A history of videogame chainsaw killings

The evolution of Buzz-Argh-Squelch action throughout the ages

The chainsaw is a noble tool. Direct, unpretentious, yet capable invoking nigh-incandescant spectacles of bodily deconstruction, it is the choice of the true artist. Its understated yet affecting work has been seen throughout the seven generations of gaming, evolving with each new set of hardware to tell us ever more about ourselves and others (and their innards). So the time has surely come for an retrospective appraisal of the changing face of videogame chansaw killings. And here it is.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre | Atari 2600 | 1982

Probably the earliest recorded example of chainsaw-based killing in the videogame medium. A rough, faltering foray in the exploration of man's eternal struggle against high velocity, spinning metal teeth, it was nonetheless given primal visceral impact by its expressionistic representation and light cubist overtones. Alternately, a crappy old game on crappy old hardware, with an animation frame count in single figures and a soundtrack to kill dogs with.

Splatterhouse 2 | Mega Drive | 1992

Things had moved on greatly in the decade between TCM and Splatterhouse 2. 16-bit had superceded what-the-hell's-a-bit, and we now had graphics and music and everything. Truly, games would never look or sound better; a fact reflected by Rick's chainsaw not actually requiring the imagination of twelve 1970s' acid casualties to believably represent a chainsaw.

ombies Ate My Neighbors | SNES/Mega Drive | 1993

While lacking the photorealistic graphic fidelity of Splatterhouse 2's hardware, ZAMN's chainsaw killers were all the more threatening for their unbelievable numbers, aggressively sharp AI and harrowingly realistic sound effects. It was like there was a chainsaw revving in the very room you were playing in! Plus, they managed to swing their weapons around just like the movie TCM's Leatherface; a great improvement over the 2600 game's disturbingly phallic static protrusion.

Doom | PC | 1993

Such was Doom's technical innovation that it even managed to supercede such 1993 contemporaries as Alfred Chicken and Battletoads & Double Dragon in the realism stakes. Battletoads & Double Dragon, people!!

Taking Wolfenstein 3D's ground work and literally taking it to the next level with sprawling, complex maps comprising multiple verticalities, it genuinely was a genre-defining game. With a first-person viewpoint, videogame chainsaw killing was now as real we thought it ever could be. And we enjoyed it. Long did Doom make us question whether we were secretly unwitting psychopaths in the making.

Final Fantasy VI | SNES | 1994

Proving once and for all that videogame chainsaw killing is an equal opportunites employer rather than the sole remit of the horror genre, the Greatest Final Fantasy Ever (tm) brought mechanical limb chopping to the realm of steampunk fantasy.

Ludicrously suave and capable (and suitably the comment avatar of a ludicrously suave and capable GamesRadar editor), Edgar Figaro had a tool for every combat situation. None though, was more satisfying to use than his rampaging chainsaw melee, particularly when he donned a Jason Voorhees mask for critical hits. As such, he pre-empted the Friday the 13th franchise by a good few hundred years from an entirely different branch of the space/time continuum, and is currently in the process of suing Paramount Pictures for theft of IP.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City | PS2 | 2002

Ushering videogame chainsaw killing into a brand new era called the '80s, Vice City's buzz-splat murdering was notable for providing us with a whole, free-roaming city of genuine 3D bodies to carve up. It also upped the horror factor by combining explosive viscera with 1980s' casual fashion.


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.