Articles & Notes, Ideas & Personal creations — April 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Game becomes film: “Eternal Champions” (1993)

I’ve had my share of joy, playing the SEGA video game console, and for what I can remember I’ve always had a few games there, that in my opinion would have made great movies.

So, I’ve decided to write down the two of them, that coincidentally were among my favorite games, “Eternal Champions“, and “Streets of Rage“. You can check out the “Streets of Rage” post here, and this one is about the “Eternal Champions”.

Eternal Champions (1993) – is a “tournament-fighting type of game, where you got a bunch of very different, larger than life characters that represent different periods of time, different races, fighting styles and so on.

According to the game’s story, all of the fighters were killed, and the “Eternal Champions” tournament allows them to fight one more time, so that when (or should I say IF) one of them wins the tournament, he/she will be transported back to his/her time, seconds or minutes before death, so that an alternative solution could be made.

In other words, if you win the tournament, you’re given another chance to re-live the moments before your own death.

There were a lot of debates, whether the “Eternal Champions” was the first tournament-style game that used “fatalities”. Eventually, it was found out that the original “Mortal Kombat” was released three months before “Eternal Champions”, which means “fatalities” was nothing new. Below are the original “Eternal Champions” characters with their brief storylines as described in the game itself.

ORIGINAL ETERNAL CHAMPIONSTo choose the game’s original characters, Sega held a biweekly “focus group” made up of all ages, where a list of archetype characters (pirate, ninja, etc.) were voted on, after the number was whittled down to fifty characters, loose sketches were drawn, which were then reviewed by ‘kid testers’ and finally reduced to ten resulting in the nine characters of the game, including the Eternal Champion.

* Shadow Yamoto– Female ninja assassin from Japan in 1993. Her fighting style was a system of unarmed combat similar to Jujutsu mixed with the Ninjutsu art of invisibility. As a member of the Black Orchid Corp, she rose through the ranks, and became a top-notch killer. After successfully carrying out many missions, she questioned her superiors about the consequences of failure. The answer given to her is that she herself would be assassinated. Feeling vulnerable and endangered, she then decided to escape, and reveal the organization to the public authorities. However, the superiors arranged her death, and had her pushed off the 101st floor of the Corp building, before she could blow the whistle.

* R.A.X. Coswell (I can almost see a Gary Daniels-Olivier Gruner mix here!) – A professional kickboxer from the year 2345 (R.A.X. stands for Robotic Artificial Exoskeleton). He was born in a time where the popularity of martial arts started to fade. Martial artists started to combine with machines, and began an era known as “cyber fighting”. With a strong desire to stay relevant, he underwent painful surgery to be injected with cybernetic implants, therefore becoming a half human/half machine: a cyborg. He soon began winning many fights, and achieving fame. Before his championship match, his corrupt manager implanted a virus into his cybernetics which would cause his system to shut down. During his championship match his manager activated the virus just before RAX could land the final blow. His death was due to a virus implanted in his cybernetics which caused his systems to shut down.

* Jonathan Blade (yes a big black dude called Blade, long before Wesley Snipes) – A former police officer from the year 2030 who was dismissed, due to a very short temper. He is a master in Kenpo Karate. He then became a bounty hunter back in his home country Syria, and was in deep pursuit of a mad scientist, who threatened to destroy the human race with a lethal virus. Although he came close to killing the scientist on several occasions, he was only ordered to capture, and bring the scientist to justice. Finally trapping the scientist in an alley, he attempted to retrieve the virus. They were suddenly hit with a stream of lasers, causing the scientist to drop the vial, containing the virus. It is clear that he was set up and killed by his own government. The last image that Blade saw was the broken vial containing the virus.

* Jetta Maxx – A young Russian woman from the year 1899, who abandoned her originally aristocratic lifestyle to become a circus acrobat and travel the world. She was also a master of Savate/Pencak Silat. Targeted by a Chinese Boxer revolutionary, she died after her sabotaged tightrope and safety net snapped, causing her to fall to her death. The manual mentions her as being a cousin of Czar Nicholai II.

