The Super Famicom port of Street Fighter II was released in June 1992. Telenet’s Doomsday Warrior then hit the market later that year in November. It’s unknown how long it was in development, but based on the final product, one could easily surmise that it was slapped together as quickly as possible to capitalize on the red-hot fighting game crazy spurred by Capcom’s worldwide hit. Now, the game joins the Nintendo Switch Online roster - but it is worth a look all these years after release?
There are seven playable characters in Doomsday Warrior, all part of a group of warriors called the Doom Squad, fighting under the influence of the evil wizard Main. One betrays the group – that’s the character you choose – and must fight their former comrades to protect the Earth. Layban and Sledge are the two diametrically-opposed karate heroes, and Daisy is a half-woman, half-plant in the vein of supervillainess Poison Ivy. Grimrock is an anthropomorphic lizard guy, Amon is a post-apocalyptic punk straight out of Fist of the North Star, and Nuform is a shapeshifter made of metallic liquid. And rounding out the cast is P. Lump, an obese Chinese man, and certainly ranks up as one of the most face-palmingly stupid character names in the entire canon of fighting games. There are three other boss characters – the four-armed Ashura, the shadowy Shadow (who just mimics your character a la Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung), and Main for the final encounter – though they are unplayable.
The controls are greatly simplified from other fighting games of the era. There are punch and kick commands, while jumping and blocking are awkwardly mapped to their own buttons. The fighting is kludgy, as moves don’t flow into one another, and the AI is often dull and inept. Each character has the usual command motion special movies, though there’s also a special throw manoeuvre, executed automatically when your character is close enough to their opponent. These look and feel cool, since they’re accompanied by cheesy speed lines and usually involves slamming the other character into a side of the screen. But they’re also so powerful, and so much more fun than slowly whittling away your opponent’s health with weak jabs, that they quickly become the core of the fighting action… and just as quickly, become incredibly tedious. Each character’s life meter is divided into four quadrants. Health regenerates (up to a point) if you stay on the defensive, which does alter the strategy a bit. Plus, any remaining stamina can then be channelled into upgrading one of five statistics, making you stronger for the next match.
Doomsday Warrior is largely junk, with a few redeeming elements. The character roster is pretty dumb, but it is interesting to play as characters that would probably be considered villains in other games. There aren’t many backgrounds, but some of them are pretty cool, like stages consisting of floating coloured tiles, or a stage on a rooftop that seems tilted on its side, seeming to defy gravity (there was a similar one in Vampire Savior, the third Darkstalkers game, though it would be generous to say they ripped off this game here). Overall, it’s about what you’d expect from Telenet; some neat ideas, tossed into a game that passes the bare minimum level of playability, all to exploit a hungry market.