Back when John Tobias and Ed Boon were looking for a way to set their Jean-Claude Van Damme action game turned fighting franchise Mortal Kombat apart from Street Fighter II, they hit upon the idea of murder. Originally the idea was to be reserved for the final boss, Shang Tsung, alone, who would behead opponents who failed to beat him.
They quickly realized, though, that players would pay through the nose to perform graphic murders without the pesky side effects of corpse disposal or legal repercussion. Thus was born one of the staples of modern fighters, the fatality. Their inclusion in the original game sparked a controversy resulting in congressional hearings and the creation of a ratings board.
None of those things stopped the popularity of the fatality, though, and it has since moved far beyond Mortal Kombat and even past fighting games into things like God of War and first person shooters. That's not to say that every game did those things well. Some were downright ridiculous.
Even Mortal Kombat itself turns in the occasional half-assed assignment when it comes to its pet executions, and the third game in the series is just chocked full of some of the worst. None is dumber than the work of Smoke, who blows up the entire Earth.
I know this is supposed to be over-the-top on purpose, but the cyborg warrior was from an Earthrealm-based clan of ninjas, and was one of the good guys to boot. Not to mention he essentially committed suicide/genocide/planetcide/who the hell was taking that picture?
Mace: the Dark Age was probably doomed from the start. It was a fighting game on the N64, a system known for crap fighters. While it looked great, it was uninspired, generic, played awkwardly and was in no shape to compete with emerging titans like the Soulcalibur and Tekken franchises.
It did have some great fatalities, though. Each is a gem...save for that of the sorceress Taria de Castillo. With a stated goal of wanting to take over Hell itself and become demon, you'd expect something brutal. Instead, she turns defeated opponents into giant chickens. Skip to the 2:00 to see what I mean. She doesn't even stab them afterwards, just lets them live as a giant chicken. The hidden character of Ned the Janitor can rip out your still-beating heart, but Taria goes with livestock.
Even more embarrassing, watch that video to the end and you'll see that a code will let you play as the chicken, and its fatality is actually better than that of the woman who cast the chicken spell.
In general, Killer Instinct did pretty well with itself. The combat nature was certainly unlike anything else on the market, and if the characters were a little lacking in originality, they made up for it by being awesome-looking. As far as its fatalities went, they were very hit or miss, but there's just no excuse for this.
The sole girl in the game takes out her defeated opponent by unzipping her skintight dress and showing her tits. This causes the male characters to have heart attacks and die even if they are aliens who probably have no shared sense of eroticism with humans, a robot, or a reanimated skeleton with no freakin' dick!
Look, I'm a 31-year-old male who has had cable all his life and the Internet since high school. That means I've seen somewhere between, oh, 2 and 3 percent of all the breasts in the world. If it has taken me down yet, I'm pretty sure boxers and ninjas can cope.
Also, one of the fighters is her brother, and that just makes it extra creepy.
While the editor was on vacation awhile back, I managed to sneak in an article about the five best farts in video game history, mostly because I thought her reaction to it when she returned would be hilarious...which it totally was. Heavily featured in the article was the God of Decay from Primal Rage, Chaos.
Being a character that was basically filth personified, the fact that all his special moves involve bodily functions isn't surprising, but I'm still amazed that his finishers made it into the final game. The most famous one was the golden shower, in which he urinated acid on a fallen opponent. That sounds horrifying, but at least it actually killed your opponent.
Your other option was to projectile-vomit across the arena, teleport into its path and suck it back up. That's it. Even worse, on the SNES port of the game, the golden shower fatality was taken out for being too offensive, leaving this as the only option. In other words, Chaos couldn't kill you...he could just make you wish you were dead.
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You probably haven't heard of Tattoo Assassins. Data East hired no less a writer than Robert Zemeckis's Back to the Future screenplay partner Bob Gale to help craft something that could directly compete with Mortal Kombat. What they ended up with was a tale of fighters endowed with magical tattoos that could come to life and gift their owners with superpowers.
The game only made it to the prototype stage, and tested so poorly in the arcades that it was sent to that it was pretty much destroyed and never mentioned again. Less than three original cabinets still exist, but as you can see, some fine folks managed to emulate it and allow for downloading from the internet.
Tattoo Assassins took their fatalities very seriously with, no shit, 2,196 possible finishing moves, including things that Mortal Kombat would either be rumored to have -- Nudalities that stripped opponents -- or actually implement -- Animalities that used animal transformation to kill the defeated.
They also had Fartalities, which burned opposing players with flaming ass gas, but even that wasn't the dumbest thing going on. Skip to the :40 mark to see a parody of Nancy Kerrigan expel multiple silver platters heaped high with poo at her opponent, only for the poo plates to ricochet all across the arena and end up bouncing both players into the air endlessly. Supposedly, the plates have Thanksgiving turkeys on them, but c'mon. What are the odds they didn't go with a feces feast after already shooting flames from your dirt button?