Cardinal Syn

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a game by 989 Studios
Platforms: Playstation, PSX
Editor Rating: 5.1/10, based on 4 reviews
User Rating: 6.7/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Fighting Games, Arcade Games
Cardinal Syn
Cardinal Syn
Cardinal Syn
Cardinal Syn

If you take a quick glance at Cardinal SYN, you just might swear you saw Soul Blade being played. The game features the same type of fighters, backgrounds and style of play as Namco's fighter.

The graphics in this one resemble Soul Blade in that the characters are from a fantasy-type realm, full of different types of warriors. The game features eight fighters at the beginning, with more selectable after they are unlocked.

One thing that stands out about Cardinal SYN is when characters are far away from each other. Like most games, the camera zooms back, but in Cardinal SYN, it can go back what seems to be a half of a mile, creatful though, since it's nearly impossible to see the enemy or your character, but it sure does look cool.

During a fight, you can pick up items by breaking little crates inside the arena. These crates (which are in every stage) have various items that can be used, like some that give more health. Each player has his/her own unique stage that resembles the attitude of the character. The warrior's stage is dark and has torches on the wall--like something out of Conan.

The environments have items in them which can do damage to your character. In one stage mining carts roll by and can run down your character. In another stage, little lava trails can take some of your life bar away if you're not careful.

Download Cardinal Syn


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Cardinal Syn is a sleek, fast fighter that boasts 60 frames-per-second gameplay. a host of sexy fighters, and some refreshingly fast combos. Developed by Kronos, the company behind Dark Rift for the Nintendo 64, the game seems to have another cool gimmick working for it--the directional pad moves you in true 3D fashion, and the game is programmed for use with the analog joystick. But this unfinished beta version put up a couple of red flags. The backgrounds can limit your ability to fight (your sword glances off the walls when you're too close to it): they're interactive in an annoying way (flames shoot from the ground and knock your player down during a fight); and the battlegrounds convey a feeling of claustrophobia because they're so small. Still, Cardinal Syn is a good-looking fighter that could shape up into a solid title and make a worthy addition to any fighting-game fan's library. With some minor cosmetic and game-play improvements, everyone could be guilty of committing a Syn.

It's not hard to make a fighting game these days--or so you would think: Add a few buxom babes, some hack-n-slash gore, occasional fast combo action, and you can sell it sight unseen. But sophisticated gamers are looking for the extras, like depth, 3D interaction, and moves that will make you remember a fighter long after you've finished playing (say "King," and you think "bonecrushing linkers").

Cardinal Syn, unfortunately, takes the first route--it's shallow, the combos aren't extensive, and the backgrounds hinder the action. If this game had been released three months ago, it would have seemed cooler. But inevitable comparisons to Soul Blade will make it difficult for gamers to pardon Cardinal Syn.

Syn does try to throw a few unique features into the melee: fighting stage hazards, power-ups, and a speedy frame rate. Unfortunately, all the window dressing can't disguise this barely standard fighting game. Especially annoying is the level design, which hinders combos when you get close; instead of tearing an opponent to pieces, your weapon harmlessly clangs against the wall. This isn't the kind of action sedative you need--especially in the middle of a heated match. The Syn committed in this game is syn-ple: Mediocrity,


The eye-catching graphics are fast and fluid (hard-to-find qualities in fighting games today), but the special moves are few and lack brilliance. The backgrounds are also well done, but they frequently inhibit the action.


The basic controls are solid, but you won't get a chance to pull off long combos with the walls constantly getting in the way. Furthermore, the A.I. is cheap, allowing too many hits while your opponent struggles to get off the ground.


Quality sound just means you can hear Hecklar's annoying laugh or Mckrieg's farting in stereo. All the standard sword-clashing effects are present, including a few distinctive grunts, groans, and exclamations.

Fun Factor

Syn's basic, and a good gift to your little brother who's clamoring for a "grown-up" game. For seasoned fighters, though, Syn lacks the special flavor of other weapon-based games such as Soul Blade or even Dynasty Warriors.


989 Studios is taking their first stab at the fighting genre with Cardinal Syn. To help the process, they recruited developer Kronos who have had some not-so-great fighting games in the past. With the resources and dollars behind them, can Kronos pull off a good fighting game, or should 989 stick to the sports lineup that they know so well?

Cardinal Syn is a brutal, bloody battle to the death. The mature rating that the game received was well-justified. Be prepared for a real-time, 360-degree weapon-based fighting game that will send the blood splattering in every direction. You can unlock up to 18 different fighters to do battle with, each deadly in its own way and the interactive backgrounds will keep you watching everything, not just your opponent. What is the problem, then? It is a fighting game, that is what.


As I was playing this game, something occurred to me. That something was that I really do not enjoy fighting games much. Sure, I enjoyed Tekken 3, but that's about it. I don't really know why I don't enjoy them and I don't really know when I stopped liking them, but as I played through this game I just kept thinking to myself, "The game isn't bad, but I just don't enjoy playing a fighting game." If you like fighting games, you may want to add a few points to the score because you enjoy this genre. Anyway, with that said, I will try to lay all of the facts out for you and let you decide for yourself if this is a fighting game you would like.

