Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side

Eternal Champions: Challenge From the Dark Side (EC: CFtDS) was a semi-sequel to the cartridge original released to the Mega-CD/SEGA-CD in 1995. It was an expansion on SEGA’s project of the time to create a fighting game that would compete with the likes of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat - unless you were a rich kid and playing The King Of Fighters!


The original cartridge version earned decent reviews and settled in the middle ground between the two earning a small following. It did not become the big hit SEGA wanted possibly because it was different in terms of control system and combat style. EC, cartridge or CD version, was never about button mashing nor did it have arcade roots.

Eternal Champions (Mega Drive/Genesis) Eternal Champions (Mega Drive/Genesis)

Eternal Champions (Mega Drive/Genesis)

However, in 1995 images in magazines from the CES showed CGI video footage of some of the characters but very little else though the title was confirmed as Eternal Champions. The initial concern was that this was another FMV-based disc of crap the system was known for.

Eternal Champions CD (CES)

Eternal Champions CD (CES)

Thankfully, concerns were squashed immediately and it was only part of the opening sequences. It was to be a 2D beat'em up. This new enhanced version, completely blew the cartridge version away along with its competitors. The combat system was enhanced, there was at least double the characters, secret characters more fighting modes, and an elaborate fatality system showing some of the goriest (and most amusing) fatalities immediately granting the game a Certificate 15. SEGA even trademarked the specialist type of fatality Cinekill.

Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side

Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side (Mega-CD/SEGA CD)

Not only that, the graphics were boosted creating visually impressive scenes with the colour palette being expanded to 256 simultaneous onscreen colours by using advanced programming tricks on the hardware. It is the only game known to do so. Coupled with a pumping Redbook (CD audio) soundtrack (which could be enhanced with the appropriate outputs to other equipment) and somewhat extensive use of CGI rendering (which was still primitive at the time) it made for one great package that offered plenty of re-playability.

Along with a handful of other games, it was a sign the platform could be used properly for high quality titles. SEGA had finally gave up the FMV based crap. Unfortunately, as such with the addon, and its small base of users, the game never reached a large audience becoming highly over-looked despite rave reviews and marketing in gaming press. SEGA even packaged it in with the Mega-CD II (Europe) in the final months the system was on sale. It was also another reason this game was a surprise because the platform was affectively dead by this point.

Poster in Offical SEGA Magazine

Poster in Offical SEGA Magazine

Apparently, a new EC game was planned for the Saturn and promptly forbidden by SEGA of Japan as they wanted Virtua Fighter to be the best fighting game on the system. They did not have the wisdom to see that 2D fighters still had plenty of life (even to this day) and thus stands as another example of how SEGA got so many things wrong in the 90's.

As with most of the Mega-CD/SEGA CD greats, the game has not been released anywhere else. The cartridge version can be played with emulation though curiously not included in most of the compilations.

It is now a rather sought-after item and complete copies can fetch around £100.

Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side - European Case
Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side Case Scan Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Dark Side Case Scan

"As one of the greatest fighters in history the Dark Champion has challenged you to the most gruesome contest of all time. 13 champions and 11 hidden characters clash heads in this tournament from hell, featuring vicious Overkills and brutally graphic 3D Cinekills. This is not a game for the faint-hearted!"


The full story of the game can be read by selecting Access Info from the games main menu.

From the European Manual


I am the Eternal Champion.

My purpose is to maintain the balance between good and evil, light and darkness, hope and despair. However, the balance has been lost. Soon the very fabric that holds the world together will be torn apart.

Your future, my present, has been destroyed by a cruel and unjust twist of fate. Nine individuals from various periods in time were killed before their lives could affect this dark existence.

I have spent centuries harnessing my power for this special event I am about to call – an event that will challenge these nine against each other for a chance to bring balance to the world. Even with the powers I gained from the martial arts masters that lived before me, I can only reward one of these individuals with the gift of life. Each can have an equally profound effect on the future.

At the end of this contest, only one will remain. The victor will be returned to life, a few seconds before death, with the opportunity to avoid the past with knowledge to change the future.

