Game: John Romero's Daikatana
Release Date (Windows): May 23th, 2000
Release Date (Mac OS): n/a
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WineHQ AppDB entry: Click Here
IMG Review: n/a
Test Platform: MacBook Air (Late-2010; GeForce 320M, 10.9.5, CX 14)
Life is full of disappointments. In your teenage years, the tantalizing promise of what you saw within the forbidden zone of "adult stuff" lay just beyond your grasp. In your desire to taste the forbidden fruit of what you could not have, you eagerly awaited the opportunity to partake in all of it...
...and that was when you realized that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. You didn't think that getting drunk at the party on Sunday would leave you wrecked and hungover for work on Monday morning. You didn't realize that cigarette smoking would seep into every pore of your body and pollute it, like microtransactions in a free-to-play iOS game. And, you also certainly didn't plan on that little dalliance with that pretty girl leading up to regular diaper changes, a mortgage, and a college fund.
From Y2K, to the 2012 "Mayan Prophecy", to "Star Wars: Episode I", there are many examples in our lives of things that never could live up to the hype, no matter how hard people tried to believe the contrary. In the end, all of those built-up expectations would end up leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of all but the most apologetic of fanboys. Gearbox Software, Blizzard, and EA are our latest object lessons in this principle, with their recent high profile game releases almost reading like a Greatest Hits album of gaming disappointments: Diablo III. Duke Nukem Forever. Dragon Age II and Mass Effect III. Aliens: Colonial Marines. Go back further and you will find a littany of games that were brought low more by high expectations than any deficiencies of their own (Oni and the sad story of Bungie West being one such sore spot for gamers who followed its development story).
However, out of all of these games, one stands alone. Truly apart in a league of its own, the very utterance of its name still brings out violent emotional responses from those old enough to remember the trauma that it caused. To others, it elicits a joke seemingly as lame and as tired as the game itself. To me though, it's not this particular game's name that have been immortalized in gaming history, but a single ad that promoted it, with an eight-word slogan, and a three-word byline.
SUCK IT DOWN
I once told a friend about this when we talked briefly about the history of video game marketing; she hadn't heard of this game, nor of the advertisement that would seemingly change the way we thought of video game marketing forever, but when I did, she didn't believe that it was actually a true story. For a lot of people - especially John Romero himself - they likely didn't believe it was true either. The infamous story of this game's genesis took so many convoluted and excessive twists and turns, that it almost feels like it came right out of a Douglas Coupland novel. Or a comic book.
To Mac gamers, this game, at the height of its fame, must have looked at first to be yet another drool-worthy game that would forever lie out of their grasp. It was only much later, after its release, that its follies would become all too apparent. A MacAddict issue from the period stated that Ion Storm did have plans to port it to the Mac at a later date. Was the news received with joy and excitement? To date, this game is likely the first and only Windows game to have created an online petition urging against it being ported to the Mac.
What more can be said about this game, that hasn't been said already? Like a distant relationship gone bad, it almost seems like there's nothing left to say, and anything more that could be said is simply just window dressing. However, there's still something oddly alluring about a game as notorious as this. The appeal of this game doesn't necessarily lie in its laughingly bad elements; it's more from morbid curiosity. Like drivers slowing down to view a car crash, we almost want to take some time out of our busy gaming schedule to look back at this particular catastrophe. Enough time has passed that this little episode in gaming history is really more of a historical footnote to today's gaming audiences, and you could make the argument that it could even be an educational experience for some, an object lesson in game design and management. To people who have grown up on Halo and Call of Duty, there may yet still be some value in revisiting this game, if only just to satisfy that niggling question: "Is it really as bad as they said it was?"