John Romero's Daikatana

Moby ID: 1678
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Description official descriptions

Hiro Miyamoto is a martial arts instructor and a member of an ancient clan of fighters. One day he learns that Kage Mishima, a sworn enemy of his clan, has gained possession of the Daikatana, a magical sword that allows its bearer to travel through time. As a result of Mishima's quest for power, a devastating disease is threatening humanity. Hiro and his friends must venture into different time periods, retrieve the sword, and defeat Mishima.

Daikatana is a first-person shooter using the Quake II engine. The game is divided into four episodes of several levels each, each episode taking place in a different time period: far-future Japan, ancient Greece, Dark Ages Norway, and near-future USA. The game uses cutscenes and text to tell the story. Two AI-controlled characters accompany Hiro throughout the quest, helping him in battles and also requiring protection. In addition to several different firearms, the Daikatana itself, which the player acquires in Episode 2, can gain experience and grow stronger as it is used. The game includes a multi-player deathmatch mode.


  • 大刀 - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

165 People (140 developers, 25 thanks) · View all



Average score: 57% (based on 49 ratings)


Average score: 2.6 out of 5 (based on 83 ratings with 12 reviews)

Reminds me of Quake Arena 2, and I like it!

The Good
This game's developer was involved in the creation of Wolfenstein 3D (a classic first person shooter). The bad news is that he seemed to forget how it became so popular. Daikatana is pretty dark and creepy like it's supposed be. There is a range of 25 weapons, 64 monsters, four different time periods, all of which are shared within 24 levels.

The Bad
When I said the game was dark, it really is dark, I have to keep squinting sometimes just in order to see what's in front of me (usually in a dark place). Another problem I have with this game is that it was a delayed release. The developer John Romero believed that the entire game could be finished in just seven months, intending to release it in 1997. The game was eventually released in 2000 and many people said that it was using the "old fashioned" 3D engine used for Quake 2.

The Bottom Line
Overall, this game is satisfactory and playable. John Romero's Daikatana is a pretty creepy and amusing first person shooter. While summing up this game, it has proven to be pretty original and creative.

Windows · by Arejarn (7353) · 2008

Merely Average

The Good
Intersting storyline. The nod to Nintendo's founder. Weapons are varied in certain levels, the ad campaign ION Storm ran (even though it killed this game), Romero's hair .

The Bad
Graphics, repetitive level design, cliched and rather racist side-kick characters, the insects and frogs, the hype.

The Bottom Line
This game would have been just as bad, that is to say it's par for the shooter course, had it not taken nearly half a decade to produce. Romero may have tried to re-invent the shooter, but came up well short of his mark. It's still the same find key, open door, shoot anything that moves gameplay from other mindless shooters. But not as good as more recent titles.

The hype surrounding this game didn't help either. No game could live up to the "do all end-all of gaming" moniker this game had going for it. Romero should have stayed with id. At least no one hated their lackluster titles (Quake2).

Windows · by Matt Grosvenor (1) · 2003

An entertaining game with variety and a sense of humor that requires patience to appreciate.

The Good
Daikatana offers something different for those burnt out on the likes of "me-also" FPS games. The sound effects, sidekick commentaries, frag comments are hilarious. Aside from the occasional frustration with frame rates, multiplayer execution is eloquent and incredible. The variety of weapons is unmatched by any FPS games I have played, and scares away amateur newcomers to multiplayer games.

With Daikatana, multiplayer skill tactics certainly have a learning curve that most people don't seem to have the patience for. The physics of gameplay, weapons characteristics, maps familiarity, etc., all are extremely important for multiplayer matches. In multiplayer, gameplay is not just about quick reflexes and aim. It takes skill, strategy, and thought.

This game spans four separate episodes in four different time periods, and includes more than 25 weapons, many quite unique, but frustrating to some. I hear most newcomers and some veteran FPS gamers complain that some of the weapons require minimal aim or are simply too powerful; they claim that these are no-skill weapons. I beg to differ as in reality, these weapons tend to kill their users more often, and can require plenty of skill to avoid getting fragged by them.

The Bad
This game is based on a modified Quake II engine. The graphics don't appear as sensational as they do in Unreal Tournament and Quake III. Lips don't move when the sidekicks talk, but all this is trivial to me.

For the record, I do not like the single player mode. The sidekicks are certainly entertaining, but the artificial intelligence that controls the sidekicks is a bit annoying to me. For instance, when Superfly follows, he sometimes will stop in a doorway, let the door close on him, and get crushed to death. Bear in mind that my style of gameplay might be skewed by the multiplayer experience in which quick, stealthy movement is essential. For someone accustomed to the likes of quick strafe jump movement, and frag-on-the-fly capabilities, being followed around by your sidekick friends in single player mode is like playing lazer tag with grandma and grandpa at your side to back you up. You are busy fighting your battles while g'pa and g'ma are flirting with one another.

