The Top 7... Bloodiest fighting games

Welcome to our third annual Halloweek! For five fearsome days we’ll be celebrating the goriest, creepiest and all around ickiest aspects of video games, beginning today with a look at seven fighting games that perhaps laid it on a bit too thick.

Popularized by Mortal Kombat in 1992, fatalities and in-game blood became nearly ubiquitous over the next couple of years. Not to be outdone, each developer felt it could “out gore” the other guys, leading to a comically gratuitous escalation of violence.

7 – Mortal Kombat

The first MK and its sequels aren’t all that bloody. You get a few blots of red here and there for uppercuts and strong attacks, and then “Finish Him” with a humiliating move that’s now universally called a “fatality.” Compared to everything else on this list, MK’s a bit tame. The reason we have to include it is because it’s the only one that actually shocked us – such graphic violence wasn’t common in 1992, and seeing your fighter’s heart torn out was a moment you’d never forget.

Above: Classics that are restrained by today’s standards, but ultimately more effective because of their comparatively down to earth execution

Other games in this list pile on the guts in an effort to appear edgier and “cooler” than the first MK – as if blood were the only thing ‘90s-era arcade rats wanted in a solid fighting game. Some of the games on this list miss the point and go so far outside the realm of believability that the violence becomes comedy, a fate even Mortal Kombat would succumb to in future editions. But the first one, and MKII as well, struck just the right balance of blood, shock and excess.

Most effed up fatality: Easily Sub-Zero’s iconic head rip. Kano’s heart tear was pretty rough too, but seeing that dangling spine come out of your fighter’s head was irrefutable evidence that you died a most horrible death.

6 – Weaponlord

As we mentioned, countless ‘90s fighters used bloody finishing moves as a selling point. You’d beat your opponent senseless, then enter in a pre-set button combination to trigger the cinematic fatality. Once you knew how to pull them off, fatalities became an easy, almost expected end to any battle. Weaponlord, on the other hand, forced you to execute elaborate “death combos” that you had to string together and eventually weave into a gory final attack.

Above: They’re tough to execute, but the payoff is buckets of blood

It was a rather impressive game, but demanding – people were accustomed to button mashing in Street Fighter II, and even Mortal Kombat made fatalities relatively simple to perform. Weaponlord, in comparison, required loads of practice to see its vaunted death combos. But in a sea of me-too bloodbaths, the “work for it” nature of the gore made it special and therefore slightly more impactful. Plus the thunderous “BOOOM!” of an exploding head turned a few heads.

Most effed up fatality: The above video contains several death combos of varying intensity, but the weirdest is right up front – juggling a severed head with a sword. It goes on for so long it crosses beyond gruesome and becomes plain ol’ silly. Keep watching for a better example of what Weaponlord has to offer.

5 – Primal Rage

Technically the coolest idea in the world, Primal Rage was a one-on-one fighter starring bloodthirsty dinosaurs instead of shirtless digitized men. While its claymation dinos may seem like a gimmick, they existed just to get you in the door – once you dropped a pair of quarters on this, you found a pretty damn decent scrapper with a clever take on the well-tread Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat scene.

Above: Why the dinosaurs went extinct… in 1994

It’s only slightly nastier than Weaponlord because the blood sprays and puddles up much more freely – those building-sized monsters have a lot of goo to bleed, right? And then there’s the heart/vein life meter that pops open when you lose:

Above: BLORF! Sorry Vertigo, you lose!

Most effed up fatality: None of them are particularly gross, but everything big-ape Chaos does pushes the bounds of decency. The embedded YouTube vid up there captures the dumbest at 1:35 – he barfs a huge green glob of puke, then walks across the screen and sucks it up before it hits the ground. How that kills the other player is a mystery.


Halloweek Top 7


  • sternparez - October 30, 2010 4:11 p.m.

    oh god that was before I watched the last video, Lazarus! "Good, now I can use yer boady as a raft"
  • sternparez - October 30, 2010 4:03 p.m.

    "Och aye" nice to see Angus represent my country on the Atari Jaguar
  • SuperStingray - October 30, 2010 12:54 a.m.

    Where's MadWorld?
  • Kezmer - October 29, 2010 3:13 a.m.

    I am going for that piece of dog shit Way of the Warrior 3D0 game... Shaky Jake was so bad ass !! !! !!
  • Genericpenisjoketista - October 26, 2010 8 p.m.

    Holy shit... I thought that no game could make me queasy, but that Mortal Kombat fatality actually did! Which is good!! Also, the number one game on this list is hilarious. It's so bad that it's kind of creepy, actually. I can't wait to hear what they have to say about it on Talkradar...
  • philipshaw - October 26, 2010 7:01 p.m.

    Here was me thinking Mortal Kombat would be number 1, you clearly did your research Mr. Elston
  • EricBratcher - October 26, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    @ventanger, Thrillkill wasn't a vehicle for Wu-Tang to get into games, but the Wu-tang fighting game that came out later used the same game engine, so that's probably what led to the rumor you heard. The one I'm now kicking myself for not remembering sooner is Samurai Shodown Sen, which can be seen here: I think it could have ranked.
  • FoxdenRacing - October 26, 2010 2:07 p.m.

    @GR Brett: Looks like yesterday falling apart on me shone through there; reading it again today, I didn't intend to be anywhere near that snarky, and for that you've got my apologies. It was weirder, yeah, but not nearly as censor-bendingly over the top like the bits mentioned for the other games. The cavemen didn't do much except look like Circus Atari outcasts in 16-bit; the arcade is where they were the most gory. Huh...I remember reading about it when I was younger, but that was years and years ago. A quick trip to wiki talks about several changes to the arcade cabinet and a recall of console versions, but to be perfectly honest 1996 was a long time ago now.
  • pimlicosound - October 26, 2010 12:24 p.m.

    I remember playing Time Slaughter. I had a feeling it would make the top spot on this list. That game is absolutely bonkers.
  • papergoon - October 26, 2010 11:08 a.m.

    I don't know ANY of these games. Guess it sucks to be a young gamer
  • ThePigHostage - October 26, 2010 9:24 a.m.

  • BurntToShreds - October 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.

    If Matt Groening ever decided to make a game based on Bonestorm, I would buy five copies. For those who don't know what Bonestorm is, look here:
  • NightCrawler_358 - October 26, 2010 3:02 a.m.

    I thought bonestorm was just a Simpson's gag. also Mojumbo's fatality made me roar out a huge lol.
  • elpurplemonkey - October 26, 2010 2:58 a.m.

    Those last two games look like one of those Adult Swim joke games. And hooray a theme week! I missed these.
  • Embolado - October 26, 2010 2:07 a.m.

    Why does GR video player always start with the audio bar all the way down? Please fix
  • taterboob - October 26, 2010 1:32 a.m.

    Never heard of Kasumi Ninja, that is.
  • taterboob - October 26, 2010 1:31 a.m.

    It's funny, I had never even heard until I watched AVGN's videos about the Jaguar yesterday and then, boom, it pops up on this week's top 7.
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - October 26, 2010 1:15 a.m.

    ohhhh that's rayden, i thought he was some curly guy or something
  • JADENkOTOR - October 26, 2010 1:14 a.m.

    @ skiallday: wow... that shit is for real
  • Robusken - October 26, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    Dammit even now Thrill Kill freaks the hell out of me. A few years ago I stumbled across a video of the story mode and it horrified me for some reason. Great top 7 Brett! Im eager to see what else is gonna show up for Halloweek.

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