Review - The Eye of Typhoon

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Review - The Eye of Typhoon

Post by goldenband » Sat Jul 17, 2021 2:59 am

It seems an utterly quixotic thing to do, reviewing an ultra-rare Korean 3DO game on a message board with almost no traffic anymore. But I'm going to do it anyway. :mrgreen: Plus with the recent fan translation of Battle Blues, it strikes me as timely to take an interest in these Korean exclusives.

Of course there's no need for me to go over the absolute basics, since sites like Codex Gamicus and Hardcore Gaming 101 have covered those. If you're familiar at all with The Eye of Typhoon, you'll already know the backstory of this fighting game developed in Korea. Heavily influenced by SNK's fighters as well as Street Fighter II, it was originally developed with the Neo Geo MVS in mind.

However, The Eye of Typhoon's release on that platform was mysteriously canceled (though a prototype is hoped to exist somewhere), and ultimately the game only came out on 3DO and DOS. And it barely got released at that, as The Eye of Typhoon seems to be the rarest and/or most valuable game for the 3DO (maybe some Japanese industrial disc or educational game is rarer, but certainly not more sought-after). It enjoyed mythic status, unplayed by anyone outside of a few very lucky Koreans, until some kind soul...brought it to a wider audience, let's say. :wink:

Codex Gamicus can give you the names of the game's 12 playable characters and 2 bosses. Some are totally unmemorable, or are obvious clones of Street Fighter II characters like Chun Li and Vega/Balrog/Claw, but then you have a wild card like Natasha, the absurdly buxom Russian giantess. CG will also tell you that the 3DO version includes a goofy, unnecessary FMV intro with cheap polygonal character models, which is in no way reflective of the completely 2D gameplay.

Anyway, how does the darn thing play? Well, booting up The Eye of Typhoon won't impress the first-time player. For starters, there's no options menu of any kind -- you get one control configuration (A+B+C+R are your attack buttons), one difficulty level, one set of match parameters (the usual 3 rounds, and 60 seconds per round), and that's it. The only choice you get, other than picking your character, is between the conventional "SINGLE" player mode, and the "TEAM" mode, which I haven't tried but seems to be some sort of tag-team affair.

Still, as you select your character, wait through a very brief loading time, and catch your first glimpse of the stage, things certainly look OK and even like a typical SNK game -- or, at least, a high-quality SNES port of one. Maybe this'll be some sort of off-brand Samurai Shodown in the rough?

Well, all hopes of that kind are soon dashed. First of all, when the announcer's voice proclaims the start of your battle, you'd expect to see your two fighters bouncing expectantly in their idle stances while a restless crowd awaits. Instead, you get still images with no animation in the foreground or background. (What is this, Plumbers Don't Wear Typhoons?)

And once the fight actually begins, there's no mistaking the fact: The Eye of Typhoon operates at a fraction of the framerate to which we're accustomed. We're not talking 30fps or even 20fps, but probably something in the 15fps range, I'm guessing. Sure, it scales in and out, but playing the game -- even on real hardware with no disk read issues -- is like seeing an emulator from the 1990s with frameskip turned on.

Now, either you can forgive that or you can't (and no one can blame you if you can't: the 3DO may not be a 2D powerhouse, but we know it can do better than this). But if you can, you'll find that The Eye of Typhoon clearly has a 100% respectable fighting game engine underneath the hood. I've played some bad fighting games, and this is emphatically not one of them.

Is it a work of genius? Hardly, nor is it particularly original: any Street Fighter II veteran can pick up the controls and know at least half the moves for Hoya, the game's Ryu clone, immediately. But the moves respond with above-average consistency, and there are a couple curveballs thrown in there -- Hoya has a few tricks that Ryu doesn't.

The fighting itself seems to have been programmed by people who knew what they were doing. Of course, I'm not a SNK fighting game expert -- most of my play time has been spent on ports, and not necessarily the good ones. (Looking at you, Fatal Fury Special on the Sega CD.)

But to me, this plays like a SNK game, and one of the more polished ones (i.e. not Art of Fighting, where the special moves don't work half the time). Are there times that, in my opinion, they missed an opportunity to (for example) have a weak jab counter a special attack? Sure, and there are some moves that feel overpowered as a result. But gameplay-wise, The Eye of Typhoon is batting in the same league as Samurai Shodown and Super Street Fighter II Turbo, not Ballz and Way of the Warrior. I'm not saying it's the league MVP, but it's well above the "not an embarrassment" tier and is knocking on the door of the "really very respectable" tier.

