In 1992, an arcade game was released which was so violent that it upset responsible parents everywhere. A game where you could rip your opponent's spinal cord out, punch him in the nuts, or impale him with a spear. A game that used digitized actors in order to make the violence looks more realistic than it ever had before. A game that proudly ushered in a new era of video game violence. That game was called Mortal Kombat. It kicked ass. And whenever a game kicks ass, it usually spawns cheap imitators. Like, say, Time Killers. Time Killers was also released in 1992 and it's very obvious that the game was thrown together as a quick attempt to cash in on the violence craze that Mortal Kombat spawned. Let's compare and contrast:


      As you can plainly see, Mortal Kombat had graphics which were state of the art back in 1992. Meanwhile, Time Killers looks like a 6th grader's art class project. It's a mean thing to say, but it's true. Street Fighter 2 came out almost a full year before Time Killers and it had noticeably better graphics than Time Killers. This game seriously looks as though someone scanned hand-drawn pictures into a computer and then colored them in using Microsoft Paintbrush.  Sadly, that's probably not too far off from what they actually did.

      The problem isn't simply that the graphics are primitive. Good graphics do not automatically make a good game. Halo had great graphics, but that didn't change the fact that it was a stale, repetitive 3D shooter with no real draw. It had boring characters, boring enemies, boring weapons and a multiplayer mode that can only be described as exceptionally ordinary. But Halo had the vehicles!!!  Yeah, Halo had vehicles. Excuse me while I make the universal sign for handjobs. On the other hand, dated graphics don't hold back a good game. Many of the old NES classics still stand the test of time: Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania, Contra, the list goes on and on. No, the problem with Time Killers is that there's no subtlety. The development teams at Midway and Capcom spent lots of time and effort creating detailed backdrops for their characters to fight in. Ryu and E. Honda aren't fighting in front of a background, they're fighting in an environment. It takes many hours of game play before you notice every little thing that's been put into a Street Fighter level. There is no such attention to detail in Time Killers.

      OK, so the game doesn't have great graphics. The game also doesn't have any plot to speak of. Eight arbitrary champions from throughout history have been pulled out of time and coerced into fighting each other for dominance. But it could still have interesting characters, right? RIGHT??? Take a look for yourself...


      The caveman. Every fighting game needs a big slow character who is nearly unplayable. Thugg is that man. Thugg is a popular selection among FUCKING IDIOTS. Thugg big! Thugg smash! No, Thugg sucks.


      The viking. The digitized voice on the selection screen pronounces his name "Life", which once again demonstrates just how half-assed this game was. Leif is also big and slow, but he is somewhat less slow than Thugg. This character would have been a lot cooler if it was a hot viking chick instead of a big hairy guy.


      The knight. Wülf tells the other Time Killers that he's from Camelot, 1202 AD, but he is a fucking poser. Wülf was born in 1978 in Trenton, New Jersey. He is the lead singer of a Ronnie James Dio tribute band and he is afraid of spiders. He bought his sword at King Richard's Renaissance Faire and it is mostly used for decorative purposes.


      The samurai. Originally they wanted to have a ninja in the game instead of a samurai. Unfortunately, the guy they hired could only draw samurai, so that's what they got.


      The token black guy. Christ, I'm already bored with writing descriptions of these guys. Orion is one of the fastest characters, but he sucks as a human being. He's a pathological liar and he owes me $12.


      The tough, unattractive chick. She's the same fucking character as Orion, only with tits. There's no discernible difference between an electrosabre and a photon blade. Nor is there one between 2885 AD and 3297 AD. They're just arbitrary dates in the future that no one can visualize. Just like 1984.


      The stupidass purple bug thing. She sucks. Did Time Killers really need 3 characters from outer space? Absolutely not, especially when there are so many other clichés they could have used. Where are Chief Peacempipe and Shootzie the Rapper? What about Crazy 'Nam Veteran, Dracula, or Powdered Wig Guy? Joseph Stalin also would have been a good choice.


      The punk. Why is it that any time there's a punk in a video game, it supposedly takes place in the future? You're not fooling anyone, Rancid. You're from friggin' 1983. Rancid is also the best character in the game for one simple reason: HE GETS A FUCKING CHAINSAW. Rancid was by far the most popular character in this game. He was everyone’s first choice, which led to a ridiculous amount of Rancid versus Rancid matches. Other characters usually only saw play when someone felt the need to experiment. Anyone who claims that Rancid was NOT their favorite character is a liar or an idiot.


