TIME KILLERS / Strata / Arcade
Time Killers was basically the Mars Attacks!
or Dinosaurs Attack!
of the video game world. It's a schlocky fighter cranked out quickly to capitalize on the arcade fighting game market that Street Fighter 2 opened up and on the taste for extreme gore that Mortal Kombat inspired. It does deserve some small amount of credit for being one of the first weapons-based fighters, and for implementing a unique limb-based system for the button inputs that was the first of its kind, but any good faith from those developments is squandered by how clunky and crass the whole thing is.
The premise is that apparently Death gets bored, so for his own amusement he creates a fighting tournament into which he sucks characters from time periods ranging from the Stone Age to 3200 A.D. This is all a little confusing as none of these characters actually died prior to this, so Death basically = God in this game I guess. Metal. Anyway, the grand prize to the tournament winner is a duel to the death with Death, and if they manage to decapitate him they get to live forever. Yep.
You've got four attack buttons, each of which represents one of your limbs. Obviously, the most useful of these is the one holding the weapon. If a limb is sticking out and you get hit with a weapon attack, you stand a chance of getting it lopped off. There's also a special wind-up power attack for which you mash all four buttons at once, and if this connects with an exposed limb or head it will give you a guaranteed lop-off. Dizzies seem to happen at random after any type of attack, and they nearly always prove fatal as you can perform a special fatality while the opponent is stunned. The computer ALWAYS takes advantage of a dizzy in this way, which makes a lot of matches feel random and cheap.
The game seems overwhelmingly hard at first until you realize it's totally unbalanced and there are a couple of basic weapon attacks you can spam with great success all the way through, like Rancid's chainsaw swing. I actually played this several times back when it was in arcades and as far as two-player action goes, it's the type of game that would draw the little kids who would mush all four buttons simultaneously over and over in the hopes of just randomly landing a decapitation, then get all buttmad and whiney at you when you actually tried to play with a modicum of skill and ran them off the machine. A+ parenting going on there, clearly.
While the game actually was kind of shocking in 1993 and managed to make the infamous Joe Lieberman Senate hearings on video game violence, in retrospect it's really corny and looks like the low-detail stuff amateur sociopaths were doing on Newgrounds around the turn of the century. The gameplay was already poor by 1993 standards and nothing else here has held up at all, leaving it only as a campy historical curiosity for how over-the-top trashy it is.