|Mode(s)||Arcade, Versus, Practice & team|
Thrill Kill is a cancelled and unpublished 1998 fighting video game for the Sony PlayStation. While the technical feat of allowing four players to fight simultaneously in the same room was to be a major selling point, this was overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the game's depictions of violence and sexual content. Examples of this content include BDSM and fetishistic costumes and acts, limb dismemberment, and violent special moves with names such as "Bitch Slap" and "Swallow This".
As it was essentially completed before it was cancelled and its code leaked onto the internet, it is one of the most widely available and easily playable unreleased games ever made. Discs and downloads containing near-final versions of the game are easy to obtain via the internet and are playable on PlayStation emulators and modded consoles.
History and controversy
Thrill Kill was developed in the late 1990s for the Sony PlayStation by Paradox Development, now Midway Studios - Los Angeles. There was much hype surrounding the game, billed as the new Mortal Kombat, and expectations were high in the gaming community. The original publisher was to be Virgin Interactive, which was acquired by Electronic Arts Pacific for £122,500,000 in the late summer of 1998.
By this point Thrill Kill had already finished development in entirety, and a California-based industrial band, Contagion, had even recorded numerous songs and an entire score for the game (which later ended up on their album "Infectant"). A few weeks before shipping, the game was cancelled by EA because they didn't want to "publish such a senselessly violent game", as they felt that it would harm their image. They also stated that they deemed the game so offensive that they would not even attempt to sell the game to be released by another publisher either.
Later, former employees that had worked on the game released the full game onto the internet, along with various beta versions, and bootlegs of the game flooded the market and were still seen by a large share of its original intended audience nevertheless. All files are still widely available through filesharing, and playable through emulators.
Gameplay consisted of a closed 3D room where up to four opponents would fight to the death, and proceed to finish each other off with Thrill Kills, much like the fatalities of Mortal Kombat. Every attack made will result in a character's bloodlust to rise. Instead of the usual life bar, characters build up a "kill meter". Once this meter was full, and therefore bloodlust at its strongest, a player's character would be electrocuted to give them superhuman strength enabling a Thrill Kill move to brutally slay an opponent, depending on what button was pressed upon grabbing someone.
Ten damned souls have died and descended into Hell. This modern-day Hell is based on the real world of today's deviants. The characters are the physical manifestations of their mental illnesses or the evil hidden within their mortal selves. Each character has been a murderer, usually after their said illness/evil inner self. Marukka, the Goddess of Secrets, is bored of her usual routine and decides that it would be entertaining to pit all of the characters against one another in a fighting tournament with the prize being reincarnation. Each character is battling for nothing more than self-preservation and the hope of being reborn.
The controversy surrounding the game raised the interest of Thrill Kill in the gaming community greatly, helping bootleg copies of the game to become very common. In their September 2004 issue, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine cited Thrill Kill as one of the most overrated cancelled games, stating "It got lots of hype. But it really sucked, too."
The Thrill Kill engine was later used in numerous other games. It was used to make Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style (released on October 31, 1999 by Activision) a game based on the rap group Wu-Tang Clan. While violent, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style had less objectionable content than Thrill Kill, and was poorly received. The Thrill Kill engine was later used in two-player form for X-Men: Mutant Academy (released on July 11, 2000 by Activision), X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 (released on September 17, 2001 by Activision) and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots Arena (released on November 30, 2000 by Mattel).
In 2009, GameInformer ranked Thrill Kill tenth on a list of "The Top Ten Games That Almost Were." In 2011, GamePro ranked The Imp fourteenth on a list of "The 50 Best Fighting Game Characters Ever."