[NSFW] Shadow Warrior (PC)

[NSFW] Shadow Warrior (PC)

shadow-warrior-headerShameless: lacking any sense of shame: immodest; audacious. Insensible to disgrace.

626685-shadow_warrior_title

Ah yes, Shadow Warrior: the game that defined an entire genre. For years, it has been heralded as the most influential and underrated game of all time. Wait, that’s not right, is it? Where am I?

I’m going to use the old timey phrase “hit the reset button” and sum up Shadow Warrior in a single word: shameless. Sure, I have used that word several times in previous articles, but if ANY game has ever deserved such a description, this is it. The stereotypes, violence, and toilet humor have the subtlety of a clown in a graveyard on Sunday (patent pending). The game apologizes for nothing as it forces its existence upon the player. At the top of its Sound Blaster lungs, it screams “look at me!”

Perhaps the most blatantly shameless aspect of Shadow Warrior is the game itself. Clearly the game is just an extreme, racist, and Asian version of Duke Nukem, right?

dukenukem3dboxshot-580x691 941847130-00
Like looking into an Asian mirror.

Sure, the games’ covers are very similar. But I’m not convinced Shadow Warrior is a rip-off in the traditional sense. The evidence suggests that this game was intended to be a spin-off, sequel, follow-up thing. I mean, Duke Nukem is known for gratuitous stereotyping, violence, and toilet humor, too. The gameplay is almost identical. They both feature an assortment of odd enemies and weapons. From what I can determine, Shadow Warrior sought to grasp onto the coattails of the Duke Nukem franchise’s success. They wanted to build onto the existing foundation, not duplicate it. But did they really need to? I would argue “no.”

I think for the sake of the review, I’ll leave the Duke out of this as much as possible. The similarities will speak for themselves. He’s gotten enough limelight. Plus, Duke Nukem Forever happened: a game fueled by the tears and broken dreams of grown ’90s children everywhere.

duke-nukem-forever-chap20You sit on a throne of …”thighs!”

The only real link worth mentioning, in my opinion, can be found in the Nintendo 64 version of Duke Nukem: you know, the version of the game that removed all the tasteful nudity that made the game great in the first place (don’t even try and deny it, you perverted freaks).

At the very beginning of the 64 version of the game, the player can go through a window on the second floor. On a wall inside this secret office room, the player sees this:

Screenshot_2013-01-03-19-14-41Homage, or insult?

Now wait a second, that’s Lo Wang, the protagonist from Shadow Warrior. What does it mean? Both DN and SW repeatedly make fun of other, more popular games within their games. However, I can’t make heads or tails of this SW reference. Is it the developer’s attempt to bring attention to the game? Is it advertising? Is it a joke? I really don’t know. Sure is kinda racist though…

The truth is that the mechanics of SW are more polished than DN. Shadow Warrior contains even more technological achievements and allows the player to do more than DN allowed. It was the last game from 3D Realms to use the Duke Engine. No doubt, if Capstone (the ones responsible for the revered Corridor 7 and Operation Body Count legacy) weren’t bankrupt by then, they would have taken the engine and reused it until well, now, probably.

But the thing about Shadow Warrior is that I had no idea the game even existed until the fateful day I actually found it. Or, the day it found me. While it is now a cult classic and available for iOS, I purchased the game long before that.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The year was 2004. I actually found this game, in the glorious unopened cereal-box sized packaging, at a dollar store next to a copy of Party Monster on VHS. Take that in for a moment. Dollar store. It’s not like one can stroll into any Dollar Tree and walk out with a PC game today. To my knowledge, dollar stores sometimes get random and obscure inventory. I guess I was one of the “lucky” ones. I remember staring at the game and wondering what exactly it was I was looking at. An expansion pack for Duke Nukem? Curiosity got the better of me.

In horror, I saw my hands reach for both Shadow Warrior and Party Monster simultaneously. Seth Green and Macaulay Culkin? How can I lose? (Oh, I can lose. I can definitely lose.) I still remember how embarrassed I was taking my “treasures” to the checkout counter. How can ANYONE get embarrassed at a dollar store?

party-monstersThat’s how.

After a sexually unsettling cinematic experience, I began playing Shadow Warrior. I barely remember it. In what scientists are calling the “Party Monster effect,” the brain will erase several hours of memory to protect itself from permanent damage upon attempted viewing of the film. Wait, Party Monster? That’s the movie with Seth Green and Macaulay Culkin, isn’t it? How can I lose?

Anyway, that was nine long years ago. I decided to have a fresh look with 100% less cross-dressing party goers. I still had the disc, which is a Ying Yang symbol. My hands began to tremble as I saw the developer’s creativity, even in the disc art. (I began to weep.)

I used my trusty DOSBox and the game lit right up.

