In the second video game article in celebration of Game On Expo, we take a look at Eternal Champions, a fighting game that was nearly a trilogy but ended up with just a sequel.
Right before Christmas of 1993, Sega released Eternal Champions onto the Sega Genesis to cash in on the explosion in popularity of the fighting genre thanks in part to Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. This was a Sega owned property, not developed by Capcom or any outside developer, this was in the hands of Sega Interactive, an in house American development team. Sega Interactive wanted to be a bit different from the popular fighting games at the time by adding a real purpose to the game, a story line that gamers would be interested in finding out what happens with each character. Other additions to the game that were not prevalent in fighting games at the time was the use of weapons and there was no “good vs evil” element to the game.
The game received relatively positive reviews with most frequent critique being the difficulty of learning to play the game. The game was able to pass that hurdle however and went on to sell enough copies to warrant a sequel. Eternal Champions was even popular enough to get its own Slurpee flavor at 7-11.
The sequel would come two years later in the form of a Sega CD release called Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side. The game was released in dying days of the Sega CD but achieved an impressive feat: it sold more on the Sega CD than Street Fighter II sold on the Genesis.
Sega Interactive brought back the original characters, added more, and expanded on the story from the first game. The original game featured “Overkills”, a take on Mortal Kombat’s “fatality” and the Sega CD version of Eternal Champions added Cinekills, a full motion video of the characters death in the fight.
Eternal Champions would go on to have two spinoffs on the Sega Game Gear based on two of the characters in Eternal Champions. The game also got a comic book rendition in the UK, often appearing a mini story in Sonic the Comic, and it even had a stand alone special edition.
Now, the game was always planned to be a trilogy and if you picked up a Sega Saturn back in 1995, you saw on the console box a picture of Eternal Champions. Sega Interactive had begun very early work on a Sega Saturn rendition of Eternal Champions but Sega of Japan stepped in. Sega of Japan saw Eternal Champions as a hurdle to their own title, Virtua Fighter. Two wildly different fighting games and because Eternal Champions was seen as competition to the flagship title of the Sega Saturn, it was axed. Sega Interactive never got the chance to properly finish their trilogy and probably never will.
Did you play Eternal Champions back in the 90s? Would you like to see the trilogy complete? Let me know Twitter!