Thrill Kill was a violent, 3D, arena-based fighting game, scheduled for release on the Sony PlayStation in October 1998. The game is notable for its relatively high level of controversial content, and certainly not for its playability. Thrill Kill was cancelled in 1998, but would have been the first game ever to receive an AO rating, and thus a ban from stores, from the ESRB. Thrill Kill plays loosely similar to Power Stone 2. Four fighters enter a 3D arena, and are fighting for their chance to escape from Hell.
The story revolves around eight characters, which are incarnations of mental illnesses and vices on Earth. It takes place in Hell, the characters all being sinners who have died and descended into The Abyss. Marukka, the Goddess of Secrets, in her own boredom, has pitted the damned characters against each other for entertainment. The characters are fighting to stay alive, and for the chance to be reborn onto Earth.
Thrill Kill is a 3D fighter that was slated to become the first PlayStation fighting game that supported four players at once. After choosing characters, the players are put in a small room and immediately fight each other to the death. Thrill Kill is different from most fighting games in that the victor is determined by who deals the most damage, rather than who lives the longest. Each player has a "kill meter" at the top of the screen, which fills up as that player inflicts damage upon the other fighters. When a player's kill meter is full, they can instantly kill an opponent in a particularly violent fashion. If that opponent is the last opponent standing, the kill performed is a thrill kill, which is especially gory and similar to Fatalities in Mortal Kombat. Kills can be performed on any opponent, regardless of their kill meter, adding a huge element of strategy to the game. Once a player is killed, all kill meters are reset to zero. The kill meter prevents players from taking a defensive-based stance in the game. Players are able to hold down opponents using "gang-up" moves, while another player beats down the helpless player. These two elements made the game ludicrously unbalanced, but the purpose of the game was to create the most controversial fighter possible, not to create a balanced fighter or good video game.
Types of Kills
There are four different kinds of kills a player can perform when their kill meter is full. Which one is performed depends on the button pressed while the player's kill meter is full. The player can hit an opponent so they stick to the wall, they can hit an opponent causing them to gorily explode, they can decapitate an opponent, or they can hit an opponent up to the ceiling and have their blood rain down upon them. The computer usually decapitates other players when its kill meter is full.
A thrill kill is performed when there are only two fighters left in the arena. It is similar to a fatality and kills the opponent in an over-the-top, excessively gory fashion. Thrill kills were one of the most controversial elements of the game.
Examples of thrill kills:
- Mammoth tears an opponent's limbs off and beats them to death with them.
- Belladonna shoves a cattle prod down an opponent's throat, electrocuting them, inexplicably causing them to explode.
- Cleetus decapitates an opponent, drinking the blood from their severed head, then eats their arm.
- Tormentor flips over an opponent while simultaneously decapitating them with a chain.
- The Imp magically shrinks an opponent then crushes them underfoot.
Belladonna is the latex-clad, dominatrix maid of the game. She is armed with a cattle prod and is the most sexually themed character in the game. Belladonna was a proper librarian on Earth, but, changed into a deadly dominatrix when she found her husband was cheating on her with her sister. She committed suicide by electrocuting herself with a cattle prod in a bathtub, which was reported as an "accident." Belladonna lived in Savannah, Georgia.
Cleetus T. Radley
Cleetus is a backwoods cannibal who enjoys eating his victims after killing them. He fights with the leg of one of his victims, which he carries around for good luck. Cleetus was a trapper in Radley Hallow, Kentucky, who had a prior conviction for animal cruelty before his death. He died of a tape worm infection which slowly starved him to death.
Dr. Gabriel Faustus
Dr. Faustus was a 37 year old plastic surgeon and serial killer in Los Angeles, California. A hobby of his also happened to be dissection of small animals. He was often overzealous while operating, which caused him to lose restraint and kill his patients. Twenty seven cases of malpractice were filed against him, but he received no convictions. Faustus replaced his mandible with a bear trap-like jaw, and is armed with his scalpel in Hell. Faustus died due to infection as a result of the grafting the bear trap to his face.