The balance between good and evil lies in my hands, but I need your assistance. You must let the world know that this contest is being fought to save all of humanity. Let the contest begin…


As with all 1-on-1 beat ‘em ups, the goal is to beat down opponents before they beat you down in a best of 3 rounds wins. Adding extra depth to this otherwise traditional setup in an Inner Strength that allows characters to execute special moves, devastating power combos, and to finish off bouts with an elaborate fatality system giving the majority of characters 4 methods to permanently eliminate their foe in the most horrific ways.

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The game is notorious for being difficult and such allot of imagination will be used to overcome the AI. For example, most air-based attacks (kicks) fail.

Controls can be rather awkward to get used to especially if coming from another of the classic games from the era. A six-button controller of decent quality is highly recommended.

Initially there are 13 characters initially available to play. The group of: Slash, Trident, Xavier, Jetta, Larcen, Shadow, Midknight, Blade and R.A.X are characters that were the line-up of the cartridge version and now have new or enhanced graphics and backgrounds. Some with have new moves also.

New characters initially available are: Ramses III, Riptide, Raven, and Dawson.

Character Select (Initial)

Initial Characters

Beyond that there is also a collection of secret characters and backgrounds to unlock. See Screenshots below.

In addition to the single player story mode, there are several others including 2-Player versus and various tournament modes. They are described below.

Basic/General Controls

This section describes the basic controls for all characters. Their specific moves are detailed later.

The best way to play EC is with a 6-Button controller. If people shelled out the cash for a Mega-CD/SEGA CD they probably bought a 6-Button controller anyway.

Using a 6-Button controller:

D-Pad LEFT and RIGHT are to move in that direction towards or away from an opponent. UP is jump and DOWN is crouch/squat.

BUTTON A is snap which is a light kick.

BUTTON B is thrust which is a medium kick.

BUTTON C is wheel which is a powerful kick.

BUTTON X is straight which is a light punch.

BUTTON Y is lunge which is a medium punch.

BUTTON Z is swing which is a powerful punch.

START is used to pause and resume the game.

Controls can be customised via the games options menu.

When using a 3-Button controller the controls are grouped and switched via the START button thus accessing controls for buttons X, Y and Z is done by pressing START then A,B or C respectively. Press START again to return to the controls of buttons A, B and C.

Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Darkside

Eternal Champions: Challenge From The Darkside

During a fight, on screen at all times will be character health bars, their inner strength orb (equilibrium) (Player 1 on the left and Player 2 on the right), and time remaining. The arena or background they are fighting on scrolls to the left and right to a limited degree further.

Health Bar – Decreases each time your character has been injured either from a physical blow or from the opponent’s energy weapons. The opponent’s health bar is diminished by well-aimed attacks. When there is no health remaining, the fighter is vanquished. There is no way to restore any health.

Inner Strength Orb – Reveals how much strength your fighter has. When full, powers are at their highest and all special moves can be performed. Each attack will consume some inner strength. As the orb diminishes so does the ability to perform special moves. It regenerates over time. The orb flashes when your strength is completely used up. For unlimited strength, set the INNER STRENGTH option to OFF on the OPTIONS menu.

Time – The amount of time remaining before the round is over. When time is over, the warrior with the most health remaining wins.

At the end of a match the final statistics for both characters are displayed consisting of the type and number of attacks and any finishing move used.


Game Specialities

In addition to the standard fighting and various moves, EC: CFtDS adds the following.


Taunting opponents with reduce their inner strength by a small amount.

They are the same for all characters: Buttons X+Z.


Juggling is another trick for skilled players. Juggling refers to hitting opponents, knocking them off the ground, then hitting them again whilst they are still in the air. This forces an unblockable hit, since the opponent cannot block whilst in the air. Juggling can complement combos. It can also be used alone to add an extra hit or two when the opponent cannot block.


Probably the main skill to master to make EC: CFtDS much more playable as the game has never been amount button mashing. If a character is not working for you, then choose another.

A combination is a series of unblockable hits (usually 3 or more) that are strung together. This requires some skill by the player. The CPU will perform these against you often. Watching carefully will show how they are done.

Tip. Most combinations start with a jumping attack and end with a special move or a skill move (likely but not always the case). Some normal moves have built-in combinations of 3 hits; special moves and skill moves have as many as 10. The trick is mixing them together to do your opponent heavy damage.

Power Combos

One of EC: CFtDS unique points at the time requires a rather skilled player, and when executed successfully rewards with 10 seconds of unlimited Inner Strength.