07975

The first thing I noticed about this game the second time around is the racism. Oh golly. The game hasn’t even loaded yet and I’m bombarded with the undeniable sound of a white man trying to sound Asian. “Uhhh de Asian a maka a da sound rike dis. Chop chop.” The game embarrassingly goes out of its way to exploit every Asian stereotype imaginable. Shame. Less. It comes off forced, and not very funny.

The storyline revolves around an ex-assassin named Lo Wang who is fighting the evil demonic minions of his former boss. Once the game starts, it really starts. Unlike most FPS games, the player doesn’t begin with a pussy pea shooter. Instead, you get a katana. Awesome. I would have played the entire game with it if I could. It has a devastating one-hit kill at close range.

The controls are smooth and very responsive. The katana makes the list of “best weapons you start with in a FPS game” if there is such a thing. The slicing and dicing is dramatized to gaming perfection. The animation of the victims—er, I mean, enemies—being chopped in half is surprisingly fun and well-orchestrated. The helpless look they give as they pause for a moment, the cut flesh holding together just a moment longer before falling into bloody pieces, and the blood-splattered blade and fists of the protagonist, all work together very well. And that was the darkest paragraph I’ve ever written.

They create a perfect kill thrill that is not very easy to accomplish in gaming. I was trying to figure out what it reminded me of, and then it hit me: Using the samurai sword is like playing Fruit Ninja…with people.

sw_caseofthemondaysAs God intended.

The violence is brutal, awesome, and way over the top. Double shameless.

The player is introduced to new weapons pretty quickly. It’s a good thing too, because the enemies are very fast and deadly. Some of them can even become weapons themselves after they are dispatched. For example, one (spoiled) surprise is that a certain enemy’s severed head can be used as a weapon after the player kills him. In fact, the cover of the game features the villain. Let’s have a closer look.

shrekHm…

The rest of the game plays very similarly to Duke Nukem. The violence is much more gratuitous in this game, though. SW front-loads the coolest aspects for the player right away, offering the player instant gratification. Unfortunately, it also causes the game to get old pretty quickly.

For some reason, games that require simple key-collecting lose my interest much faster as of late. I think the main reason may be more of a testament to how far games have come since then. In these sorts of older games, exploration takes a backseat to repetition. With graphical limitations a thing of the past, I believe the old formula is now obsolete.

After all the cool-as-shitness dissipates, I was disappointed to find a game underneath that takes a turn for the average. It starts losing steam pretty quickly. Although there is a lot of diversity to the levels, great effects, multiple enemies and weapons, and drivable vehicles (a rarity at the time), the game becomes monotonous.

Shadow Warrior is, at this point, almost completely reduced to the horribly awkward racist jokes and toilet humor. When any game is running on cheap, perverted fumes, it risks losing all structural integrity. At certain points, the game wavers dangerously close to that realm. I call it the “Leisure Suit Larry zone.”

shadowwarrior4“You want to wash Wang? Or you want to watch Wang wash wang?” – Lo Wang

Some of the humor relies on anime-style semi-hentai girls. These encounters are few and far between. The things Wang says and experiences may make the player chuckle at first, and then immediately feel a slight, dirty guilt. This is normal. This is the epitome of “toilet humor.”

shadow-warrior_528x297Toilet humor…on a toilet.

Utter shamelessness!

With all of the hentai stereotypes, I will answer your question before you even ask it: No. They do not have an epic tentacle boss battle. That would have been too much coolness for any of us to handle. You know it; I know it. Plus, Stonekeep beat them to it.

One of the gutsiest gags in the entire game is Lara Croft clearly being held against her will. Most definitely sexual torture being involved…

1354824-sw_002

This is nothing compared to the beta version of poor Laura that didn’t make it into the game. I’m not even posting that here. But you can Google it if you really want. Suffice it to say…yeah…it gets…rapey.

In closing, the game is a mixed bag of awesome and not-so-awesome that screams “slightly above average.” The racism and depravity are more novelty than substance. While they add a level of cheapness and awkwardness to the game, they also make it a lot more interesting, if I’m being honest. Shadow Warrior is the Spencer’s Gifts of games.

shadowwarrior3Drop the beat.

After it’s all said and done, I don’t think the game made the impact it was supposed to. Shadow Warrior caused controversy when it was released for being racist. I can see why. This game doesn’t seem to pay homage to Asian culture or even serve as a satire for it. It just seems to makes fun of it.

Perhaps if they made a stronger effort to be clever and not brazen, perhaps if they didn’t market the protagonist as a racistly-Asian cousin of the Duke, this cookie would have had a better fortune.

Shameless…

I leave you with what Google images yields when one types “Shadow Warrior.”

Image.ashx ShadowWarrior-dvd-and-case

…Awkward.


Article rating: 7.00 BEARDS out of 10

About the Author

I don't write for fun. Fun writes for me. Check out my other articles!
Email: frankjacobs.fj@gmail.com

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