Multiplayer team play, CTF, deathtag and coop modes are fun.

The Bottom Line
If you are someone lacking in the patience department or judge books by their covers, you will not like this game at first glance. People seem to expect Daikatana to look like Quake III or Unreal Tournament, and equate anything with a lower polygon count as subpar. In my honest opinion, the multiplayer Daikatana experience kicks some major posterior rumpus, and I prefer it to the games I mentioned above. The graphics are not bad.

In single player mode, gamers seem to be discouraged by the green swamp, green sky, green everything and killer pests that greet you when starting the game. Accept this as a challenge, and not an annoyance. The game story will unfold and you soon will be greeted by different challenges.

The multiplayer gaming aspect requires more than just aim and quick reflexes. You have to give yourself time to get familiar with the physics, maps, and learn shortcuts in addition to strategy associated with weapons use. Most gamers who say Daikatana sucks and that UT and Q3 are much better don't have the patience to realize this. The variety of episodes, weapons, and physics make Daikatana skill mastery a bit more complex than one might expect.

This game is not duck hunt, and does take some degree of patience and openmindedness to appreciate at first. If you can humble yourself and not be frustrated by killer frogs, mosquitoes, and killer veterans in multiplayer games, then you'll enter a new level of gaming that is pleasantly similar but remarkably different than other FPS games. The multiplayer fraggage is intense and the payoff for climbing the moderately steep learning curve for this game is extremely rewarding.

Prepare to be frustrated or entertained.

Windows · by Michael Lum (3) · 2000

[ View all 12 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Should I try it? Unicorn Lynx (181780) Dec 30, 2011
incite PC gaming's Daikatana preview / interview video Foxhack (32100) Aug 19, 2007



Long before Daikatana was released, an ad for it was run in several magazines stating "John Romero's Gonna Make You His Bitch." Needless to say this upset quite a few folks.

Daikatana Deathmatch

In April 2007, a fan team released Daikatana Deathmatch (DKDM), a multiplayer-only modification stripping the game from all the single player parts to reduce the file size for players who only want the multiplayer part. It still requires a full copy of the game to play. The link can be found in the related links section.


Daikatana was in development for 3 years, exactly. The reason for the long development cycle was the switch to the Quake II engine. Romero decided to switch because of its colored lighting, among other graphical goodies, but when he finally received the source code, it was nothing like he pictured. Overall the story of the game's development and Ion Storm in general is as epic and profound as anything in the game. Check the related links for The Story of Daikatana.


The characters' sound files used in this game are not encrypted in any way. They're ordinary mp3 files which can be found in the data/sounds/voices folder of the Daikatana directory. There's quite a bit of unused dialogue in there which never made it into the full game. It seems the enemies and the player's two sidekicks were supposed to have more ambient dialogue (e.g. combat taunts, waiting sounds) than what was eventually used.


There are four Dopefish hidden in the game, one per time period.

German Windows version

In the German version enemy blood was colored grey, gore effects were removed and various human enemy modes changed, e.g. into robots or with an added mask to hide their face. A detailed list of changes can be found on (German).

Nintendo 64 version

The Nintendo 64 version misses violence in comparison to the original Windows version, e.g. purple instead of red blood. The PAL version was even cut further: the blood was replaced with sparks and civilians are immortal.


In the lobby of the Mishima Funeral Home/Crematorium, there's some solemn funeral-type music playing. This is really a slowed down version of the famous e1m1 music from DOOM.


As the sounds and dialog are not encrypted, one creative mixer was able to rearrange the dialog, add a little fake stuff here and there, add some bump-and-grind music, and came up with a long MP3 that sounds as if the two guys in the game were "engaging" the female sidekick. Computer Gaming World called it "the ONLY redeeming feature of Daikatana".


Daikatana sold 200,000 copies and had budget of over $10 million.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • April 2001 (Issue #201) – Coaster of the Year
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)
    • Issue 03/2005 - #8 Biggest Disappointment
    • Issue 02/2006 - #7 Hype Disappointment

Information also contributed by Alan Chan, bkaradzic, Kalirion, Kasey Chang, Sciere, WildKard and Zack Green.


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Matthew Bailey.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Andrew Hartnett, John Romero, Sciere, Ms. Tea, DreinIX, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Frank Sapone, aKro.

Game added June 18, 2000. Last modified April 2, 2024.