Review by gamer8r
Reviewed: 08/08/05 | Updated: 05/26/06
Just in case you had any doubt that EA was evil...
Just about every console has at least one game that should have never even been planned, let alone programmed. Superman 64 on the N64 is a great example, just like Action 52 and Cheetahmen for the NES. And Sword of Sodan.
I was looking for a mildly, cheap hack n slash to keep me occupied, and I figured "Why not that Sword of Sodan game on the Genesis?" Yeah, it looked like some kind of side-scrolling Gauntlet, (Midway, let me apoligize for using the Gauntlet name in the same sentence as anything relating to Sword of Sodan. I won't let it happen again.) so try to imagine my horror when I found out that not only was the cartridge not only lacking the mild fun I was looking for, it was also lacking a game.
The game is hard, but not in the "Oh wait, one more try" way that Shadowgate games manage to be. The game is hard to beat, yes, but it's also hard to play for more than five seconds without suffering massive brain damage. Almost as much brain damage as the person who programmed this piece of concentrated boredom.
When you start up the game and see the cool title screen and cool theme music you'll think "Wow, this might manage to be cool," kind of like watching the really exciting trailer to a movie. Then you leave the title screen, and find out that every good part in that 2-hour movie was shown in that 15 second trailer. You start by picking your character, either "Man who might have had a name but I'm not starting up the game again to find out" or "Woman who might have a name but nobody cares" The whole point of the game is to sidescroll, killing enemies as you go (pretty much your average side-scroller stuff), but somehow they manage to make it suck. Enemies limp on screen from in front and behind you (even though you already killed the enemies behind you when you passed that spot) and start attacking and making amazingly horrible dog/pig noises. You can fight them, but they're about as strong as you are, so you'll have a hard time killing them, and since your barbarian has the turning radius of a tractor trailer you'll be dead before you can deal with the enemies on the other side of you.
Then there's this collision detection. You'll find out about it when you realize you spent $2 on this game and your head collides with the cinderblock you paid some kid to throw at you as punishment. You won't find it in the game though.
Each level is so painfully short that Mario could go through them in about 5 seconds, and since making longer levels would take effort the good people at EA had to do something easy to make the game have some length (like an hour). The following recording shows exactly how that was accomplished.
EA Executive: All right, what's the cheapest way to make walking ten feet take five minutes? And hurry up, we've got franchises to kill!
Lone Programmer: I'm late for Preschool!
EA Executive: I know, make the characters walk so mind-numbingly slowly that you can hardly tell that they're moving!
Lone Programmer: Yay! I don't know how to program though!
EA Executive: That's okay, just puke in the Genesis dev kit, that'll work just as good as programming!
The woman limps along like she's got a broken leg and the man shuffles like he's just learning how to walk. It takes anywhere from 1-3 seconds for your stupid limping warrior to realize what you're telling him/her to do and do it, and by that time you've lost half your health to the equally slow and shuffling enemies. To turn around you've got to hold down a button and push back (Just pushing backward makes you walk backwards right into the oncoming army, what fun!)and then you slowly turn, and by now there are enemies on the other side of you again and they're attacking you and... Yeah, you get my point. The controls are as broken as your head will be when you smash it through a wall because it's more fun than Sword of Sodan.
Somewhere along the line they decided it'd be fun to add some pits in the ground and spikes that rise out of the floor because there isn't already enough stuff to kill you. Don't worry though, the game constantly warns you "Watch out for spikes," which is actually pretty helpful because I'm as dumb as the people who made this game and so I started it thinking that being impaled by a spike would give me money.
The music in the intro was good, but once you start fighting the music stops, only to be replaced by a lovely track of chirping birds. Soundtracks of background noise and no music worked in Geneforge worked, probably because the background sounds actually fit in with the surroundings (like the sound of little kids playing in a friendly town). I don't think there were many zombified chickadees in Barbarian times, so it somehow doesn't have the same effect. I guess the reasoning behind it went something like this:
Composer: Hey, I just made a soundtrack for that game you're making, Sword of Sodan! Here, listen... *awesome soundtrack plays*
EA Executive: No, you see, kids don't want to hear music in violent action games. What they want to hear is a bird chirping. I was playing Mortal Kombat the other day, and I thought "Wow, I'd like to listen to some freaking random ANIMAL NOISES instead of MUSIC!!!
Oh, and the sound effects!! How great, the language in the game is made up entirely of Grunts. "Eeeh eeh eeh eeh eeh eeh" means something in that world, I'm telling you! That's the only explanation, I know for a fact it wasn't just programmers who were too lazy to add more than one sound effect!
I don't know the story, but I can tell from the semi-well written poems at the beginning of each world that you're trying to break into a castle and beat up some wizard who's name I don't know. As for the Sword of Sodan, the name doesn't even sound remotely cool, and there's no sword of Sodan in the game, so I've come to the conclusion that everybody involved in the making of this game is an idiot. That's it.
The sprites are big and detailed, but the animation is terrible. There are about 3 frames of animation for each person. When enemies poke you with their spears, their arms snap out and back again with no movement at all, and when you kill them they snap into the laying down position (and start to bleed massive amounts of the most unrealistic blood I've ever seen)
r8ing: Hang on, let me surgically remove the part of my brain with the memory of this game in it...
Buy/rent: If you can find it cheap and have a sick, sick sense of humor (like the kind where you don't see anything wrong with torturing babies while drinking blood and then not killing Paris Hilton.) Buy it for laughs (it is kind of funny to watch) but don't spend any real amount of money on it.
Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
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