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Retro Game of the Week: Eternal Champions

On 05/10/2014 at 10:39 AM by The Last Ninja

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An interesting story and bizarre characters inhabit this cult classic Genesis fighter

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Eternal Champions is a fighting game exlusively for the Sega Genesis. Developed and published by Sega Interactive, it was released in 1993. Unlike mostly all the fighters of the day, EC was made from the ground up for the Genesis; it's not an arcade port. It's gone down in history as one of the Genesis's most famous games, but the question is, does it hold up well today? Well I did enjoy some aspects of it, but the main gameplay leaves a lot to be desired.

The story is actually pretty cool. An omniscient being called The Eternal Champion has pulled nine individuals from different times of history in order to try and prevent the world from falling to ruin. Each of these individuals died in their time, but whoever can win in a fighting tournament will be granted his life just moments before his death so he can change the course of history. This is the main story; each fighter has a biography, which I'll address a little later.

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The main menu has One Player, Information, and Options. Under One Player, you have Fight, Battle Room, and Training Mode. Under Fight, you can choose either Practice or Enter Contest, which is the main game. If you go to Information, you can look at Character Biographies, Storyline, and Credits. Options lets you configure buttons and check out the Sound Test and the SFX Test. No game would be complete without a Sound Test.

The biggest problem in the game is the fighting itself. The CPU tends to block most of your attacks, even if you attack them very quickly and suddenly. It's hard just to hit them! Combos are difficult to figure out; I couldn't seem to get any despite my attempts at several different button combinations. I also couldn't get a good handle on any of the characters; I tried everyone, yet I didn't feel comfortable using any of them. The game is tough (like most fighting games, in my opinion); I couldn't get very far in the tournament.

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The fighters are large and detailed, but their design is very loud and 90s, if you know what I mean. Certain fighters, such as Shadow and Midknight, can double jump while in the air. Fighters will also taunt by saying random words such as "freak" or "pig." However, I couldn't figure out how to taunt (perhaps only the CPU can do it, but that would be dumb). One terrible mistake is the fact that you cannot pause during a fight! Perhaps they simply overlooked it, but that's a standard video game thing which sould never be overlooked.

Each character is unique in their fighting style and speed. Everything seems balanced well except for Jetta: she moves at an abnormally fast speed, which feels cheap. The backgrounds are good for the most part. They range from different periods of time, such as a prehistoric landscape for Slash (a caveman), to 1920s Chicago, to a futuristic setting. My favorite background was Xavier's, which is a creepy location set at night, the setting being Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials. It's very creepy.

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The character biographies are very cool, giving information about each individual's fighting style and backstory. I'm assuming all the fighting styles are real, although the one for Slash is Pain--anything that induces pain--which is funny. Some of the stories are very interesting, such as Trident's, in which they explain how Atlantis sunk into the ocean, or Midknight's, in which they tell you how he became a vampire. The stories explain how each character dies (remember, if they win in the contest, they get to live again). I certainly enjoyed reading the biographies, making this my favorite part of the game (is that sad?).

Outside the main game (the contest), there's actually a lot to do. Training Mode offers three games: Dexterity Spheres (in which you attack small spheres that fly at you), Holo-Trainer (you fight a hologram of an opponent of your choosing), and Practice Sphere (where you attack larger spheres). Battle Room is another mode you can play in which you set traps in a special fighting room. It's strange because you get to choose which traps to set ahead of time, but pressing the button will assign them randomly, so you actually don't have much say in which traps are set. Still, it's a neat idea, it just isn't implemented well.

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Final Verdict--3 Stars: It's Okay

While EC is a neat game with some cool characters and backstories, the actual fighting part is disappointing. While the controls are intuitive, learning combos and moves is difficult, and making progress in the game will take serious determination. It's nowhere near as fun and satisfying as Street Fighter II. Still, it's a unique fighting game that you can only play on the Genesis, and for that it gets some points. It's also two player, of course, so you can enjoy it with a friend, but that's the most enjoyment you'll probably get from it. While the characters and story are neat, the fighting leaves much to be desired.

Join me every Saturday as we take a look back at all kinds of retro games, good and bad.




05/10/2014 at 04:31 PM

I usually love the art styles in a lot of these fighting games, but then I never play them. I should give one a spin sometime.

The Last Ninja

05/10/2014 at 05:39 PM

When you say "these fighting games," are you referring to oldschool fighters, or just any fighting game? I'll admit, the characters in EC are pretty cool (for the most part). The characters of Street Fighter II are iconic and incredibly distinct from each other. Honestly, I'm not a fighting game-type guy, but I do enjoy picking them up and trying them out every now and then.


05/11/2014 at 07:13 PM

I guess I mean 2D fighters like Darkstalkers.


05/10/2014 at 08:19 PM

Cool. Eternal Champions was high on my list of games to try. That is a cool story idea though.

The Last Ninja

05/10/2014 at 11:50 PM

Yeah, I really like the story. All the individual backstories are good too.


05/10/2014 at 08:51 PM

I never liked Eternal Champions.  I tried it several times.  I just couldn't get into it.

The Last Ninja

05/10/2014 at 11:51 PM

It's one of those games you try, being hopeful, but after many attempts and frustrations, set it down and say, "Forget it!" I totally get ya'. It's not the best fighting game, but it has its place.

Cary Woodham

05/10/2014 at 11:14 PM

I never played this one until I got one of those 50 games in one Genesis consoles and it was on there.  Eternal Champions played to the Genesis' strengths instead of trying to be like an arcade game, which was good.  But like many old school fighters, it was slower, clunkier, and much harder than today's brawlers.  It did have some cool characters, though.  I liked the circus lady.

The Last Ninja

05/10/2014 at 11:52 PM

The characters and backstories are the best part, the fighting. . . not so much.

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

05/12/2014 at 09:17 AM

Aw snap! Eternal Champions!! I haven't seen that game cover in sooo long.  But it brings back instant memories of elementary school.

The Last Ninja

05/12/2014 at 11:40 AM

Elementary school would be the perfect time to play this game. From that viewpoint, this game would be awesome and fun (most things were at that age).


05/15/2014 at 03:39 PM

I don't understand the reasoning behind not letting you pause mid-fight, I'd understand if it was an arcade port but since it was made for the Genesis it's a little confusing.

The Last Ninja

05/15/2014 at 06:15 PM

It's a terrible oversight (if that's what it was). Really there's no excuse for it.

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