Each character has at least one power combo and how to execute them differs between them.

When activated the inner strength orb will change to the Eternal Champions Bushido's Symbol and there will be an announcement from the Eternal Champion about the accomplishment.

A high-pitch sound indicates a successful power combo has been performed.

They usually dazzle opponents.

When activated do not hold back. Unlimited inner strength is a precious and fleeting thing.


These are personal kills; that is, they are kills generated by one character against another. Each of the 13 (initial) characters has a vendetta move, brutal they are.

Each human character has a personal finishing move which is activated with a button combination that varies from character to character. They can only be activated when a specific condition is met.

To use a vendetta, the player must stun the opponent with 33% health or less, get in close (not too close though), and enter the button combination for the character's Vendetta. Then the music stops and the character kills the other one.

As long as the conditions are met, Vendettas are an instant KO.

The CPU often uses these moves.

Vendettas ultimately relate to the story of the game: Dark Eternal Champion has the power to influence the Champions to kill each other. Each time this happens, the Dark Eternal Champion gets stronger and the Eternal Champion gets weaker.


Cinekills are player activated, similar to vendettas but require a very skilled player. The winner is treated to a full 3D rendered FMV kill of their opponent, compliments of the Dark Eternal Champion.

They are activated in the last round of the match when: a player has performed a power combo to earn unlimited inner strength, beaten down their opponent down to 33% or less, and dazzled them!


Where a player uses part of the background [stage] to execute their opponent. Overkills have been upgraded and are easier to execute than in the original game. In addition, the new backgrounds and the hidden backgrounds have them too.

They are executed when the last hit of the match makes the opponent land on a specific spot in the stage with no health left. This will vary between stages.

Sudden Deaths

Just what they sound like. They are background [stage] activated kills and all backgrounds (including secret ones) have them. They are harder to execute than Overkills but can be done whilst the opponent is still relatively healthy. Mastering these can quickly end a match.

They may be activated if the opponent lands on the activation spot with 33% health or less, not just if the player loses their health.

Hidden / Secret Characters

There are 12 hidden characters in total to unlock.

Once such a character is found their presence will be saved to the systems internal memory.

Some secret characters come with new backgrounds (including background music, overkills and sudden deaths), and others still have their own vendettas.

They require playing the game allot!

They are: Crispy, Slither, Thanatos, Hooter, Zuni, Chin Wo, Yappy, Senator and Thomas 'Blast' Chavez.

Along with 2-Player only characters: Eternal Champion, Eternal Champion 2 and Dark Champion.

Character Select (Complete)

Character Select. All Characters Unlocked (2-Players)

Options / Main Menu

After the title screen, the main menu will provide access to the submenus and the various modes of gameplay.

ENTER CONTEST – Begin a game for a single player. Use the D-Pad to select a difficulty level between Neophyte, Warrior or Champion on the character select screen. Press START to enable the computer to randomly select the first opponent. Press START again to begin the battle. To continue after losing a match press START before the countdown reaches zero.

ENTER DUEL – Two players Vs in a single match. Both players use the D-Pad to select characters. Either player can select GAME OPTIONS to bring up options for the fight.

BATTLE TIME – How long a match will last. Choices are: 30,60 or 90 seconds or N/A (infinite time). When the length of time expires, the fighter with the fullest bar wins.

MATCH CONDITION – Choose how many falls a fighter can take before losing. Options are: 1 of 2, 2 of 3, 3 of 5, 6 of 11 or 11 of 21.

SPEED SETTING – Adjusts the speed of the action to SLOW, NORMAL or OVERDRIVE.

INNER STRENGTH – Toggle the fighters inner strength orb ON or OFF.

PLAYER LEVEL – 1 is least skilled and 8 is most skilled. The higher the number the more damage each hit will do.

CPU LEVEL – 1 through 8.

EXIT – Returns to the main menu.

ENTER TOURNAMENT – Play through a complete tournament. First, options must be selected.

SINGLE PLAYER – Against the CPU.

MULTI-PLAYER – From 2 to 16 players, depending on the tournament. Players will challenge each other and sometimes the CPU.

TEAM PLAYER – From 2 to 16 players depending on the tournament. Players form teams and will challenge each other. Note that not every tournament type is available in every mode.

Next, select the tournament type.