Billy "The Imp" Tattoo
Thirty-nine year old Billy B. Tattoo was a midget and government employee from Albany, New York with a Napoleon complex. He grafted makeshift stilts to his legs so he could physically measure up to people and often thinks about inflicting pain on those who look down on him. The Imp died as a result of complications from amputating his legs to use the experimental stilts.
Franklin "Mammoth" Peppermint
Peppermint was a postal worker from Covington, Indiana. He was a huge man, which earned him the name Mammoth at the office, and after getting fired from his job, went on a bloody rampage. He slaughtered his co-workers and customers alike, before committing suicide with a gun. In Hell, Peppermint transformed into a hulking ape-like creature as a result of his rage and fights with his bare fists.
Raymond "Oddball" Raystack
Raymond Raystack was a 31-year-old FBI serial killer profiler in Belfast, Maine. After tracking killers for years, he lost his mind and began to "appreciate their artistic work", and went on a series of killings that earned him the name the "Oddball Killer." He is extremely intelligent and compassionless, but is bound by a straight jacket, even in Hell. Oddball's attacks include bashing opponents with his body and kicking.
William "Tormentor" Whitefield
Judge William J. Whitefield was a 51 year old district judge from Phoenix, Arizona. He believes that he was an Angel of Mercy sent to cleanse the souls of the immoral, and took it upon himself to be the executioner. He acquitted felons in his court so he could kidnap and torture them himself in his personal Torture Chamber before killing them. Whitefield was convicted for two premeditated murders and was suspected of 52 others. He received the death penalty and was put to death via the electric chair. In Hell, Tormentor wears a dark mask and attacks with his fists.
Arguably the only innocent character, Violet was a 19 year old contortionist with a travelling circus. She was raped in a dressing room at one of her performances and developed a hatred for men. Violet murdered the man that attacked her and was convicted of manslaughter. She is incredibly flexible and fights by twisting herself around her opponents in Hell. On Earth, Violet's hometown was Thomia, Austria, and she is inexplicably named after a character from
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Cain is an unlockable sub-boss who is a pyromaniac. He has the ability to manipulate fire.
Judas is an unlockable sub-boss. They are a pair of deformed, conjoined twins.
Marukka is the Goddess of Secrets, the final boss in the game, as well as an unlockable character. She is an ancient demon from the modern Hell Thrill Kill is in. Marukka is the demon who organized the tournament for reincarnation. After unlocking her, she cannot be played in Arcade mode.
Thrill Kill was a very much hyped and very controversial game, for obvious reasons. Paradox Development claims they didn't hold anything back during the design and development, and did not censor themselves in any way. In reality, they designed Thrill Kill to be controversial over playable in order to get their own name popularly known among the gaming public, with their subsequent games having actual effort put into making them fun. As such, the game is full of violent images, sexual themes, and disturbing sound effects. Belladonna dons an S&M-style leather fetishist outfit and a couple characters have amputated limbs or other deformities. The violence in the game far surpasses that of Mortal Kombat, the only comparable game at the time of planned release, and it was so extreme that the game was the first game to have a planned AO rating. The sounds in the game were also particularly graphic, especially for effects such as Cleetus drinking blood from a severed head or biting into a limb. Some sounds, such as Belladonna's laugh were sexually charged as well.
Unfortunately, when Virgin Interactive was bought out by Electronic Arts, they cancelled the game weeks before it was supposed to ship, stating in a press release that they would not "publish such a senselessly violent game." EA felt the controversy surrounding Thrill Kill would harm their image as a publisher, and would not even sell the game to another publisher so the project was simply dropped very near to completion.
Fortunately, the game is available via beta versions released to the internet by Paradox Development employees. Various versions of the game exist, including a popular "uncensored version" with more racy outfits and gruesome sound effects. The beta is available via many popular file sharing services.
Thrill Kill is regarded as one of the most violent and controversial games of all time, although it's an image it may not necessarily deserve. By modern standards, it is not a particularly violent or gruesome game and would not likely qualify for an AO rating. After Thrill Kill's cancellation, a number of games were released using the 3D fighting engine designed for the game (but upgraded to actually be playable) including Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, X-Men: Mutant Academy, X-Men Mutant Academy 2, and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots Arena.