Dark Rift (N64)
Kronos's Dark Rift is a serviceable fighting game with truly excellent graphics. Alas, the game falls short in the crucial departments of characterization, control, and environmental interactivity. While Dark Rift is a competitive entry in the admittedly weak N64 fighting category, this is not the kind of "category-killer" title that one expects from the N64. Those seeking the ultimate fighting game should look elsewhere.
The story of Dark Rift is memorable, as in "memorably uninspired." Someone in the creative production department at Kronos has made an absolutely laughable attempt to link a science fiction story to the onscreen action, and it just doesn't work. Suffice it to say that, for some bizarre reason, a dozen intergalactic characters have decided to get together and duke it out. Unfortunately, we are given no reason to really care about these characters, other than their particular fighting strengths. There is no compelling backstory reminiscent of the fighting classic Street Fighter 2.
Graphics are the highlight of Dark Rift. The game features some stunning character animations. The character of Morphix is particularly compelling, as it possesses fantastic Hollywood-style special effects. Morphix's gleaming red skin seems to be constantly in motion. The effect is well produced and innovative.
Each character in Dark Rift has its own unique weapon. Morphix, for example, utilizes a series of morphing attacks that are interesting, with his own body serving as his weapon. As with the weapons, each character also has a decent number of unique moves. But such features are now standard on most fighting games, and Dark Rift gameplay does not provide much in the way of innovation.
Dark Rift is yet another fighter that makes claims of being "3D." The only 3D element that affects gameplay in the slightest is the ability to side-step oncoming opponents and projectiles. This simple move does not represent a terribly bold step into the world of 3D, and in fact accomplishes nothing that was not possible in 2D.
The backgrounds of Dark Rift are attractively drawn, but not interactive. A truly innovative and compelling 3D fighter would incorporate weaponry into the background, and include interesting environmental hazards. Alas, Dark Rift does not. The overly large Dark Rift backgrounds represent little more than pretty pictures.
It should be noted that Dark Rift is unfortunately not Rumble Pak compatible. Rumble Pak support would have helped to distinguish the game from its peers.
Dark Rift is an average fighting game that arguably surpasses its N64 competitors Killer Instinct Gold, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy. However, it does not exploit the full potential of the N64, and does not deliver a particularly unique or remarkable fighting experience. Rent before you buy. N64 fighting fans should also look to Midway's Mace: The Dark Age.
Overall 7.8 out of 10