* Slash – A caveman from the Prehistoric Great Rift Valley in the year 50,000 BC. He did not train in any specific martial art, and instead fought in any way which could cause as much pain as possible. Being a hunter of superior intelligence, he would often search for ideas and methods to provide ways of better living for his tribe. However, as time went on, he drew much resentment and animosity from his tribe’s elders for his way of thinking. It was at a meeting that he was cornered, and stoned to death for speaking out against the elders in public.

* Trident – A gladiator named after the trident that replaced his hand, he was a hero to his race from Atlantis in the year 110 BC. As a master of Capoeira, he represented his race of people in a battle against the Romans. Should he have won, then his people would receive share of land alongside the Romans. However, due to a Roman gladiator’s treachery, he was crushed underneath a falling stone pillar. As a result his people were forever banished to the waters.

* Xavier Pendragon – A former blacksmith from Salem in the year 1692, at the height of the Salem Witch Trials. He is a master of Hapkido and Cane Fighting. After failing as a blacksmith, he tried his hand at alchemy. He eventually discovered a clean, unlimited source of energy but before he could put it to use he was captured and burned at the stake after being labeled a warlock.

* Mitchell Midleton Knight (also known as Midknight) – A London-born biochemical scientist and master of Jeet Kune Do who worked for the CIA. He was assigned to make a biological weapon which was intended to be poured into the water supply of North Vietnam during the war. However, in a freak accident, he himself was exposed to the virus and was turned into a vampire-like creature in 1967. Despite the fact that he hungered for blood, he refused to harm and kill others. He spent many regretful years trying to invent a cure but to no avail, and was killed in the year 2100 by a vampire hunter, who drove a magnesium stake into his heart.

* Larcen Tyler – An ex-cat burglar from 1920s Chicago, who worked for a Chicago mob. As a master of Praying Mantis Kung Fu, he carried out many jobs for his boss, Mr Taglalini, though he refused to kill. One day, he received a mission: to plant false evidence in the hospital room of a rival crime boss. However, upon arriving Larcen found not a rival crime lord, but the Chief of Police. Realizing the package was a bomb, he attempted to throw it out the window but was not fast enough. The blast killed Larcen, the Police Chief, and most of the people in the hospital.

* Eternal Champion – A protector of the balance of good, practices Dragon, Tiger, Hawk and Shark styles. He is the final boss of the game, and an unplayable character by normal means.

Unlike most fighting games, or video games in general, there are no characters in this game that are “bad” or “evil”. Each character has been chosen because they are either inherently good, or they have the potential to do great good and change the course of history for the better.

Despite the ability to kill opponents in this game, this is not relevant to the story. Much like games such as Mortal Kombat (which pioneered finishing moves in fighting games), fatalities or in the case of Eternal Champions “Overkills” are not canon and simply a gameplay element for the enjoyment of the player.

It is actually revealed in a few character endings that some of the fighters had become allies or friends during the course of the tournament.

Wait, it gets better. Two years later, the sequel Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side (sometimes known as Eternal Champions CD or Eternal Champions 2) was released for the Mega-CD/Sega CD.

MORE CHAMPIONS, EGG FU and more…

As was the case with the first game, “Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side” followed the story of the Eternal Champion, who had felt the balance of the universe and time had been disturbed by the deaths of key individuals who had been destined to change the world for the greater good.

To restore the balance, he held a great contest in which the winner would be granted the gift of new life, allowing them to fulfill their rightful destiny.

However, in this second chapter, it is revealed that the Eternal Champion has an evil counterpart: the Dark Champion. The Dark Champion appears and declares that he also will enter the contest, and that he has hidden four more warriors, preventing the contest from truly being fulfilled. Now the contestants must not only achieve the aims of the Eternal Champion but also face the Dark Champion as well, if they want their lives back.

This sequel included the original roster of characters from the first Eternal Champions, along with a whole new cast of fighters, including some of the ones that were initially discarded from the original Mega Drive game. They are listed below (some of them are edits of the original eternal champions).

Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side – characters* Eternal Champion (Version Two), a protector of the balance of good. Version Two practices Unicorn, Elephant, Millipede and Electric eel style. The Eternal Champion is immortal and is the one who gathered the warriors stating that, though they had all died tragically, in his eyes they all had heroic qualities.* Dark Eternal Champion, the protector of the balance of evil, who practices nature style, is immortal, and utilizes natural disasters as weapons.

* Chin Wo, an acupuncturist from China who practiced Monkey Kung Fu and died in 1815 when he was arrested and executed after he had been framed for a crime by his brother.

* Dawson McShane, a gambling, self-proclaimed “Lone Wolf” from 19th century Scotland, who moved to the Wild West. He practiced Shotowando, a patchwork fighting style of his own invention, and was framed and hanged in 1849 by a wealthy landowner for a crime he had not committed.

* Ramses III, a Pharaoh from Egypt who practiced Hung Gar and died in 151 BC when he was pushed off a cliff into the Nile.

* Raven Gindar, a white magic and voodoo specialist from a tribal village in Trinidad who practiced Tae Kwon Do and Hsing-i Kung Fu and died in 1802 when her healing spell was turned against her by a black magic voodoo priest, draining her life force.

* Senator, a politician from Washington, DC who practiced “Dishonesty” and succumbed to a heart attack in 1995. (This character is likely a joke, directed towards the controversy surrounding violent content in video games.) The Senator is a head and palette swap of Larcen Tyler.

* Sophia “Riptide” de Medici, a female pirate from Italy who practiced Kajukenbo and was killed by a rival in 1566 when she attempted to steal his treasure.

* Thanatos, the ancient Greek god of death prior to 1692 who practices Time, Fate and Fisticuffs style. Thanatos is a head and palette swap of Xavier.

* Thomas “Blast” Chavez, a Green Beret soldier from the United States of America who practiced the Green Beret Fighting Technique and died in 1965 when his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam.

Oh wait, we forgot…”Animal characters”!

Also only available in “Challenge from the Dark Side”, these characters lacked Vendettas and Cinekills. Their stages actually belong to other characters onto whom they piggybacked.

* Crispy, a chicken from a farm, who practices Egg Fu and died by helicopter blitz in 1967. His stage is the same as Blast, which is an adapted version of Midknight’s from the first game.

* Hooter, an owl from Salem, who practices Owl-Kwon Do and died in 1692 alongside the character Xavier. His stage is the same as Xavier’s.

* Slither, a snake from a bar called the Snakebite Saloon, that practices brawling and died in 1820 while defending his bar. He shares a stage with new character Dawson.

* Yappy, a dog from New York City, that practices Shih Tzu Fu and was run over by an automobile during a revengeful sabotage attempt in 1950. He shares a home stage with the hidden character Senator.

* Zuni, a monkey at the Blue Dragon Circus, who practices Monkey Fu and died by elephant stampede in 1902 while trying to put out a fire in the circus tent. His stage is Jetta’s Stage.

Unlike its predecessor, the sequel features villainous or evil characters. Whereas in the first game, each character was inherently good, there are several characters in this game that were always villainous or “bad”. However, like the original roster of fighters, even these villainous characters have the potential to affect history in a positive way, either directly or inadvertently, as a result of their actions.

Though “Eternal Champions” saw strong sales and was at one point a popular enough property to warrant a sequel, a remake, two spin-offs, and various multimedia tie-ins, after the planned third game in the core fighting series was cancelled Sega has seemingly abandoned the franchise and hasn’t produced any new work on it.

Inexplicably, the entire series has also been notably absent from the several compilations of Sega Genesis games that have been released on various platforms over the years, one of the only mainstream Sega properties released during that era with this distinction.

Nevertheless, since we already had film adaptations of “Mortal Kombat”, “Street Fighter”, “Tekken”, why not give “Eternal Champions” a chance? The most important reason here is the characters, as in my opinion, they would have been (if rightly chosen for the screen) much more interesting and vivid than those of “Mortal Kombat” or “Tekken”.



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One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about eternal champions.
    Regards

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