To be a successful fighting game nowadays, you really need to find your niche. You need to do something different from the rest of the crowd or else you will be lumped into a category and that is the beginning of the end. Most fighting games will fall into either the Street Fighter category where combos play a big part in the strategy of the game. Or they may fall into the Tekken category which is the 3D polygon fighters that shoot for the awesome 3D graphics and realistic fighter movements and environments. The last category that a fighter falls into would be the Mortal Kombat category which shoots for blood and gore and shock value. Most games can be lumped into one of these categories or branch off slightly but still follow somewhat closely to these categories. So where does Cardinal Syn fall? A little bit of all of them with some new aspects thrown in for good measures.

This game has a few major selling points that it is looking to push. First and foremost, the game is definitely going for the Mortal Kombat crowd. Let me read you a direct quote from the back of the case. "Torture, mutilation, rivers of blood and bestial howls -- definitely not for the weak at heart." Not only is this on the back of the case, but this is the first thing listed under the Key Features section. Now I don't have a problem with this but I just want to let you know what type of game you are getting into. Personally I like to see the freedom that the game developers have been given with the game. I never really encountered much more than blood splattering all over the place so it was not like M.K. in that you will not see any dismemberment or insides of bodies being removed. It was just basically a lot of red stuff splattering around. You do have the option to turn the blood off if that is not your thing.

One thing that really makes this game different is that the arenas you fight in are actually interactive. They are interactive in two ways. Number one is that there are chests scattered around the arena floor. If you smashed open one of these chests, you are rewarded with either a health power up, a magic power up or magical swords which increase your attack strength. These are great for the game because you can turn the tides on a fight by breaking open one of these chests and replenishing your health or getting the power sword and doing some serious damage to your opponent. The second is that the arenas are interactive in that there are hazards that will seek you out and hurt you. One level has spikes that shoot out from the walls. Another level has a coal car that passes through the middle of the arena and loves to run people over. A third level has pillars that are electrically charged and if you get too close, a beam of lightning will fry your ass. There are plenty of other things in the different arenas that have the same results. This was by far the best part about the game and one of the only things that really sparked my interest in the game.

There are really two key things that make a fighting game either successful or land it in the bargain bin. The first thing that people really look at are the different characters. I mean, think about how important this is to people. They have made movies out of the characters from Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat and rumors say Tekken is not far behind. For some reason, people just really like to get into the different characters in fighting games. Will Cardinal Syn offer the same types of characters that people will really dig latch on to? Hmmm, that is a tough call. On one hand, you have a huge back-story that I am not even going to bother trying to explain, but it turns out that most of the characters are mutants or just plain messed up. You have your bad guys and your good guys that were forced into this just to save their world or something like that. I really can't see Van Damme playing any of these characters in a movie, so I don't think you will see Cardinal Syn The Movie any time soon. Does that make the characters bad? Actually, not at all. It just means that they are not the traditional handsome tough guys or anything, which was also a nice change. These characters were all bad asses and the game designers did a great job of setting up the atmosphere for each of them.

The second thing that people look for in a fighting game is obviously gameplay. While this game was not terrible in gameplay, it was not exactly exciting either. You have your standard high, medium and low attacks along with a block button. You can mix in magic attacks and combos, but you will rarely pull off anything overly spectacular. One of the things that people enjoyed about the Tekken games was that you could pull off some pretty cool moves with only a few button presses. For the more skilled fighters, you could pull off some awesome moves with more complex combos. One of the problems with this game was that the lesser combos were unexciting and the more complex combos did not do much for me either. There was rarely a time that I would find myself asking my buddies "Did you see that?" or commenting on how cool something looked. Most of the moves just seemed to be lacking the spectacular.

Another of my complaints was that since the game was 360-degree 3D, I had difficulty getting my fighter to attack in the correct direction. There was more times than I care to remember that I attacked my opponent and missed so my character ended up completely turned around and wide open for an attack. There seemed to be no easy way to turn around and get my fighter facing the correct direction. Couple that with some slow attack moves and you may find yourself a bit frustrated.


I do have to give the developers credit for the graphics they have achieved. They did a great job of hitting all the little details and the arenas all looked really good. This looks to be one of those games that pushes the PSX 3D capabilities to the max. The ever-present blood did give the game a somewhat brutal feeling and appearance which was what they were shooting for. I really did not ever see much in the way of slowdown, which was pretty incredible considering the size of the final boss that you will fight. I won't give it away, but let's just say that it is very impressive.

Bottom Line

As I was playing through this game, I really did not find much wrong with it, but I just did not enjoy it much either. I finally decided that it was not the game but the genre that I have grown tired of. If you are a fighting game junkie and can never get enough, you should enjoy this game. There is enough variety to keep hardcore fighters happy. If you like the easier combos with more spectacular results, you may not care for this game. I do think that the interactive environments were a great addition but it still does not change the fact that it is a fighting game.

Snapshots and Media

Playstation Screenshots

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