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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews the epic failure that was Daikatana.

TranscriptEdit

Let's all laugh at an industry that never learns anything, tee, hee, hee.

Zero Punctuations’ Occasional Guide to retarded Special Moments in Gaming HistoryEdit

So in our first installment of the Zero Punctuation Guide to Retarded Moments in Retarded Retards, we discovered why, if the future of your company depends on the success of a game, you should maybe spend more than five weeks on it and don't build it out of LEGO. This week, we're going to turn to the opposite site of the same coin.

We know what happens when the publisher shits the bed, but what about when the developer earns the displeasure of the hotel chambermaid? When they are given too much development time as opposed to too little, as the publisher comforts themselves with the knowledge that even Stanley Kubrick once took 170 takes to the same scene; willfully ignoring the fact that, while Stanley Kubrick was a flighty, auteur genius, the same behavior pattern could easily be displayed by an incompetent spod with no planning skills and an indirectly proportional ego.

I speak of one the most notorious disappointments in the entire history of first person shooters. "Jesus Christ, Yahtzee, how many videos you gonna do on Duke Nukem Forever?" No, you twat, the other one!

Die, KatanaEdit

I was slightly surprised to find Daikatana available on Steam, but even more so by the feature list: "25 glorious weapons to collect and utilize", "Two highly-trained sidekicks to watch your back." I'd have said it was being sarcastic if I thought publishers had any self-awareness at all. But, realistically, everyone knows that its infamous reputation is the only reason this game is on Steam, and the blurb should have read, "Roll up, roll up, everyone come and see the freak!"

I was surprised that the Steam version seemed to run alright, as on launch the game was notorious for running horribly with many issues, like a paper boy with polio. But I guess some things got fixed in post. For one thing, there is an option to disable the "limited save gem" system, although sadly not one to make it tear itself from the game and commit seppuku on your living room floor. Anyway, I started the game and it opens with a suffocatingly boring intro cinematic written by a real go-getter, who refused to let his obvious ineptitude at writing stories get in the way of writing a huge pile of story that is now gonna get shoved in your face like an ether-soaked rag.

I die a lot in Daikatana - or should I say "John Romero makes me his bitch a lot" - but on only about 50% of those deaths was I completely certain of what it was that had killed me. And most of those 'cause it had been my own weapon. There seem to be even odds whether or not an explosive weapon will blow up in your face with every use, and the last weapon you find in the first chapter is some kind of bouncing death sphere that might as well rename the "fire" button to "immediately destroy self". And when weapons aren't actively plotting against you, they're just mystifyingly awkward to use. Under what circumstances could anyone need a shotgun that fires six times with every use, other than being an American police officer?

And as for our "highly-trained" sidekicks, they're only "highly-trained" by the standards of sea monkeys. Every level exit obstinately folds its arms and blocks you until you have both NPCs with you. And chances are good they will be three rooms back frantically sprinting into a wall or, more likely, each other, until you have to start manually guiding them along the hallways with a fucking snow shovel.

So the game's shit, but you knew that already. The rich, creamy brownness of its shit was the perfect fall to end a story about pride. John Romero was the auteur golden boy behind Daikatana - as should be well known by all the people who are now his bitch - formerly of id Software, who got his new studio off the ground, basically it seems, by saying, "Hello, I made Doom and Quake," and then rubbing his thumbs and forefingers together. And so he declared his intention to realize his brilliant ideas, unhampered by all those lame sensible people with their "logic" and "humility" and "realistic estimates of time management."

He planned out an epic adventure set over four time periods dripping with a huge variety of monsters and weapons like his hair-do drips styling product, and declared it would be done in seven months, at which point Id collectively rolled its eyes, did a little finger-gun gesture next to its temple, and released Quake 2, a game that's about as much fun as inspecting an architectural plan through a brown Quality Street wrapper, but which was the cutting edge of tech at the time, and clearly nothing else would do for Romero's big, hungry baby. See, that's the trouble with the cutting edge: it's hard to stay on, 'cause it's very thin and it keeps moving as it hacks at your balls.

Seven months turned into three years, but, while that could be forgiven, the key word of the whole debacle was "hubris." Romero had a vision for designer-centric development, noble in itself, but queered by an ideal of a rock-star developer image, publicly blowing money on penthouse studios and flamboyant lifestyles. But a rock star is obliged only to write some good tunes, sweat on some people, and coke themselves off their balls. Developing a game, it turns out, is actually quite hard.

As negative press grew and grew concerning nepotism and mass resignations, and full page magazine ads informed a restless gaming public that they were John Romero's cellmate and he'd claimed the top bunk, as it were, outright hostility was brewing. At this point, the universe takes two paths: one in which Romero spearheads a bold, artistic movement in game design as a misunderstood genius, burdened with the egotism that often strikes the auteur; or Romero is forever lambasted as a boob so massive that even the most determined baby would struggle to get its gob around it. And which universe we ended up with hinged on one thing: Daikatana not being a pile of execrable garbage. Better luck next time, universe!

The Lessons Nobody LearnedEdit

Today's faceless AAA industry rarely indulges auteurism, as throwing babies out with bath water is now so routine for big business that the babies have formed their own society in the outflow pipe. But Romero's vision also gave us Deus Ex, from the division of Ion Storm run by people who knew what the fuck they were doing.

What the modern industry certainly hasn't learned from the Daikatana fable is not to regard its audience with absolute giggling contempt. And as the same trollop is brought out year after year, contempt is virtually the industry standard.

But there was something morbidly satisfying about Daikatana being shit. It was a modern-day Icarus flight, pulling a big ego back to earth. Today, as long as the publisher bombards us with enough prerendered teasers, mocked-up gameplay videos, little white lies and big black stodgy ones to move enough units on launch day, then they have the luxury of immediately not having to give a shit what we think. And that shows far more hubris than declaring bitches and the making thereof. At least that acknowledged that we are human beings. Human beings with very enticing buttholes.

AddendaEdit

  • Bye, Katana: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • And remind us how long you've been working on The Consuming Shadow, Yahtzee mate.
  • Ha ha ha, we used to think three years was a long time.

ScreenshotsEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5

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