Dark Rift

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Dark Rift
European Nintendo 64 cover art
Developer(s) Kronos Digital Entertainment
Publisher(s) Vic Tokai
Designer(s) Stan Liu
Albert Co
Matt Arrington
Andy Koo
Ted Wornock
John Paik
Platform(s) Nintendo 64, Microsoft Windows
  • NA: July 10, 1997 (N64)
  • NA: October 22, 1997 (PC)
  • JP: March 27, 1998 (N64)
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Dark Rift is a 3D fighting video game for the Nintendo 64, notable for being the first N64 game to use 60 frames per second.[1] It has been referred to as the Nintendo 64's first native fighting game,[2] though in actuality it is a port of a cancelled Sega Saturn game.[3][4] In addition, it was originally announced that the Microsoft Windows version of the game would precede the Nintendo 64 version by one month.[5]

It was originally announced under the title "Criticom II",[6] and is the second of three fighting games developed by Kronos Digital, falling between Criticom and Cardinal Syn.


Players choose from eight playable characters to start; there are also two hidden characters which are unlocked by completing the game in single-player mode.[7] Fights go for a default three-out-of-five rounds, as opposed to the more conventional two-out-of-three.[2]


Dark Rift takes place far in the future, sometime after the events of Criticom. Gameplay spans three dimensions: the Neutral Dimension (where Earth is located), the Dark Dimension (home to demons), and the Light Dimension (home to energy beings). Although the creatures of the Dark Dimension are demonic, there is no indication that the inhabitants of the Light Dimension have any angelic qualities.

The crystal (the acquisition of which is the main motivation of the characters of Criticom) turns out to be the Core Prime Element of a Master Key, one which holds the power to all the secrets in the universe. The Master Key was found eons ago lodged in a spatial tear. When it was retrieved it burst into three pieces, sending two pieces into alternate dimensions, and widening the tear into the game's namesake Dark Rift.


Stan Liu (head and founder of Kronos) said "we got stuck doing fighting games for a while simply because we were one of the very few U.S. game developers that actually made a fighting game. Hence, Dark Rift and Cardinal Syn."[8]

Unlike its predecessor Criticom, motion capture was used to create all the fighter animations in Dark Rift.[9] The animation work was directed by Ted Warnock, whose background was in traditional animation.[7]


Review scores
AllGame1.5/5 stars (N64)[10]
3/5 (PC)[11]
EGM5.625/10 (N64)[13]
GameSpot5/10 (N64)[2]
IGN5.4/10 (N64)[1]
Next Generation3/5 stars (N64)[14]

Dark Rift received generally mixed reviews. A number of critics deemed it a dramatic improvement over Kronos's previous fighting game, Criticom.[1][14][15] Doug Perry of IGN, for example, concluded that "Kronos has overcome its Criticom syndrome: the level of character detail is there, the many chained combos, the feel of the game, the variety of fighters and fighting styles are all good. Dark Rift shines through its weaknesses, and, for the time being, can be called the best fighter on Nintendo 64."[1] The most widely praised aspects were the graphics[13][2][1][15] and animation;[13][2][1][14] Shawn Smith of Electronic Gaming Monthly went so far as to compare it to Virtua Fighter 3 (a game which ran on cutting edge arcade hardware) in this respect. However, he and his three co-reviewers further commented that the game is weak in every other respect,[13] and Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot said that it "feels like a Virtua Fighter-inspired mishmash of monsters, demons, and guys with guns. The graphic effects are the only things that save Dark Rift from falling below average."[2] By contradiction, Perry and a Next Generation critic both highly praised the character designs, particularly Demonica and Morphix.[1][14]

The specific criticisms of the game varied. Doug Perry and EGM's Dan Hsu said that the projectiles are slow to the point of being useless.[13][1] Edge criticized Dark Rift for lacking original features, calling it an average fighting game that "fails to produce a single surprise or elicit one impressive moment of action."[12] Scary Larry at GamePro found the combos too difficult to perform, but nonetheless deemed Dark Rift "a fast, fun, polygon-based 3D fighting game that's imaginative with its use of graphics, and may break ground for other poly-fighters like Tekken on the N64."[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Doug Perry (1997-07-10). "Dark Rift". IGN. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e f July 10, 1997 12:00AM PDT (1997-06-30). "Dark Rift for Nintendo 64 Review - Nintendo 64 Dark Rift Review". Gamespot. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  3. ^ "Dark Rift". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 84. Ziff Davis. July 1996. p. 77.
  4. ^ "E3: Dark Rift". GamePro. No. 95. IDG. August 1996. p. 49.
  5. ^ "In the Studio". Next Generation. No. 24. Imagine Media. December 1996. p. 17. Dark Rift has been penciled in for launch in April '97, one month after the title appears on PC.
  6. ^ "Video Games PC Xbox 360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2 PlayStation 2 GameCube GBA PlayStation 3". GameSpot. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  7. ^ a b "Dark Rift". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 95. Ziff Davis. June 1997. p. 78.
  8. ^ "Interview with Stan Liu – Part 1". GameCritics.com. 2001-04-04. Archived from the original on August 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  9. ^ "Dark Rift". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 91. Ziff Davis. February 1997. p. 52.
  10. ^ Wigmore, Glenn (2010-10-03). "Dark Rift". AllGame. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  11. ^ Wigmore, Glenn (2010-10-03). "Dark Rift". AllGame. Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  12. ^ a b "Dark Rift". Edge. No. 49. Future Publishing. September 1997. p. 82.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Review Crew: Dark Rift". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 95. Ziff Davis. June 1997. p. 43.
  14. ^ a b c d "Finals: Dark Rift". Next Generation. No. 31. Imagine Media. July 1997. p. 155.
  15. ^ a b c "Nintendo 64 ProReview: Dark Rift". GamePro. IDG. July 1997. p. 80. Archived from the original on February 14, 2005. Retrieved 2012-06-25. Full review content appears only in printed version.

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