Daikatana has one of the most terrible reputations in gaming history, and the development process and game itself cement Daikatana as one of history’s worst games.
John Romero was the rock star hero of the gaming industry, working on FPS genre defining games like Wolfenstein, Quake, and Doom. Building on that success, Romero founded his own studio, Ion Storm, and prepared to develop what could have been one of the most epic games ever. And he succeeded, creating a game legendary for how a game should not be developed.
Daikatana has no single setting, ranging everywhere and when and featuring a wide variety of weapons and opponents. The graphics, gameplay, and setting are actually quite unoriginal for the time, borrowing heavily from similar games released around then. Some of the most noteworthy competition Daikatana faced at the time included Half-Life and Metal Gear Solid, both of which became major franchises and rewrote story-based shooters. In fact, several of the settings and activity sets from Daikatana are easily recognizable from those two games. Daikatana’s first mission even starts out similarly to Half-Life.
But the game’s quality, or lack thereof, is far from the only contributing factor as to why Daikatana has such a bad reputation. The game was incredibly hyped up and heavily marketed, building expectations among gamers that this would be “The Game.” Unfortunately, like Destiny, it failed to live up to the mental image it created.
Daikatana was plagued with issues from the very start. Infighting, ridiculous spending, and delays beset the game from the outset. Internal communication errors contributed to the problems. Cracked spoke with one of the devs from the game, and some of the problems Daikatana developers faced are hilarious.
“During a meeting I explained to John that I was working on the end-game cinematics with Kage [the antagonist]. I pronounced it ‘Cage.’ Romero giggled. ‘Who? What? What are you working on?’ I said it again. Now everyone was laughing at me. Romero: ‘Who? Say it again!’ Me: ‘Um… Kage?’ Romero: ‘No, dude! It’s pronounced Kah-gee!’ Me: ‘Um… well, you better check the voiceover recordings, because it’s ‘Cage.’ And suddenly Romero’s face turned white. Half the audio in the game had his name pronounced wrong, and it was too late to fix.”
Another problem within Ion Storm was the level of infighting. They had an unparalleled turnover rate during the game’s development. At one point, eight employees simultaneously quit to go start their own game studio. High ranking individuals left or were cut out one after the other. Even Eidos, the company bankrolling Ion Storm, felt concern over the rising tide of problems at the company.
Adding to the mountain of issues was the out-of-control spending. The company was leasing the top of a skyscraper in Dallas, Texas, for over a million dollars a month. And Dallas is far from the programming capital of the United States, resulting in talent needing to be brought in from elsewhere, often for large amounts of money. When problems continued, even more piles of cash were poured into the hole that became Ion Storm.
Even the marketing campaign went awry, with posters and slogans highly offensive in nature. The marketing essentially grabbed gamers’ attention, but not in a good way. Instead, sights were set on Daikatana to find every flaw possible.
And the result of the catastrophe of Ion Storm, Daikatana is frequently known as one of the worst games in gaming history.
Ever play Daikatana? Tell us what you thought and whether it truly is deserving of its horrible reputation in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Daikatana/Steam]