Eternal Champions poster
Sega Genesis (1993)
Sega's answer to the 90's Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II craze was released in the United States 30 years ago today.
I played Eternal Champions a lot when I was in middle school, and I wanted to like it, but the controls were very stiff which made it frustrating to play. However, what this game lacked in gameplay, it made up for with an excellent story with interesting characters that kept me coming back.
The story of Eternal Champions is that human beings are on the verge of extinction. A god-like character has identified nine people from across history whose contributions could have had a ripple effect that would have saved the human race, but they were killed before they were able to do so. These characters include a caveman (50,000 BC), a gladiator from Atlantis (110 BC), an alchemist (1692), a circus performer (1899), a mobster (1920), a chemist (1967), an assassin (1993), a bounty hunter (2030) and a kickboxer (2345). The god-like character only has the power to allow one of them to return to their timeline and cheat death, and he has created a tournament in another realm where these characters will fight to determine which of them will be given that opportunity.
The 13-year-old me kept playing this game because I wanted to see how the story would end for each of the characters, but it's such a frustrating experience that I'd only play for short bursts at a time before getting tired of it. I was eventually able to unlock all of the endings with the help of a Game Genie, which is a less than satisfying experience. Truth be told, I found that reading the character profiles in the instruction manual was more fun than the game itself. I've always hoped to see someone take this property and remake it into a more enjoyable video game, but the closest we ever got was a 1995 Sega CD adaptation that added more characters and plot points, but it didn't do much to improve the clunky gameplay.
Despite its flaws, I still look back fondly at this game, but it could have been so much better.