I should mention the game's gimmick: you get three scrolls at the start of each round that let you launch extremely powerful super attacks that do a devastating amount of damage. You can and do earn more as the round progresses, though I'm not sure exactly how. In the absence of a move list, I never did figure out how to launch them consistently. I played as Hoya, and by the time I started understanding the scope of his move set, I was too busy trying to keep him alive to start trying random stuff out.

That brings up the game's difficulty, which is a weird mix of "tough as nails" and "trivially easy". The game starts out at a low difficulty, but then cranks it up to max after your first win. Lose that match and use one of your (thankfully unlimited) continues, and the difficulty resets -- at least at first. Later on, though, it stays high: once I'd cleared around half to 2/3 of the game's roster, the game was cutting me no slack whatsoever. Continuing also means your next opponent is randomly selected, so you won't get stuck on the same opponent for match after match (unless they're the only one left).

The first time I played The Eye of Typhoon today, I lasted about 20 minutes before giving up in frustration, as I was getting owned left and right by the CPU. When I came back later that day, either I was playing better or the CPU was randomizing things, as I was regularly winning 2-3 matches at a stretch.

However, that certainly wasn't the case when I got down to the last two opponents -- Chohong and Nelson, I believe -- and had to make 7-8 attempts on Nelson, and 20+ on Chohong, before reaching the bosses. These weren't consecutive since, again, after each continue the game would randomly switch back and forth between the two; that was mildly annoying -- since I would begin to get the hang of one and then have to play the other -- but only mildly.

As for the bosses, Powell and Mahasvara, they show up only after you've beaten everyone else. Each one has two forms, with the second form triggered on a per-match basis after you win a round, though Powell's change is only cosmetic. Mahasvara, on the other hand, is sort of two bosses in one, with the second form much tougher than the first.

Still, Mahasvara is relatively easy, whereas Powell is ferociously difficult and a cheap bastard until you learn the trick to beating him (which basically amounts to "block everything and sweep kick him after he jumps over you"). Powell and Chohong were, by far, the hardest adversaries in the game, though others like Tlaloc can be tricky until you realize the weakness in the CPU's pattern for them.

All in all, I'm glad to have played The Eye of Typhoon and seen it through to the end -- one of very few people to have done so, I'd imagine, even now. If it weren't for the tragically poor framerate this could be a very good ambassador for the 3DO's library.

There are signs that the port was rushed, like the lack of an options menu, some unevenness in the volume levels of sound effects and music, and the cheap-looking loading screens (though that seems to have been a mid-1990s thing). I also noticed some junk tiles in the right-hand side of the playfield -- either storage of unused assets, or random garbage -- though I don't remember whether those tiles were visible on a CRT (I usually play on one, but was playing on a RetroTink 2X + Vizio flat-panel today). On the other hand, loading times are excellent.

My overall impression is that, in all likelihood, the 3DO version of The Eye of Typhoon is a pale shadow of a much smoother Neo Geo original. So in a way, I hope someday this 3DO port is obsolete and that we get to see the game as it was meant to look, with what ought to have been 60fps animations and superior backgrounds. (Let's hope that's a safe assumption: if it didn't have 60fps on the Neo-freakin'-Geo, then no wonder it was canceled!)

Until then, though, I'm very glad this 3DO version exists. I had fun with it -- mostly (there was some swearing now and then) -- and beating the game was a satisfying experience.

Oh, and not that it matters for a fighting game, but the whole thing is in English! Hey, Limited Run Games, maybe you should be republishing this one instead of Plumbers Don't Wear Ties?

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Re: Review - The Eye of Typhoon

Post by Julz » Tue Aug 17, 2021 3:12 pm

goldenband wrote:
Sat Jul 17, 2021 2:59 am
It seems an utterly quixotic thing to do, reviewing an ultra-rare Korean 3DO game on a message board with almost no traffic anymore. But I'm going to do it anyway. :mrgreen:
I'm here! Thanks for the review!

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Re: Review - The Eye of Typhoon

Post by goldenband » Thu Aug 26, 2021 11:54 pm

Awww, thanks! I very much appreciate it. :)

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Re: Review - The Eye of Typhoon

Post by tinman » Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:17 pm

I've got the REAL3D0player app on my LG phone and this is one of the games I occasionally play on it, when I can't play it at home.

Even with a moves list its still ridiculously hard to play, then again it could be my cell phone/mobile, although I am finding certain characters are open to certain moves whilst others aren't.
I haven't even got close to the bosses and like you no idea how to use those scrolls.

Keep up the good work though, keep the 3do alive! 8)


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Re: Review - The Eye of Typhoon

Post by Trev » Sat Mar 12, 2022 5:59 pm

Since LRG is doing a 3DO print of this I was looking to read some more about it. Thanks for the review.
Most wanted - Eye of Typhoon, 3DO Magazines issues #14 & #15, Pro Stadium, Defcon 5

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