as special moves,
including projectiles... which weren't usually seen in most 3D fighting
games of the era. Mace's character roster is comparable to Soul Edge,
featuring skilled weapon-users from across the globe. Whether it's the samurai,
the viking, the monk, the knight, or the undead warrior... Mace has
pretty much all the bases covered.
The character movesets aren't as deep as one might hope for,
but characters do manage to stand out from one another and have a respectable variety of
attacks. Some of the unlockable characters may seem like "palette
swaps" at first, but fight uniquely for the most part! Each fighter also has their own brutal, and usually gory finishing move (AKA executions) which aren't unlike those found in the Mortal
Kombat series. Worth mentioning, most of the finishing moves were executed
considerably well in terms of animation.... Pun
Mace: The Dark Age brought
the "dark & gritty" to the fighting genre.
Like most mid 90's 3D fighting games, most of the
fighting in Mace is done on a 2D plane. However, a sidestep maneuver can be performed
and used to dodge projectiles and the like. Though the game is definitely playable, the controls
are also a bit clunky when compared to other fighting games. Jumping
in particular could've looked and felt a lot smoother. Characters also feel a bit
too "heavy" to move around (I guess it's all that armor).
The animation of Mace: The Dark Age is pretty good at times, though a bit sluggish & choppy
in other instances.
Some moves had that ouch factor, some didn't... definitely a mixed bag. The
cool, original setting and generic-yet-interesting character designs were probably the main draw of the game (besides the blood
& gore). The soundtrack and sound effects complimented the game pretty
well at the time (though that announcer's voice is pretty laughable by today's standards).
Mace was a respectable & bold effort of a 3D fighting game in 1996,
and the arcade cabinet was also eye-catching for the time. Considering its tough
competition in 1996, Mace held up fairly well and managed to stand on its own as
a unique fighting game.
The N64 port was one
of the best fighting games, if not the best fighting game on the
N64 at the time of it' debut (which isn't saying much, but hey).
I have to admit I put some quality hours into the N64 version back in the day,
and did get quite a bit enjoyment out of it with some friends.
Overlooking the slightly
clunky gameplay, I thought Mace had some pretty entertaining characters. The
variety of secret characters also added some personality to the game,
which included a dwarf-controlled mech made out of barrels and a chicken... that
could kill you.
Mace wasn't exactly revolutionary to the fighting genre, but was a
respectable early 3D fighting game that showed some heart. ~TFG