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THRILL KILL "Canceled and unpublished 1998 fighting video game for the Sony PlayStation"

3/22/12 5:01pm
tl;dr

Thrill Kill is a canceled and unpublished 1998 fighting video game for the Sony PlayStation.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 like "Bitch Slap" and "Swallow This".

As it was essentially completed before it was canceled 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 Californian-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 canceled 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 file-sharing, and playable through emulators.

GAME-PLAY

Game-play 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 blood lust to rise. Instead of the usual life bar, characters build up a "kill meter". Once this meter was full, and therefore blood lust 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.

PLOT

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.

CHARACTERS

Belladonna

A housewife and librarian from Savannah, Georgia, who, after discovering that her husband was having an affair with her sister, snapped and transformed into a deadly dominatrix, murdering them both. She is armed with an electric cattle prod. She died after committing suicide by electrocuting herself with her cattle prod while taking a bath, which was reported as being "accidental". She is the most sexually themed character of the game, and, consequentially, was considerably altered in the censored version; her orgasm-like moans were replaced with Violet's giggle, and her third Thrill Kill was removed, in which she appears to perform oral sex on her opponent, only for the camera to reveal that she is merely tickling their foot with a feather. Her ending involves her preparing to murder her husband.

Cleetus

A murderous redneck cannibal from Kentucky who fights with a severed leg of one of his past victims. He starved to death after contracting a tapeworm infestation. Aside from Belladonna, he is the only other character who was noticeably changed in the censored version of the game; his taunt and win pose, in which he bites into the severed leg he carries, was replaced from having blood spraying out of it and the sound effect of ripping flesh to him saying "yummy", with the blood and sound effect removed. In his ending, his slaughterhouse receives a bad review by the health inspector. Cleetus throws the inspector into a machine which tears him to pieces.

Dr. Faustus

A deranged plastic surgeon from Los Angeles, California, who intentionally disfigured many of his patients. He is armed with a scalpel and has a set of metal "jaws" attached to his own face that resembles a bear trap, which he also uses to attack with. He died from an infection caused by the grafting of said contraption onto his face. His ending shows him disfiguring and/or murdering his patients.

The Imp

A violent midget government employee with a Napoleon complex from Albany, New York, who is supported by stilts. He died from complications after amputating both his legs to replace them with the stilts. His ending is that he dreams of being President.

Mammoth

A gigantic, feral, ape-like creature who was previously a human postal worker from Covington, Indiana, nicknamed "Mammoth" due to his large size. After he was fired from his job, he flew into a rage and killed many of his colleagues and customers in a bloody rampage. He died from committing suicide afterwards by shooting himself. His history may be a reference to the term 'Going Postal', which was a term derived from a series of incidents from 1983 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder. In his ending he kills an old lady and her dog and stuff their corpse in the mail box.

Oddball

An FBI criminal profiler from Belfast, Maine, who, after a long time of tracking serial killers, was driven insane and became one himself. His costumes feature him bound in straitjackets, having his arms tied behind his back, or with them amputated altogether, and so he relies on using his head, torso and legs to attack. He died after being gunned down by his protégé. His ending shows him becoming insane as he waits for a criminal's execution.

Tormentor

A sadistic vigilante judge from Phoenix, Arizona, who is armed with a chain. He was executed on the electric chair after being found guilty of acquitting criminals in his court so that he could secretly torture and murder them himself. His ending shows him torturing a criminal he just released.

Violet

The youngest playable character in the game. A teenage traveling circus contortionist from Austria, who developed a hatred for men after killing a man that attacked her in her dressing room after one of her performances. She died from internal injuries after her spinal cord was ruptured. Her ending is during her performing, a man gets on stage and she kills him in front of everyone.

UNLOCKABLE CHARACTERS

The Gimp

Unlockable "training dummy" only available in Practice mode. He is unlocked by successfully following all the instructions to execute moves in training mode for all characters. Like his name suggests, he is a masochistic gimp. He is unplayable.

Cain

One of the earlier unlockable sub-bosses. A pyromaniac covered in flames, who has the ability to conjure fire. Died after burning himself during one of his arsons. His ending shows him starting a fire and walking away while burning and laughing.

Judas

One of the later unlockable sub-bosses. Deformed conjoined twins at the sternum, without any legs. One of them simply "walks" on their hands while the other fights. Probable cause of death could be complications from their deformity. His ending is where he's reborn and his mother died. They resemble Ken and Ryu from the Street Fighter series.

Marukka

The final unlockable character and final boss of the game in one player mode. A demonic female deity from a dimension in Hell who was responsible for the organization of the tournament. She cannot be played in Arcade mode.

 

LEGACY

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."

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