SINGLE ELIMINATION – Each player selects a fighter. Up to 15 CPU-controlled opponents may compete. Contestants start in the outer rung of the tournament tree and must battle their way from the preliminaries (or semi- or quarterfinals if there are less than 16 contestants) to the finals. A loss against any opponent means elimination from the tournament.

Note: In Both SINGLE ELIMINATION and DOUBLE ELIMINATION modes, the top player is the one with Controller #1.

DOUBLE ELIMINATION – Like above, only, with the addition that each fighter can loose two matches before being eliminated.

ROUND-A-BOUT – Players take turns selecting from the stable of fighters, until all players have the same number of characters (4 to 18 each). Players then match-off with their choices, and losing characters are eliminated from the contest. The player who defeats all the other players characters becomes the winner.

ROUND ROBIN – Players take turns selecting from the stable of fighters until all players have the same number of fighters. Each player then begins with their first chosen fighter and battles the other player(s). A victory means the winner can advance to the next character. A loss means the players stays on the same character (character just beaten).

DOMINATOR – First, the players must agree what constitutes a win domination. Next, each player chooses a specified number of fighters. Then the players battle it out alternating characters before each fight. Each victory results in a win icon moving left or right on the win scale. When the win icon advances all the way to one side, that player wins. This is a kind of Tug-o-War, where one player can win all but the last match needed for the other player to drag the win icon back to their side only to have it pulled back again and so on. Dominator tournaments could go on for days...

SURVIVOR – The player or players choose a fighter, then face the CPU characters in single-round matches. After each fighter, players who survive get back one third of their health. Combat continues until one player looses or defeats all characters (not an easy feat!). In two-player competition players alternate against the CPU until one player loses. If both players make it to the end, they will fight in a tie-breaker.

EXPERT SURVIVOR - Similar to above except the player or players amass points for each battle, depending on how well they perform. Points are awarded for time remaining, killing the opponent (fatality), pulling off a power-combo, and so on. In two-player tournaments, winners are decided by points rather than by how far they advance.

POINT MATCH – All players or teams choose a group of fighters and then battle each other until all the characters on one side have fought all the characters on the other side. For example, in 3-on-3 situation tournaments, players fight a total of 9 battles. Players receive 100 points for each win. After all battles have been fought, the points are totalled and a winner is declared.

EXPERT POINT MATCH – As above with the addition that points are awarded for perfect wins, kills and power-combos.

SELL YOUR SOUL – This is the POINT MATCH mode with a twist. After all battles have been fought, each players points are totalled. The percentage of wins is allotted to that player’s health bar for one last battle, with a champion chosen to represent each side. For example, in a 9-battle situation, if one side wins 8 battles, that players health bar will be set to about 88%. The other player who won that battle gets 11%. The winner of this last battle us the winner of the whole match.

POSESSION – Each player chooses characters, who then face off and do battle. Losing characters are not eliminated but instead they are added to the winning side. The player who acquires all characters wins.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE – Players are chosen, they face off, and they battle. The losing character is not necessarily affected but their side certainly is. After a loss, the CPU randomly selects and blows away a fighter from the losing side. The team that survives wins.

SUDDEN DEATH – Characters are chosen, they face off and they fight. Battles are short: 30 seconds and 1 of 1 matches. Losing characters are eliminated. The surviving side wins.

DEATH MATCH – Players choose characters and the players or sides face off. Battles are fought similarly to that of POINT MATCH mode, except that characters, when killed are removed from the battle. At the end of all the matches, the side with the most kills wins.

COUNTDOWN – Similar to SURVIVOR mode, except that characters race against time instead of health loss. Players must defeat all opponents within a pre-set time, or die trying.

After choosing a game mode, some or all of these options can then be set:

NUMBER OF PLAYERS – Choose how many friends will take part.

TEAMS – Set how fighters in team play are grouped.

MATCH CONDITION – Choose how many falls a fighter can take before being eliminated.

NUMBER OF CHARACTERS – Choose how many fighters each player will have.


BIOGRAPHY – Read facts about each character. Use the D-Pad LEFT/RIGHT to select and change characters and UP/DOWN to read the entire biography.

STORYLINE – Read the tale of the Eternal Champion.

CREDITS – View the names of the crew responsible for this magnificent endeavour. (That's the quote from the manual by the way).


