Mace: The Dark Age
|Mace: The Dark Age|
Mace: The Dark Age box cover
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Mace: The Dark Age is a fighting video game released by Atari for arcade machines in 1996 and later ported by Midway to the Nintendo 64 in 1997. A PlayStation version of the game was planned but never released.
Story[edit | edit source]
For centuries an impenetrable darkness has shrouded Europe, Arabia, and Asia, with countless victims succumbing to the ravenous hunger of unchecked pestilence and war. In Asia, Khan's ruthless Golden Horde wages a war of terror from the shores of Japan to Europe. In Arabia, the legendary Assassins' Guild asserts a bid for power, toppling sultans and kings. Europe, once a promising glimpse of humanity's potential, has become a well of despair under the despotic rule of a handful of feudal lords.
Many great kingdoms have been devastated, but a few have grown more powerful. These comprise the Covenant of Seven - lords who have allied with Asmodeus, a practitioner of the dark arts who wields the fabled Mace of Tanis. The Mace is imbued with necropotic energy, offering those who wield it a tantalizing promise of ever-lasting life and unbridled power. With this power comes a terrible price: Asmodeus must feed off despair, disease, and poverty. In limited doses, Asmodeus grants the Seven the power they need and crave. In return, they expand their kingdoms with bloody battles and torment their peasants. But Europe can no longer sustain Asmodeus' ravenous appetite. He now reaches East into the Orient, to find new lords who yearn to sample the dark powers.
But there is rebellion. Each of the Seven, addicted to the corrupting power of the Mace, dispatch their best warriors to kill Asmodeus and steal his power. Leaders from the East sense Asmodeus' plottings and strive to destroy him before it's too late. Heirs to kingdoms long since vanquished seek revenge on Asmodeus and those who wield the dark energy. They are the fiercest fighters on Earth, and they all have one thing in common: they each must possess the Mace.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
Like in Mortal Kombat, when a character wins both rounds, they can perform an execution move on the enemy. Methods included severing an opponents limbs and torso (Al Rashid), beheading (The Executioner), repeated stabbing (Koyasha), impaling the opponent with a sword (Lord Deimos), breaking an opponent's back by hoisting them on top of a Viking helmet and throwing them to the ground, causing their body to explode (Ragnar), and some more far-fetched methods including pulling out an opponent's heart (Xiao Long), shrinking (Namira), transforming the opponent into a chicken (Taria), and entering an opponent's body and bursting them from inside (Dregan).
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Al' Rashid: The master assassin of the Desert Wind, hired by one of the Seven to bring back the Mace of Tanis.
- Mordos Kull: A legendary mercenary who spent his orphaned youth thinking of revenge against the Seven for killing his family.
- Koyasha: A kunoichi seeking to kill Asmodeus and test her skills as a master of the art of ninjitsu.
- Lord Deimos: Hundreds of years old, Deimos rules his people with an iron fist. A member of the Covenant of Seven, he seeks to usurp power to expand his kingdom.
- Namira: The lost princess of Tulwara turned vengeful harem girl, Namira mastered the deadly art of scimitar fighting from a court eunuch.
- Ragnar Bloodaxe: The Prince of Torsgard, his village was destroyed by the power-hungry Deimos. He seeks revenge and hopes the Mace can restore his beloved land.
- Takeshi Tsunami: A noble samurai and son of the Japanese emperor, Takeshi has been trusted to prevent the evil power of the Seven from spreading to Japan. He also seeks his lost brother Ichiro.
- Taria de Castillo: An evil sorceress and the daughter of one of the Covenant of Seven. She aspires to become a demoness and conquer hell itself.
- The Executioner: A freelance torturer who seeks the ultimate power for himself, and a new weapon to inflict pain with.
- Xiao Long: Disowned and blinded by his father, Xiao was raised by monks and taught to master the Spirit Sense. He vows to destroy evil in all forms, beginning with the Mace.
Secret characters[edit | edit source]
- Asmodeus: Only playable through a cheat cartridge. He's the final boss which other characters must defeat, in order to claim the Mace of Tanis.
- Grendal: A tormented soul trapped in the body of an obsidian gargoyle, Grendal is forced to do the bidding of Asmodeus.
- Ned the Janitor: The Janitor has been sent back in time to kick ass. He replaces Xiao Long on the character select screen through a cheat code.
- Ichiro Tsunami: A corrupted samurai looking to take his father's throne in Japan and destroy his brother Takeshi.
- Pojo: The Fighting Chicken, transformed by Countess Taria into something more than human, a force powerful enough to rend the very cosmos in her powerful beak. Pojo wages a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the feathered way.
- Spanky: A dummy used for practice.
- Warmech: Gar Gudrunson, master craftsman of the dwarves, pilots a mighty machine built to fight for his people against the tyrannical rule of Lord Deimos.
- Hell Knight: Unlocked on the N64 by default and is a time-bomb release character in the arcade. A minor demon sent to kill Asmodeus and return the Mace of Tanis back to Hell.
- Sir Dregan: Unlocked on the N64 by default and is a time-bomb release character in the arcade. An undead Crusader and member of the Covenant of Seven, he has turned his back on Asmodeus to learn the whereabouts of his lost soul.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Mace: The Dark Age was praised mainly because of its graphics. It was also noted for stage interactions with things such as water, and damaging areas such as lava.
Though Mace had stunning graphics, the gameplay itself was not without its critics. Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot said Mace "looked fantastic but still played poorly." Critics also said the combos and attacks were very unimpressive, and unoriginal. On average, Mace: The Dark Age only got middling reviews, but some critics, namely IGN and GamePro magazine, gave it credit as the best N64 fighting game at the time of its release, though openly acknowledging that the pool of good fighting games available for the N64 at the time was quite shallow.