      Despite all its failings, Time Killers is actually a pretty fun game. Not a good game, mind you, but fun nonetheless. Yes, the graphics, the plot, and most of the characters suck. The controls aren't all that great either. However the game has one major draw (besides the chainsaw): you can cut off players' arms in combat. Not only that, it's ridiculously easy to do. Just hit the other player with your weapon a few times and an arm is bound to come flying off. If you manage to cut off BOTH your opponent's arms, you limit his attacks to just headbutts and kicks. If you win after both your arms have been cut off, you get a big point bonus. You also get to mercilessly taunt the player who got his ass handed to him by a paraplegic.


      Slicing off other people's arms without any effort whatsoever is pretty damn fun. It would be much more fun if you could slice off their heads though. Guess what? You can! And it's just as easy as cutting off arms. Every character has an instant death move. In fact every character has the exact same instant death move: press all 5 attack buttons at once and the character goes into his or her autokill. If it connects, your opponent's head will come flying off.


      As it turns out, this game has an end boss. In a battle filled with empty symbolism, you must fight Death. Yeah, that's some deep metaphorical shit right there. Don't stay up all night thinking about it. Unlike some other, better fighting games, Time Killers doesn’t give you any sort of plot outline in attract mode. It also doesn’t bother to provide a plot during actual gameplay either. Luckily, the game was ported to the Genesis. The handbook offers this amazing gem:

      Death plucks each hero from the time stream at the moment of victory. He approaches the heroes separately, disguised as Chronos, Master of Time and Messenger for Good.  Death lies to each mortal, spinning moral fantasies and catering to individual secret desires.  Death convinces each warrior to fight seven messengers of Death throughout the time stream in order to defeat evil and preserve Life.  A promise of immortality is offered to each mortal if he or she is successful in this false mission.  The TIME KILLERS heroes, still fatigued and disoriented from their previous encounters, believe the Master of Deceit and agree to meet the challenge.

       Death has orchestrated events that will pit eternity's greatest warriors and Death's greatest enemies against each other. Whichever TIME KILLERS warrior survives these bloody battles will have to face a fully powered and vengeful Death in his own dark underworld. Will Death be victorious and reclaim a hold on All That Is? Or will one of the TIME KILLERS heroes overcome the power of this prime force and become forever immortal? Only time will tell...

Wait… so I wasn’t supposed to know it was Death? Nice disguise, asshole. Gee, I never would have fucking guessed that some creepy robed figure holding a scythe was the Grim Reaper. The worst part is, the Time Killers actually bought into it. What an incredibly bad premise. I think I may have just lost my faith in humanity. Aside from being a master of disguise, Death is also an incredibly cheesy opponent. He can kill you in 4-5 hits and knock off a limb with one swipe of his scythe. Not only that, but in the second round, HE WILL NOT DIE. You can reduce his life bar to zero over and over again, but he will keep regenerating it. In order to win you need to either decapitate him or beat him best out of three at Milton Bradley’s Battleship.


      Once you defeat Death, you become immortal. Sadly it doesn’t do you any fucking good because the game is over. Yes, your long pointless adventure is finally finished. Along the way, you got to brutally mutilate a bunch of people. And in the end, isn't that what really matters?


      So there you have it. Time Killers is a game that history has already forgot. During its brief run, it was overshadowed by the far superior Mortal Kombat. Of course, since Time Killers was an MK rip-off, that's not particularly surprising. When looked at in its own right, Time Killers is not such a bad game. After all, it did innovate limb removal. Time Killers also obtained slightly more notoriety than Mortal Kombat for a brief period. Its violence was much more accessible than the MK fatalities, which led to many TK consoles being removed from arcades. The MK fatalities were graphic, but they were also very hard to figure out. After all, this was 1992; we didn't have FAQs at our disposal. If Time Killers had been backed by a major gaming company like Midway, it might have survived. Instead, it was released by Strata, a company whose only other claim to fame is Golden Tee. Although far from perfect, Time Killers was a good first effort. If given the chance, it probably could have been built into a half decent franchise. As it stands, it was at least a better game than Sega's shitty Eternal Champions.


Posted by: Syd Lexia