This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.
It has been a while since I’ve played this game. Don’t really remember what diverted my attention. From what I remember it is a very enjoyable fighter. The game is very easy to get into, a very easy pick up and play. I purchased this game back in 2009 as a used game. I am thinking that this game was released at the end of 1996, not sure. Everyone’s praise was geared toward the popular fighters on the PS1 and Saturn. I would think that this game would have gotten lost somewhere in that big ocean. Because I think it would take a lot to impress, especially among a crowd of well known franchises.
Awkward as this may be, using the N64 controller, seemingly, all of the buttons on the controller are used. Sadly there is no emphasis on combos. (I love combos.) Even though moves are easy to pull off in a Virtua Fighter-ish way, and you can get in several different hits tapping one button before you are rudely countered by your opponent. I find it difficult to string anything together. Using button combinations sometimes only results in a slight pause in between each button. Almost like it is loading the assigned move for that button. ( Broken, but sometimes you can make it work.) Easy combos would have upped the fun factor. Instead you are left with a strategy of moving in, get several hits, and evade. If you can get more hits in, you had better do it. And do learn to evade because some of these opponents will cut you to shreds. On the plus side, controls are simple and easy to learn. To me, Dark Rift really doesn’t stand out and distinguishes itself with any uniqueness. And I say that just because it plays like a mixture of VF and Tekken. But having that style of gameplay is really not that bad of a thing. Some may feel right at home and not know why.
Dark Rift, to me, really doesn’t have interesting character designs when placed up against any competition. And that is the way it sort of compares with a lot of fighters on the N64 too. Maybe it is just me. Some may love the character designs. Anyway, the fighters have a blockiness, but yet there is detail, more so, than what you might expect. The level of detail are reminiscent of the first Tekken and VF 2, and yet not quite there. The animation in the fighters is very smooth and fluid.
The backgrounds are greatly detailed, or maybe we should say backdrops. You could even refer to them as paintings. And you seem to be fighting on a plain that is endless. You can never encounter the background. Meaning, there is no interaction with the backgrounds or your surroundings. You could run for days after your opponent, literally. I really tried that, never made it to any boundaries. It makes you feel that you are in a very spacious endless arena. The combination of everything does manage to give you a 3D fighting experience.
It is a weapon based fighter, with no visible option for blood. (Evidently aliens don’t bleed.) And no fatalities. Each fighter has their own distinguishing weapon. And their moves relate to that particular weapon. The lighting and special effects distinguishes the game and sets it above the average fighter of that day. I do think that in “Normal Mode” the AI is a bit too easy. I consider myself a lousy gamer and I was able to beat the characters in the first two stages, three matches, without losing. I didn’t feel challenged until the third stage. Average amount of moans, and groans, during a fight with scaling in, and out, of the screen, depending on how close you are to your opponent.
I think I have played this game at the wrong time. Should have played this game first before all the other reviews. Playing some of the other fighters on the N64 has taken some of the “POW” out of Dark Rift for me. I have developed some mixed feelings. I still find this game good simple fun. And it has its own feel, atmosphere, and gameplay, which is what gives it that slight edge. I guess you can look at that from two different perspectives, either in a good way or a bad way. Regardless of any of the negativity I have mentioned above, it is very enjoyable playing. And I will admit that it might not be for everyone. A novice gamer would be able to jump right in and find the controls intuitive. Still, there is enough here, if you learn the moves of your choice fighter, to give an experienced gamer some good gaming. I will say, try it, and I will rate this game, “Great Game.”