Mace: The Dark Age

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Mace: The Dark Age
Mace The Dark Age box.jpg
Mace: The Dark Age box cover
Developer(s)Atari Games
Midway Games
Publisher(s)Atari Games
Midway Games
Platform(s)Arcade, Nintendo 64
ReleaseNintendo 64
  • NA: October 1997
  • EU: December 1997
Genre(s)Fighting game
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Mace: The Dark Age is a fighting video game released by Atari Games for arcade machines in 1997[1] and ported by Midway to the Nintendo 64 in 1997.


In the 12th century, a collection of nations called the Covenant of Seven send their best warriors to kill Asmodeus, a practitioner of the dark arts who wields the fabled Mace of Tanis. The Mace is imbued with necropotic energy, offering those who wield it a tantalizing promise of ever-lasting life and unbridled power. Leaders from the East sense that Asmodeus is plotting and send their own warriors to eliminate him before it is too late.[2]


The game is similar to Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. and the Mortal Kombat series. Like in Mortal Kombat, when a character wins both rounds, they can perform an execution move on the enemy.

Similar to its contemporary Dead or Alive, in lieu of ring-outs Mace: The Dark Age has arenas which are surrounded by dangerous terrain, causing damage to any character who goes out of bounds.[3] An evade button allows characters to step backward or forward into the 3D environments.[2]


  • Al' Rashid: The master assassin of the Desert Wind, hired by one of the Seven to bring back the Mace of Tanis. He is armed with twin scimitars, said to be forged by the very desert wind itself.
  • Mordos Kull: A legendary mercenary who spent his orphaned youth thinking of revenge against the Seven for killing his family. He is armed with a morning star flail and shield.
  • Koyasha: A young female ninja seeking to kill Asmodeus and test her skills as a master of the art of ninjutsu. She is armed with two straight knives.
  • Lord Deimos: Hundreds of years old, in the Lands of Hell the Red Spiked Devil Knight Lord Deimos rules his people with an iron fist. A member of the Covenant of Seven, he seeks to usurp power to expand his kingdom. He is armed with a large, two-handed Flamberge sword with a fiery blade.
  • Namira: The lost princess-of-Tulwara-turned-vengeful-harem-girl, Namira mastered the deadly art of scimitar fighting from a court eunuch. She is armed with a single scimitar.
  • Ragnar Bloodaxe: The Viking Prince of Torsgard, his village was destroyed by the power-hungry Deimos. He seeks revenge and hopes the Mace can restore his beloved land. He is armed with two single-handled axes, one in each hand.
  • Takeshi Tsunami: A noble samurai and son of the Japanese emperor, Takeshi has been trusted to prevent the evil power of the Seven from spreading to Japan. He also seeks his lost brother Ichiro. He is armed with a long sword.
  • Taria de Castillo: An evil sorceress and the daughter of one of the Covenant of Seven. She aspires to become a demoness and conquer hell itself. She is armed with a straight sword in one hand and a dagger in the other.
  • The Executioner: A freelance torturer who seeks the ultimate power for himself, and a new weapon to inflict pain with. He is armed with a large executioner's axe. His "Axe Hook" attack was nominated for The Golden Bondage Award in Nintendo Power Awards '97.[4]
  • Xiao Long: Disowned and blinded by his father, Xiao was raised by monks and taught to master the Spirit Sense. He vows to destroy evil in all forms, beginning with the Mace. He is armed with a bo staff.

