Active the Flux Capacitor and enter the wormhole! It’s time for another Time Warp Review! Fighting games were all the rave in the decade of grunge, the Gulf War and the dissolution of Russia. The movement was started by Capcom’s Street Fighter II, took a morbid turn with Midway’s Mortal Kombat and entered the third dimension with Sega’s Virtua Fighter. There were dozens of knock-offs, some good and some bad. But none were worse than the period hopping game Time Killers.
Developed by Incredible Technologies and published by Strata, Time Killers was a weapon-based fighting game that hit the arcades in 1993 during the height of Capcom’s Street Fighter II popularity. The game featured eight characters from different periods in history who were brought together to face off with each other and eventually Death for immortality. Time Killers borrowed elements from current fighting games at that time. The move set for characters mimicked Street Fighter and the ability to kill your opponent is reminiscent of Mortal Kombat. Rather than the standard layout of punches and kicks of various strengths, a specific button is used to attack with the corresponding body part: left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, and the head. (Did anyone else have a Voltron flashback?) A stronger attack can be executed by pressing both limb buttons at the same time. This is a feature was likely borrowed from SNK’s Fatal Fury series. As mentioned before, you can kill your opponent via Mortal Kombat style. Instant Kills or “Death Move”, if executed and hit successfully, will lop off the opponent’s head and immediately end the round. It is simply done by pressing all five buttons at once. Unlike MK’s “Fatalities”, which can be done only after the opponent has been defeated in 2 rounds, they can be done any time, though they can be blocked. There is also a “Super Death Move”, which can only be done while next to stunned opponents by holding the joystick in the direction that moves the character toward the opponent and pressing all five buttons. This attack removes both arms and the head. When the round ends, any lost body parts (including the head) are “magically” restored.
The character list consisted of fighters from different time periods, some modeled after well-known actual figures and legends. Among them included: Rancid, who was from 2024 and had an “X” on his forehead, similar to Charles Manson who bore a swastika in the same location; Leif, a Viking who is an obvious nod to Leif Erikson; Lord Wulf, a knight from the medieval era who hails from Camelot and wields the legendary sword Excaliber; and Musashi, a ronin clearly modeled after the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Other characters included the alien Mantaaz, future bounty hunter Matrix, the space hero Orion, and Thugg the caveman. Death is the final boss and the one who gathered these warriors together.
Time Killers was meet with mediocre success due in part to its sometimes clumsy gameplay. Plus it paled in comparison graphically to current fighting games at the time and offered little challenge, especially since you can use a Death Kill to immediately end the match before it starts. The music of time Killers lacked enjoyment and was easily forgettable. When Time Killers was being made for home consoles, Nintendo cancelled the project citing that the game was too intense. Sega followed suit for the same reason, pulling the plug even though the game was finished and ready for distribution. Still, the home port was even more horrendous. Sound quality and graphics were knocked down to subpar levels on a game that was already subpar to begin with. Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewed the Genesis release before it was cancelled and gave it a 4.5 out of 10, staying that “the only redeeming quality in this ‘fighting’ game are the super kill moves where you dismember an opponent. Other than that, the sound, gameplay and entertainment weren’t there.” Time Killers was reviewed s month later after finding another distributor and was given a lower rating of 3.5 out of 10, citing poor graphics, gameplay and sound on an already awful arcade game. Long story short, this game stunk. For most of us, Time Killers faded into the pages of arcade history never to be seen again. But we will always have the memory of the only other redeeming quality of Time Killers. Like it name suggests, it killed time while we waited for our turn following the twenty other quarters laid across the screen of Street Fighter II.
Time Killers arcade gameplay.
Time Killers Sega Genesis/Mega Drive gameplay. (If you can stomach it)
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