|Platform(s)||Arcade, Sega Genesis|
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players simultaneously|
|Display||Raster, horizontal orientation|
Time Killers is a 1992 weapon-based fighting arcade game developed by Incredible Technologies and published by Strata. Along with Allumer's Blandia, Time Killers is one of the earliest weapon-based fighting games modeled after Capcom's Street Fighter II (1991). It was later overshadowed by the success of SNK's 1993 weapon-based fighting game, Samurai Shodown. In Time Killers, eight characters from different periods in history face off with each other, and then Death, for a chance at immortality.
A home port for the Sega Genesis was released four years after the arcade version, after having been delayed and even cancelled for a time. It was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews.
Time Killers plays much like Mortal Kombat, with some similarities to Street Fighter II. Rather than the standard layout of punches and kicks of various strengths, a specific button is used to attack with the corresponding body part: left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, and the head. A stronger attack can be executed by pressing both limb buttons at the same time. The attack buttons involving respective arms and legs are also the basis of BloodStorm as well as Namco Bandai's Tekken series, the 2011 Mortal Kombat game, and Bio F.R.E.A.K.S..
If enough damage is done to an arm, it will be severed from the character's body, rendering it useless in combat. A character can lose both arms in the same round, forcing them to fight with only legs and head and depriving them of the ability to block. Damage can also be done to the legs, but they cannot be severed.
The player may attempt a "Death Move" by pressing all five buttons at once. If successful, the attack cuts off the opponent's head and ends the round immediately; however, it can be blocked. A "Super Death Move" is also possible, but can only be executed while near a stunned opponent; the player holds the joystick toward the opponent and presses all five buttons, cutting off both arms and the head. Both of these moves differ from the "Fatalities" in Mortal Kombat in that they may be attempted at any time, rather than after winning two out of three rounds. Severed limbs and heads are restored after each round.
Each of the characters in the game hails from a different period, bringing his/her own origins and weapons into the battle. The handbook that was made for the game goes into detail that explains the origins and background of each. A few of the characters are based on historical figures and legends.
Thugg (20,000 B.C.) – A large, very powerful prehistoric caveman who wields a stone axe, having emerged from beyond "The Edge". He led a fierce and bloody battle against a reptilian alien race known as the Troglodytes, who were harvesting humans as cattle for food and slavery.
Leif (829 A.D.) – An adventurous Viking who carries a large battle axe. He was a constant thorn in the side of the mysterious and undead legions of the Black Army, led by Black Thorn, who aspired to take over the world. It is most likely that he is based on Leif Erikson.
Lord Wülf (1202 A.D.) – A heroic knight from the medieval ages who uses a broadsword. His family was murdered by Count Morbid, who tried to conquer England before he was destroyed by Wülf. He is supposedly based on King Arthur, even hailing from Camelot, England and wields the legendary sword known as Excalibur.
Musashi (1455 A.D.) – A samurai who fights with a pair of swords. Musashi is a brilliant strategist and the finest general in Japan who lost his once-undefeated army to a horrifying dragon. Musashi himself was protected by the dragon's scale he wore and traveled for many years to find it and avenge his loss. Supposedly based on Miyamoto Musashi.
Rancid (2024 A.D.) – A streetwise punk from New Chicago who carries a chainsaw. His forehead is marked with an X-shaped scar from a battle he had with a man who had committed a series of murders and framed him for them. He managed to kill the man before disappearing. With this in mind, it is possible his backstory was somewhat inspired from Charles Manson, who had carved a swastika into his forehead with a knife. The scar may be a reference to the Fist of the North Star character Hyo.
Orion (2885 A.D.) – A space hero of sorts who was supposedly grown in a test tube and loves riding in the vastness of space. He became a fugitive after escaping from police out of fear when he tried to report an alien attack that left no traces of evidence and now journeys to locate the aliens responsible. He fights with an electric sabre.
Matrix (3297 A.D.) – A female soldier with a bionic arm in place of a limb she lost in a battle, giving her the ability to tap into the commands of cybernetic foes as a result. She uses a sword made of plasma as her weapon. In her time period, robots went mysteriously berserk and began to massacre humankind. She managed to defeat the robot controlling them, but vanished shortly after her victory.
Mantazz (4002 A.D.) – A mutant creature, resembling a praying mantis in appearance. She is the queen (as is implied in her background story) of a race of unknown origin. Having overwhelmed an entire area and spreading quickly, these creatures wanted nothing but to cause death and destruction to humankind; after a fearsome war and the disappearance of their queen, both races managed to coexist peacefully. She fights with her razor claws.
Death – The final boss of the game and the one responsible for the entire tournament and taking each of the fighters from their periods. Being the grim reaper, he carries a scythe. The player can only win a round against him by decapitating him with a Death Move or Super Death Move.
Ports were announced for the Super NES and Genesis/Mega Drive, with intended release in Spring 1994, but Nintendo had the Super NES version cancelled early that Spring, while the Genesis/Mega Drive version's release date was pushed back. Two months later the Genesis/Mega Drive version was cancelled entirely, even though developer THQ had already completed it. According to a journalist for GamePro, "Reportedly, the game was considered too explicit. It also had a poor test run among reviewers who saw the preview copy."
Nearly two years later, it was announced that the Genesis version would finally be released in July 1996. It was eventually published by Black Pearl in 1996 but sold poorly, due to being cited by most video game magazine critics as having incredibly poor graphics, sound, and playability. In early 1997 a THQ spokesperson stated that all plans for further ports of Time Killers had been cancelled.
Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewed the Genesis version in 1993, roughly half a year before it was cancelled, and three years before its ultimate release by a different publisher. They gave it a 4.2 out of 10, remarking that "The only remotely redeeming factor of this 'fighting' game is the 'super death moves' where you dismember an opponent. Otherwise, the game play, sound, and technique aren't here." They gave it a second review the following month, in which they lowered the score to 3.5 out of 10 and assessed it as a botched conversion of an already awful arcade game, citing poor graphics, audio, and controls, and generally unappealing gameplay.
Upon the Genesis version's ultimate release in 1996, Coach Kyle of GamePro criticized that the game was completely unchanged from the 1994 version, retaining the same routine gameplay, poor controls, choppy animation, muffled voices, and backgrounds which "look almost 8 bit". A reviewer for Next Generation thoroughly panned it, saying it "lacks any redeeming qualities whatsoever" and "is easily the worst example of a 2D fighting game in history." He echoed Coach Kyle's remark that the graphics could be taken for 8-bit, and said the worst aspect of the game is its control scheme. He scored it one out of five stars.
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