Tattoo Assassins is a cancelled 2D fighting game developed by Data East Pinball, with a planned release by Data East for arcades in 1994.
The sole video game developed by the company's pinball table manufacturing division, Tattoo Assassins is a fighting game that was heavily influenced by the Mortal Kombat series (including digitized actors for character sprites, comical amounts of violence, and use of secret finishing moves).
Although it was cancelled prior to release, the game is known for an unofficial digital release of the game's prototype (for use with the MAME emulator), the game's comical amount of secret finishing moves (including "nudalities" and references to earlier Data East games), the use of a dedicated special move button (the "Tattoo" button, which can be assigned prior to starting each match), and the story of the game's troubled development.
The game's story, written by screenwriter Bob Gale (the co-creator of the Back to the Future film trilogy), involves a magical substance called the "Ink of Ghize", which can bring objects (when applied as tattoos) of special hosts to life. When Koldan of the Color Guard begins stealing the secret of the Ink in order to create an army of warriors and enslave mankind, the spiritual leader Mullah Abba seeks nine worthy hosts that can defeat him.
Only a few dedicated arcade machines have survived since the game's cancellation, since most of the two-dozen machines were destroyed. One of them is publically playable.