Secret characters:

  • Asmodeus: Only playable through a cheat cartridge. He is the final boss which other characters must defeat, in order to claim the Mace of Tanis.
  • Grendal: A tormented soul trapped in the body of an obsidian gargoyle, Grendal is forced to do the bidding of Asmodeus. He is the twin brother of Taria, who his father believed was the demonic offering he was supposed to offer to maintain his grip on Iberia. He is armed with a stone-clad war hammer.
  • Ned the Janitor: A skin change of Xiao Long to look like a janitor. He replaces Xiao Long on the character select screen through a cheat code. He is armed with a push broom.
  • Ichiro Tsunami: A corrupted samurai looking to take his father's throne in Japan and destroy his brother Takeshi. Like his brother, he is armed with a long samurai sword.
  • Pojo: The Fighting Chicken, transformed by Countess Taria into something more than human, a force powerful enough to rend the very cosmos in her powerful beak. Pojo wages a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the feathered way.
  • Spanky: A dummy used for practice. Spanky can only be accessed in the practice menu.
  • Warmech: Gar Gunderson, master craftsman of the dwarves, pilots a mighty machine built to fight for his people against the tyrannical rule of Lord Deimos. His name in the life bar appears as Gar.
  • Hell Knight: Unlocked on the N64 by default and is a time-bomb release character in the arcade. A minor demon sent to kill Asmodeus and return the Mace of Tanis back to Hell. He is armed with two hellish axes.
  • Sir Dregan: Unlocked on the N64 by default and is a time-bomb release character in the arcade. An undead Crusader and member of the Covenant of Seven, he has turned his back on Asmodeus to learn the whereabouts of his lost soul. He is armed with a straight sword and a shield.


Mace: The Dark Age took roughly two years to develop.[5] The developers created 30 characters, then narrowed them down to a lineup of 11 through focus groups of teenagers.[3] The game was originally released on the arcade machines using the 3Dfx Voodoo graphics card,[6] the same technology powering San Francisco Rush.[7] The latest motion capture technology was used during the game's development.[8] A member of the Atari team who happened to be in the Society for Creative Anachronism did all the motion capture acting.[3] Besides the Nintendo 64 port, a PlayStation version of the game was also planned but never released.[9]


Review scores
GameSpot5.4/10 (N64)[6]
IGN7.1/10 (N64)[10]
Next Generation3/5 stars (ARC)[11]

Mace: The Dark Age was praised mainly because of its graphics. It was also noted for stage interactions with things such as water, and damaging areas such as lava. Next Generation reviewed the arcade version, stating that "Detail and depth on the order of a Virtua Fighter take years of development and practice, and Atari Games has a good start. Mace is a beautifully designed game with attractive characters and bodes well for Mace II."[11]

According to Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot, Mace "looks fantastic but still plays poorly. ... It falls squarely between Dark Rift and War Gods in the realm of 3D fighting on the N64."[6] Matt Casamassina of IGN credited it as the best N64 fighting game at the time of its release, while openly acknowledging that the pool of good fighting games available for the N64 at the time was quite shallow.[10] In 2011, Complex included it on the list of ten "most blatant Mortal Kombat ripoffs, adding, "If anything, it was like a more brutal version of Soul Edge."[12]

Next Generation reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of the game, rating it two stars out of five, and stated that "Ironically, and this is especially disappointing, it's still one of the best fighters on the system to date."[13]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Hot at the Arcades: Mace: The Dark Age". GamePro. No. 101. IDG. February 1997. p. 53.
  3. ^ a b c "NG Alphas: Mace: The Dark Age". Next Generation. No. 26. Imagine Media. February 1997. pp. 99–100.
  4. ^ Nintendo Power #106
  5. ^ Webb, Marcus (September 1997). "A Work of Art". Next Generation. No. 33. Imagine Media. p. 32.
  6. ^ a b c Gerstmann, Jeff (1997-10-15). "Mace: The Dark Age Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  7. ^ "Arcade Hardware". GamePro. No. 105. IDG. June 1997. p. 26.
  8. ^ Total 64 1, page 30.
  9. ^ "Video Game Graveyard". The Official PlayStation Museum. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  10. ^ a b "Mace: The Dark Age". IGN. 1997-10-03. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  11. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 31. Imagine Media. July 1997. p. 174.
  12. ^ "The Klone Wars: The 10 Most Blatant "Mortal Kombat" Rip-Offs Ever". Complex. 2011-04-18. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  13. ^ "Finals". Next Generation. No. 37. Imagine Media. January 1998. pp. 143, 146.

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