Time Killers is a 2D weapons-based fighting game developed by Incredible Technologies and published by Strata for arcades on November 1992.
One of the earliest examples of a weapon-based fighting game after the launch of Street Fighter II, Time Killers takes eight fictional warriors from different time periods (both past and future) and pits them in a battle royale to gain immortality.
Released around the same time as the original Mortal Kombat, the game is known for its optional excessive violence as fighters could have their arms sliced off (and still fight) and can become decapitated through special "death moves", prematurely ending the round. It's also known for having the attack buttons corresponding to specific limbs (a mechanic later used in the Tekken series).
It is one of the few action-oriented arcade games from Incredible Technologies (who went on to make sports-oriented arcade games, primarily the Golden Tee Golf series). After the game's release, they would soon develop the game's spiritual sequel: BloodStorm.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis were intended to receive ports of the game by THQ subsidiary Black Pearl at late 1993, but were shelved. The Sega Genesis version would later receive a release in July 1996 as part of THQ's "Arcade Classics" series.
Time Killers plays like a traditional fighting game with five attack buttons. Unlike other games of the era, each button represents a limb of the character's body at the perspective towards the play screen: Head, Front Arm, Back Arm, Front Leg, and Back Leg. Pressing both Arm buttons or both Kick buttons simultaneously give stronger Arm and Kick attacks. Blocking can be done by either holding back on the joystick or by holding down both Back buttons simultaneously.
If enough damage is dealt to a character's arm, that arm would be cut cleanly from the character's body and most attacks using that arm's corresponding button would be futile. In rare occasions, both arms can be cut off in the same round. If the player wins the round with no arms, they receive an "ARMLESS WIN".
Players can prematurely end the round if they decapitate their opponent character's head using a special "Death Move", which can be done by pressing all five attack buttons simultaneously. If the enemy character is dizzied after a barrage of successful attacks, the player can use the "Death Move" at close range for a special variant of the attack (with a flourish that also dismembers the opponent's character).
The game includes eight playable characters from various time periods, each with their own backstory (which were only included in the game's handbook and the manual of the Genesis version). After defeating all eight characters, the player confronts the unplayable final boss: Death himself.
- Thugg - A primitive caveman from the stone age (circa 20,000 B.C.) who wields a stone axe in battle. In his backstory, Thugg has previously led a fierce war against an alien race known as the Troglodytes, who had been enslaving humanity for centuries.
- Leif - An adventurous viking during the Nordic conquest (circa 829 A.D.) who wields a large battle axe in battle. In his backstory, Leif fought continuously against the mysterious plague of evil known as the Black Army.
- Lord Wülf - A courageous knight from medieval England (circa 1202 A.D.) who wields a broadsword in battle. In his backstory, Wülf seeked vengeance against the corrupt Count Morbid, ruler of the town of Spinstershire.
- Musashi - An agile samurai from feudal Japan (circa 1455 A.D.) who wields twin katanas in battle. In his backstory, Musashi is a brilliant strategist who had faced his greatest threat: the powerful Yofune'-Nushi dragon.
- Rancid - A defiant punk from post-modern Neo Chicago (circa 2024 A.D.) who wields a large chainsaw in battle. In his backstory, Rancid was a streetwise loner who was framed for a series of crimes known as the "X Murders", surviving a fatal battle with the true killer.
- Orion - A legendary outlaw from the Last Frontier (circa 2885 A.D.) who wields an electric saber in battle. In his backstory, Orion was an aspiring space traveler who was on the run from authorities after finding his space station home was attacked by mysterious shadow creatures (which he confronted).
- Matrix - A cybernetic soldier from a terraformed Mars colony (circa 3297 A.D.) who wields both a photon blade and her bionic arm in battle. In her backstory, Matrix grew up in (and later ended) the Cyber Wars after a mysterious force reprogrammed all A.I. to go berserk and destroy humanity.
- Mantazz - A savage creature (resembling a mantis) from an alien-invaded Earth (circa 4002 A.D.) who wields her serrated forearms in battle. In her backstory, Mantazz is the queen of the Mantazz race who was leading an overwhelming destruction of humanity. Her disappearance is a mystery; as without her, the invasion ended quickly and the two species were able to live peacefully.