CONTROLLER SETUP – Use this option to change the actions of your control pad buttons. The CPU automatically goes to the Player-1 or Player-2 columns depending on which controller is being configured.

Highlight an action with the D-Pad, and then press the control pad button you wish to set that action to. Select EXIT to return to the MAIN MENU.

BATTLE TIME – Choose how long a match will last: 30, 60, 99 seconds, or N/A for an infinite amount of time. When the chosen time expires, the fighter with, the fullest life bar wins the match.

SKILL LEVEL – Choose between 1 (least skilled) and 8 (most skilled). The higher the number, the more damage your fighter will deal with each hit.

GAME SPEED – Set the speed of the action to SLOW, NORMAL or OVERDRIVE.

EXIT – Return to the Main Menu.


Blade Dawson Jetta Larcen Ramses III Rax Riptide Shadow Slash Chin Wo Blast Crispy Hooter Senator Slither Thanatos Yappy Zuni Eternal Champion Eternal Champion 2 Eternal


Unlock Secret Characters Easily

Enter the following codes to unlock secret characters immediately. A 6-Button controller is required.

Use Controller 2 and enter the codes on the blue results screen after a match when "Press START to Continue" appears at the bottom.

Secret Characters Codes




Z, Left, Y, Up, X, B, Mode, Right, Up

Chin Wo

B, Z, Up, Mode, Right, C, B, Up, Y, Up


Mode, Up, C, Up, Mode, Y, Y, Right, Mode, A, Left


X, C, Right, X, B, Right, Z, A, Mode, Up


Right, C, C, Left, Mode, B, Down, X, A, X, Mode


B, Y, Up, Up, C, X, Left, Up, X, Y


Mode, C, Y, A, B, Up, B, B, Y, Z, C


Y, Y, Up, Down, Z, Mode, Down, Z, Up, Up, X


Y, X, Down, B, Mode, Up, X, Up, Up, Left, Z, Up

Eternal Champion

C, Left, Y, B, Mode, X, Right, C, Mode, Down, Down, Right

Eternal Champion 2

X, Z, A, Mode, Down, Left, C, B, Right, Y, Up, Mode, Y, C

Dark Champion

Up, C, B, B, X, Right, Left, C, X, Right, Y, Left, Down

When a character is unlocked (code entry successful), there will be a "ting" (as if moving about the menu). Press START on Controller 1 and let the continue countdown finish. Do not press anything.

The new character will be available on the character select screen. Any unlocked will be saved to the internal RAM.

Note that Eternal Champion, Eternal Champion 2 and Dark Champion are only playable in 2-Player games.

Bonus Video

This code requires a 6-button controller. Wait until the Eternal Champions logo appears during the opening sequence, then immediately press X, B, Z, A, Y, C, Mode, Up, Right, Left, Down, Start. The code must be entered before the phrase "Press Start" is displayed. An FMV sequence featuring the game's development team will be displayed.

Debug Mode

Begin a fight and win or lose. On the blue results screen, using Controller 2 enter:

Y, A, B, B, A, Down, A, B, B, A, Down, Up, Up, Z, Z, Y

A sound will play indicating the input was successful. Then whilst in a match, pause the game and enter the following codes on Controller 1 for their effects.

Debug Mode Codes



A, A, A

Player 1's health becomes critical

B, B, B

Player 2's health becomes critical

C, C, C

Music is turned off (cannot be turned back on)

X, X, X

Both players are healed

Y, Y, Y

Each character receives one-hit damage (this will also make projectile attacks not cause damage)

Z, Z, Z

Inner Strength is restored for both players

Left, Left, Left, A

Both players receive 20% health

Right, Right, Right, A

Player is warped to Eternal Champion stage after match (only works in Contest mode)

Mode, Mode, Mode, A

Player is warped to Dark Eternal Champion stage after the match (only works in Contest mode on Warrior difficulty or higher; also, on Champion difficulty the player will play as the Eternal Champion rather than the character the player chose)


This game can be played with KEGA Fusion, Gens and Gens32 Emulators. These can be downloaded from the Mega CD/SEGA CD Emulators page.

As with the many of Mega-CD/SEGA CD games, the perfect synch option must be enabled.



A review at SEGA-16

Reviews of the Age

Another Review

Cutting Room Floor

A great website detailing some hidden development content.


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