Welcome to another trip down Nostalgia Street. In today’s offering, we’re going to explore one of the finest, most shining examples of programming bullshittery that was ever offered up for the Sega Genesis. I’m of course speaking of Sword of Sodan, and to quote Homer Simpson, it’s “the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.” This makes today’s post kind of a mash-up of Nostalgia and Hate, much like a Partridge Family rerun marathon.
Sword of Sodan was a monster bait-and-switch scheme of pretty graphics on the packaging that seemed intriguing enough for a young Dangerboy to invest some hard-earned paper route money in. It promised swords and sorcery, slashing and swooshing. It failed to deliver, leaving a smoking crater in the psyche of gamers everywhere.
Reads pretty good to a 13 year old. But it's all LIES!!! LIES I tell you!
Mentioning Sword of Sodan to anyone who ever owned a Sega Genesis is guaranteed to produce a grand mal-worthy shudder and maniacal gnashing of teeth every bit as epic in scale as telling a Kardashian that the cameras have been turned off. Somewhere, racing out from the blue marble we call Earth, is the shockwave of gamer anger produced by this steaming pile of mongoose shit that was passed off as a game.
While still shots of the graphics were quite awesome, the movement of those graphics was marionette-jerky, lowering the cool factor exponentially. The blood was laughable, and more resembled early scenes from the movie “The Blob”, or perhaps Jello night at the nursing home. Also, and I realize I’m being nit-picky here, the sword your character used was completely unbelievable, looking more like an oversized barbecue skewer. (This was probably the reason you had to hit every enemy eleventy gazillion times before they’d die.)
The control scheme was obviously designed by people who sold replacement controllers. I must have tossed that controller at the wall more times than Montana tossed touchdowns. When you have to work to even turn your character around, you have a game design team composed solely of bonobos shipped in from darkest Africa, and have paid them in bananas.
Our hero demonstrates the infamous BBQ skewer crotch stab of doom.
The game featured a clunky potion system that was mostly trial-and-error, requiring heavy use of the pause button, and experimental mixing of potions to get an effect. It is perhaps telling that one possible potion effect is to skip an entire level, as if the designers themselves knew you’d be happy to miss out on the fruits of their labor.
There are games you never finish: maybe they’re too difficult, maybe you rented them or borrowed them for a short time. This game went unfinished by many a gamer for one simple reason: it sucked like an Atlantic City hooker using a Dyson while looking at a plecostomus in the aquarium and listening to Justin Bieber.
(Perhaps, at this point, you think I’ve used the word “suck” too many times. You think my writing lazy, possibly. If so, then I know one thing about you. You never played this game.)
For all of its virtues, or lack thereof, Sword of Sodan was valuable in one respect. It served as an early life lesson in caveat emptor, let the buyer beware indeed. From the day I purchased Sodan onward, I never bought a game based solely on the genre and box description. That lesson did little, though, to quiet the Vaderesque howl of “Noooooooooooooooo!” that still lingers softly in the air over Nostalgia Street.