Way of the Warrior, a fighting game for the failed 3DO – developed by then largely unknown developer Naughty Dog of Crash Bandicoot fame – was and always will stand as one of the worst/best games of all time. Exuding a sheer badness that would make most fighting games laughable at best, Way of the Warrior broke through that terrible fighting engine with charisma and insanity that simply cannot be denied. In essence, Way of the Warrior didn’t succeed because it was a solid fighter. Jesus no. Way of the Warrior succeeded simply because it is as cheesy and incomprehensible as a badly dubbed Kung Fu movie at 3 in the morning on public access TV. If you need any further proof, then just go ahead and watch the video below.
Understand now? Good.
To talk about the actual fighting engine used in Way of the Warrior would be a total waste of time. In short, it’s terrible. Fighters jump miles through the air, hits barely register, and if you could pull off a combo without saying it was an accident then you have played this game in a way it was never meant to be played. One thing of particular note though, is that Way of the Warrior featured “magic spells” that were shared among all characters. These allowed you to do such Mario Kart motherfucker shit like shrink your opponent, make the screen go crazy, or generally just make the second player garner an amazing hatred for you since using any of these magic spells basically broke the game balance-wise. Or better yet, just use them to break the game completely by freezing your 3DO, which they were known to do. Totally awesome. While bringing Mario Kart weapons into a fighting game was a novel idea, it was executed with no real regard to the consequences. Like having your friend punch you in the face after you shrunk him to the size of a nickel, causing him to fall off the stage.
Where Way of the Warrior deserves its place in history though, is its total lack of anything that makes sense. A cast of characters – looking more like a 10 year-old kid’s wish list of things they’d like to be when they grow up to fight crime – would fight it out in a series of arenas that may or may not have been anything more substantial than one of the guys at Naughty Dog saying “Yeah that could be cool” while at lunch.
The plot… I don’t even think I could do it justice. Rest assured it involved a green Raptor sitting on a throne with a crystal ball. Also there was a giant skeleton called Krull that would beat you into submission with a giant meat cleaver. I can barely fathom what I just typed. Just convince yourself it’s awesome and go with that. You really have no other choice.
Rounding it out, the game came full to the gills with at least six million character fatalities, comically bad stage fatalities, gallons of blood, and Rob Zombie blaring the same four songs over and over in the background. It was such a sensory overload of insanity that it actually made many people believe the game was a solid fighting game. While I’m going anywhere near that, I can say with certainty that Way of the Warrior will be remembered by the majority of people for how quality of a game it was. No, it will simply be remembered because it was so crazy that it will never allow you to forget it.
It was so bad, it became its own legend.
And in the end, I think Naughty Dog would consider that the best compliment you could give it.
Jeremy is a quiet, steadily mortified man hailing from Indianapolis.
Contact him this way: firstname.lastname@example.org (hint: it’s email)