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Forgotten Classics: Eternal Champions


Kōyamaki

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This long forgotten gem was never adapted into an anime but, it probably should have been. Myself and maybe one or two other people are probably the only ones here that even remember playing this now obscure 2-D fighter on the 16-Bit Megadrive. According to what I read, there were more sequels planned after "Challenge From the Dark Side" was released for the Mega-CD console, but Sega of Japan in their infinite wisdom decided to force an early end to the project in favor of its "Virtua Fighter" franchise - go and figure that out.🙄

Although I have never played the sequel, I have many fond memories of the first one. More than being simply an enjoyable electronic game, it was a work of art in many more ways than just one. The fact that the box art was done by legendary artists Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell certainly did not hurt.

The premise of the story was very unconventional. Basically it goes, an omniscient alien being from the future with super cosmic powers known simply as "The Eternal Champion" grants a second chance at life to nine different fighters from different time periods who met an early death before they could change history for the better and save the world by averting the extinction level cataclysm that the Champion himself seeks to prevent. The Eternal Champion has the fighters compete against each other for the right to face him in combat and determine whether they are worthy of being allowed to return to their original time and be allowed to live out a full life to offset the negative changes which culminate in disaster. Unlike most fighting games of that era, nobody in the first title was actually evil; there were no equivalent counterparts to Shao Kahn or M. Bison storywise.

The Eternal Champion himself is legitimately my least favorite final boss to fight against in any of the fighters that I have played. Not only must the player defeat the Eternal Champion in his several different forms during the same round but, the player's health points are only partially replenished between each part of the fight. If the player lost two rounds against the Eternal Champion, there would be no continues and it would be game over -- followed by the Eternal Champion lamenting in despair of how his expectations were not met while informing the player that the world is doomed and that it was their own failure to pass his test that caused it. I never became good enough where I could beat the Eternal Champion.

The time travel theme is something that few other fighting game franchises used. "Time Killers" and ADK's "World Heroes" ( later acquired by SNK/Neo Geo ) were the only other two from the 16-Bit Era ( that I can name ) that used this motif. To a lesser extent, the development team from "Killer Instinct" experimented with the concept when the sequel "Killer Instinct 2" ( aka "Killer Instinct Gold" ) was released for the Nintendo 64 in the late '90s.

( EDIT: Eternal Champions was actually adapted into a comic in the issues of the official Sega publication, "Sonic the Comic", which was exclusive to the UK. The story loosely followed the lore of the game. Details here. )

I still remember my first time playing this, it would show some random character from the cast appear and smash the Sega logo before the title screen started - I always thought that was so cool.🤩

 

Aside from the story concept and art direction, I also really enjoyed the background music. It was some of the best ever used for a chiptune. I was delighted to learn that someone actually made remixes of them in just the past few months of my writing this. As good as some of these remixes are, I still don't feel that they necessarily replace the originals - they are an addition to them. I never much cared for Larcen's stage theme, so that might be one exception for me. Some of the songs which were great in their original chiptune form did not translate as well in the new style, so I will be omitting those. You can listen to the original chiptunes here.

 

The artist, Hyde209, not only does covers of video game music, he is also an accomplished graphic artist as well. If you enjoy this, be sure and check him out.

The first remix video is the theme from the database of the game's character bios. Hyde provides abridged versions of each of the characters' backstories.

 

The second is of the game's main menu theme.

 

 

This one is a remix of the Battle Room theme.

 

 

Undoubtedly, I would have to say Jonathan Blade's stage theme was my favorite one in chiptune. This remix actually captures the spirit of the original the best out of all the iterations of it that Hyde has done, though it is still missing that whirring noise that drones in the background for most of the song on the Megadrive. Hyde did a much older metal version of this song that is also really good -- link here. He also did a couple of others that were more ambitious but, didn't strike my fancy as much - one of them a collab with a friend of his.

 

 

Larcen's stage theme was my least favorite out of all the chiptunes...somehow Hyde turned this otherwise unremarkable ( and unoriginal ) song into something that's awesome.

 

 

To be honest, every remix Hyde has done of Shadow's theme is great but, I think this one actually sounds the most like the original; thus, it is my favorite remixed version of it.

 

 

The scantily clad blonde vixen from the cover art! Jetta Maxx is easily my waifu when it comes to anything EC. Her theme song was also one of my favorites from the original game. Out of all of Hyde's remixes of her theme, this one is my personal favorite and the only one I will feature here.

 

 

Growing up, I was a Xavier main. Xavier Pendragon was my favorite character from the game and the one that I most empathized with -- he realized all too late that he had cast his pearls before swine when they burned him at the stake. Historically, I believe those accused of witchcraft were actually hanged instead of burned; the accused were still just as dead though. Each of Hyde's Eternal Champions Tribute albums has a cover of Xavier's stage theme. Although the version from his latest album "Resynthesized" sounds much more like the original, this older metal version is just so cool that I actually prefer it over the other ones. It's that kind of awesome...

 

 

I have always loved shows and films where both the prehistoric and futuristic would come together. I honestly wasn't sure whether to feature Slash's stage theme remix. It's really more like music to set the mood than something made for musical enjoyment. In any case, this one is most faithful to the original and largely succeeds in capturing that feeling.

 

 

The game's final boss had a pretty wicked tune even in its original 16-Bit form. I honestly think that I might like this one better than the original version. I really like the way this one turned out.

 

 

The different remixes Hyde has done of Trident's theme are all so good that he is the only character whom all different theme song iterations thereof will be included here. All three have uniquely different sound qualities that set them apart as their own thing. Hyde's album "The Second Chance" included radio drama style voice acting bits relating to the deaths of each character. Out of the three, the remix from "Resynthesized" ( the first one down below ) sounds the most like the original version. I decided not to even bother with the themes of R.A.X. or Midknight because neither were as good as they should have been with modern hardware - especially Midknight's; it's a shame because Midknight's stage was one of my favorites in the game.

 

 

 

 

 

The remix of the bad ending.

 

 

And finally...the remix of the good ending.

 

 

 

Edited by Kōyamaki

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