According to the groovy talking skull in the opening FMV sequence, a group known as the “Kthundra monks” holds a fighting tournament once every century in their mountain fortress.  For the tournament, this strange group (who happen to be descendants of dragons) brings together the world’s greatest warriors to engage in a fighting competition, with the winner’s name being added to the mystic “Book of Warriors” (which looks a lot like the Evil Dead’s “Necronomicon“).

While that premise is vaguely interesting, when it comes to fighting games, who really cares about deep plotlines?  Everyone just wants to know if the ass-kicking factor is any good, right?  With Way of the Warrior it is, at least a little bit…

Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t be giving this game too favorable of a review.  I mean, the characters are goofy, it’s not original in any way, and the play control is absolutely horrible (although this can be attributed to the awfully clunky and stiff 3DO controllers).  However, even with those negatives in mind, I still happen to like this game.  I guess it’s just one of those guilty gaming pleasures that defies all reasonable and logical explanations.

Way of the Warrior fatality on 3DO

That's gotta hurt: Konotori after taking a dip in the lava pool.

For the uninitiated, Way of the Warrior is basically a Mortal Kombat wannabe.  Just like MK, everything from “Fatalities” to digitized character graphics is included.  The characters of WotW and MK are quite similar, as are their moves and fatalities. If you’ve played any of the MK games, you won’t find anything new here in terms of gameplay or design that you haven’t seen before, except perhaps for one thing: presentation.

The graphics and audio of WotW are all top-notch.  Seriously, this is one damn good looking (and sounding) game.  All of the levels are very detailed and interesting (with cool Samurai Shodown-style in & out zooming), and the soundtrack kicks a whole lot of ass.  In fact, the soundtrack is comprised entirely of songs from the White Zombie album, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One.   Not only do these tunes rock, but they go extremely well with a game of this type.

For what WotW lacks in originality and control, it more than makes up for in its spectacular presentation.  When you also consider its huge amount of character moves, fatalities, secret characters and stages, the replay value is quite high.  If you own a 3DO and you’re a fan of the fighting genre, you’d be well advised to pick up a copy of this game.  While not a stellar title, Way of the Warrior is most certainly one of the 3DO’s finer points and is quite indicative of the unrealized promise that the system had.