Games you played as a kid that would be Mature rated today

Ah, the good old pre-ratings days of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, when gaming was an eclectic free-for-all of content and there was no such thing as a kids’ game, an adult game, a family game or a casual game. There were just games, unrestricted and unquestioned.

Families shared post-Christmas dinner Bomberman and Mario Kart sessions. Kids dragon punched the crap out of their grandparents. Every person of every age from every walk of life was obsessed with Doom. And best of all, excessive gore reigned supreme and no-one seemed to care. All the controversial games that trouble today’s tabloids? There was an equivalent to every one of them back then, and they could be played by everyone. Think the old days were a more innocent time? Take a look through these and remind yourself of the true brutality of your childhood.

Splatterhouse 2

Mega Drive/Genesis | 1992 | Namco
Modern equivalent: Clive Barker’s Jericho

Much as animation gets away with violent excess more easily than live action film on account of the visuals not being ‘real’, games managed to slip past all kinds of  eyeball-screaming filth back when the graphics were crap. Hence the very existence of the Splatterhouse arcade franchise, and the fact that the second game in the series made it completely uncut onto the Mega Drive/Genesis.

When a hulking great slab of death in a hockey mask is your hero, you know things are going to get extreme. Horrible, slavering, deformed monsters, including bobble-headed skinless babies dangling from nooses. A progressively brutal array of melee weaponry culminating in a chainsaw. A standard punch that can burst enemies in two. Detonated corpses sliding down walls. Splatterhouse 2 isn’t so much a game as it is an abattoir simulator for madmen.

Smash TV

SNES/Mega Drive/Genesis | 1990 | Williams
Modern equivalent: Gears of War

Has any action game ever had a bigger or bloodier bodycount? Every single screen stage in Smash TV saw hundreds upon hundreds of hapless grunts torn asunder like bloody naan bread. They were ugly, they were stupid, they were disposable, and they existed only to reduce your heaving stockpile of bullets, rockets and grenades. And if you were playing in co-op, that was a very, very big stockpile.

Oh, and all those screens of murder? They were part of a gameshow, meaning that all your gleeful killing was for naught but materialistic ends.


Various home computers | 1987 | Palace Software
Modern equivalent: Dragon Age

One of the earliest one-on-one beat ‘em ups playable on home machines, Palace’s Barbarian is a game steeped in other, more dubious accolades. Most relevant to this feature, it featured what we strongly believe to be only the second ever decapitation in video games (number one is on the third page of this feature), whereby one burly 8-bit warrior could launch his burly 8-bit opponent’s burly 8-bit cranium high into the sky, only for his leaking corpse to be unceremoniously removed by a goblin lackey.

On top of that, it was high in the boob factor, featuring gratuitous barbarian ladies in similarly gratuitous combat bikinis (they aid weapon dexterity in battle, we assume), and was notorious for box art featuring the ‘talents’ of page 3 model Maria Whittaker. The box also starred the guy who would eventually become Wolf on the UK version of Gladiators, but he didn’t sell quite so many copies.


  • Thatguyfromlastnight - February 17, 2010 8:34 a.m.

    DOOM definitely. i first played that when I was like 4. I've hated those types of games ever since.
  • superfj0220 - January 9, 2010 2:53 a.m.

    They should make a remake of Streets of Rage. It was badass playing it as a child.
  • Jbo87 - December 17, 2009 1:19 p.m.

    mahajinx you read my mind. Moonstone was so gory but pure genius, being splattered by the big blue troll chaps is one of my favourites.
  • AuthorityFigure - December 17, 2009 12:54 p.m.

    The 'modern equivalent' is interesting. Will THESE games end up on a similar list a decade from now?
  • mahajinx - December 17, 2009 10:14 a.m.

    Awww, no Moonstone for Amiga? :( Oh c'mon guys, that was one extremely graphic cookie, one of the bloodiest and goriest games of its time. I figured maybe by the time it came out they alerady started rating the games, so that's why it's not on this list, but then I looked up some covers for it, and yeah, it does say '12', but it also says (and I quote) '...this product is VOLUNTARILY rated 12'. So I guess it wasn't REALLY rated after all :) (and anyway - only 12?! In this day and age, it would be rated, like, a 100). Anyway, IMHO it was, as I said, one of the goriest-coolest-most fun and addictive-AND-frustratingly hard games back in the day. The most frustrating thing for me, though, was having my Amiga lock up after beating the final boss >:( (after hours and hours of of sweating and cursing trying to get there). I never got around to REALLY finishing it afterwards... Also, I think I remember Myth for Amiga being pretty gory and full of decapitations as well :)
  • FlyinHawaiian13 - December 16, 2009 1:10 a.m.

    i like the liberal use of 'em up
  • linkganon - December 15, 2009 10:42 p.m.

    shoot, i forgot to finish, streets of rage was good back then, and is still good now. it's an instant classic, and it's safe to say it was one of the best games on a sega system ever.
  • linkganon - December 15, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    lol, i played streets of rage 2 a lot, in fact i used to go to a neighbors / neighbours house to play it. i even have a copy of it on my wii right now. i recommend buying a points card and obtaining a copy of an arcade beat em up, it really passes the time when you are bored even though they are old. deathandblackmetal has a point, they should ressurect the streets of rage franchise for a forth installment, at least it made sense. still, i don't see why it would have ever been so bad anyway. there's only three and four instances of women, there is no blood and gore, no drug references, it's just an average arcade game that is at the same time extraordinary and good.
  • BloodBarrage - December 15, 2009 6:43 p.m.

    Dude, most of these came out before I was born and I started playing games at age 5 so i nvr really played these. Good Article!
  • DeathandBlackMetal4 - December 15, 2009 6:13 p.m.

    Streets of rage! I love that series, why won't sega make a 4th one already, Sonic is dead, give up sega, forget the blue bastard and move on.
  • raxafrax - December 15, 2009 6:54 a.m.

    Remember that NES game called N.A.R.C. ? You had tons of rockets and blew up all the drug dealers and junkies? You also collected big bags of coke and money! lol
  • SimpleJack - December 15, 2009 4:47 a.m.

    Streets of Rage is addictive today as it was then. I bought it for my Wii as soon as I saw it on the marketplace. Someone play me in NFS Shift. SimpleJack277
  • Teh_Ty - December 15, 2009 3:40 a.m.

    Bah! Where's team buddies?
  • garnsr - December 14, 2009 9:56 p.m.

    The Immortal was fantastically hard, but good fun getting yourself killed, if you weren't trying to make it through the game.
  • CARLINNIT - December 14, 2009 9:49 p.m.

    Streets of Rage was SO good!
  • Metroidhunter32 - December 14, 2009 9:39 p.m.

    Come on, DOOM belonged on this. It practiaclly inspired the rating system. But all that one of the greatest FPSs of all time gets is a throwback in the opening paragraph. And this article was perfect for it too.
  • Cyberninja - December 14, 2009 9:35 p.m.

    man i am young
  • zer0hvk - December 14, 2009 7:59 p.m.

    The Immortal has epic sleep
  • iluvmyDS - December 14, 2009 7:27 p.m.

    No Robocop vs Terminator?
  • 435 - December 14, 2009 6:58 p.m.

    My parents were more than happy to have me playing Streets of Rage. They liked the music. Also, the moment I read the title, I thought of The Immortal. That game gave me nightmares. Regularly.

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