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Five Gruesome Facts About Time Killers
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 05, 2012   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  

   

Time Killers (Genesis)
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SERIES: Time Killers (1992)

GAMOGRAPHY: Incredible Technologies only made one Time Killers arcade game, which was later ported to only one game system (the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive).

THE BASICS: Borne out of the success of Street Fighter II, Time Killers tried its hardest to out-gross Mortal Kombat. Each of the game's eight characters came equipped with a deadly sword, axe or club, making this one of the earliest weapon-based fighting games. Although the game was trashed by critics, the arcade version made enough money to warrant a home console port. These days the only time it's mentioned is when video game magazines and sites assemble their list of worst fighting games of all time.

It's Essentially Eternal Champions
In Time Killers, Death brings some of the greatest warriors together from all across space and time. These figures are made to fight for survival, which often ends in a mess of bloody arms and legs. Sound familiar? It should, because it's basically
the same plot as Sega's Eternal Champions series. And that's not the only similarity. Both games mask sub-par fighting mechanics with gallons of blood and gore.

Eternal Champions fans will also recognize the cast of characters in Time Killers. You get Orion, a futuristic fugitive that looks a lot like R.A.X. Coswell. Matrix is not unlike Jetta. And there's even a caveman that looks almost exactly like Eternal Champions' Slash. Usually I wouldn't make such a crass comparison, but this is Time Killers we're talking about. Comparing this bottle of sewage water to a popular Sega fighting game can only be taken as a compliment.

From the Makers of Golden Tee
Given the low quality of Time Killers, it shouldn't surprise anybody that the game wasn't made by a company known for 2D fighting games. Despite there being so many to choose from, the sad fact is that
it's incredibly hard to make a good fighting game. It's about more than fireballs and roundhouse kicks; the developer needs to be able to juggle great gameplay with balanced mechanics to keep players coming back. Incredible Technologies learned this lesson the hard way.

While you might not know them by name, Incredible Technologies is best known for their popular line of bar-friendly sports games. Their biggest hit is Golden Tee, though you have probably bumped into everything from World Class Bowling to Big Buck Hunter. There's a world of difference between making a gimmicky golf simulator and a fighting game that can compete with the likes of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II. That's not to say that a company can't make that leap, but that wasn't the case for Incredible Technologies and Time Killers.

The Console Port Was Delayed For Years
Although completed in 1993, it was several years before Genesis owners were able to chainsaw their friends in the comfort of their own homes. Here's a situation that you can blame on crummy timing. Just as the game was nearing
release, the entire video games industry was turned upside down with Congressional hearings and negative media attention. The reaction to Mortal Kombat, Night Trap and Lethal Enforcers spooked publishers of ultra-violent games, which included the hideous Genesis port of Time Killers.

For years the game sat on the shelf, waiting for the perfect time to unleash the blood storm of crap on unsuspecting Genesis owners. It turns out that the perfect time was 1996, a full year after the release of the Sega Saturn (and at least three years since anybody cared about Sega's 16-bitter). By that time most game magazines had moved on from reviewing Genesis games, but that didn't stop a few scathing reviews from slipping by. Thankfully most people avoided the torture of Time Killers on the Genesis. You lucky bastards.

There's Only One Fatality
There was a time in the 1990s when every game was racing to raise the bar with gruesome fatalities. Apparently the makers of Time Killers went the other direction. Inexplicably, Time Killers only features one fatality. Oh sure, the eight characters go about performing that finishing move in slightly different ways, but the end result is identical each and every time.


The lack of multiple fatalities underlines the game's main problem. While it has the shock factor nailed, the game lacks heart. The whole venture seems lazy, especially when compared to what Midway was doing at the time. Giving each character a different fatality doesn't just add variety, it also offers a new layer of depth to each character. But you don't get that here; instead the fatality has been reduced to seeing arms, legs and heads chopped off.

It Has a Pseudo-Sequel
In a perfect world a game this bad would be put out of its misery as quickly as possible. Sadly, this is not a perfect world. Instead of realizing that they had one of the worst fighting games of all time on their hands, Strata decided to release a pseudo-sequel in 1994. Blood
Storm doesn't feature any of the original eight Time Killers and has a completely different story, but there are enough similarities in the look and gameplay mechanics to connect these two horrible fighting games.

To make matters worse, at several points the developers threatened to make a sequel. Thankfully Strata closed down before Blood Storm II found its way into the arcades, yet again we were spared. Time Killers and Blood Storm both prove that you need more than gallons of blood and guts to make people notice. The Mortal Kombat franchise wasn't a fluke; it had a strong execution that Strata's fighting games couldn't match. Even if you don't consider Blood Storm a true sequel, we can all agree that one Time Killers game is more than enough.

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