Bloodstorm: Mortal Kombat’s Red-Headed Stepchild

One of the things I promised I would do if I ever managed to make any money off my writing career was to have a corner of my home dedicated to my love for 80’s videogame arcades. Well, it happened, and I did. For two years now, I’ve been a part of the iiRcade family. I’m broke again now so I need to write new stuff. Until then…

Never heard of iiRcade?

I’m not surprised. The company itself is a two-year-old startup but, if you pay attention to the home arcade biz, they’re becoming more and more relevant with each passing week. Today, they released Ninja Baseball Batman, an obscure 1993 arcade game from Irem. Only 50 arcade cabinets were shipped to the United States when it released, and few had heard of it until the Angry Video Game Nerd released this video:

iiRcade is becoming the master of previously unknown arcade greatness. Sure, you can have your cheaply built Wal-Mart special Arcade 1up classics like Pac Man and Galaga, but you can play those anywhere on any available console. You can even play them on your phone! I had the TMNT from 1up and, even though I’m a HUGE Ninja Turtles fan, I gave it away. A strong wind would’ve blown that damn thing over. iiRcade is built like a tank!

Here’s a link to their stuff for the curious

During the early nineties Street Fighter II/Mortal Kombat reigned supreme, but a few odd titles trickled out in an attempt to challenge that dominance. Developed by Incredible Technologies and distributed by Stata, Time Killers was the closest thing to a Highlander videogame we were ever going to get. Your buttons coincided with limbs of the body rather than weak/strong punches/kicks. Also, if you could find an opening, you could decapitate your opponent with one hit, ending the match in mere seconds. People were having difficulty understanding the mechanics when it first came out because they were used to the SF2/MK gameplay. I was never a fan of waiting so I would sometimes play the lonely Time Killers cabinet in my mall arcade. I started to get quite good!

It didn’t matter how many new fighting games arrived on the scene because Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter would always be king. They even had movie franchises in the works, bringing arcade excitement to an all-time high. Perhaps Time Killers did well in other markets, but it rarely made money in my hometown of Greenville, Texas. Actually, no one makes money there. Anywhere. You’re either born into it, or you steal it. Sometimes both. Still, Incredible Technologies and Stata had high hopes. I can relate to this feeling as an indie author. Just keep writing, y’all. Just keep writing.

Then came Bloodstorm. According to Wikipedia:

BloodStorm is a 1994 arcade fighting game published by Strata and developed by Incredible Technologies. It is considered a quasi-sequel to Time Killers.

BloodStorm was dubbed as a possible “Mortal Kombat-killer” in an attempt to surpass rival Midway Games‘s success with Mortal Kombat, though it did not prevail. It was the last game Strata produced before the company went out of business. Home ports for the Saturn and PlayStation were announced in early 1995,[1] but were later cancelled.

Bloodstorm is the “red-headed stepchild” of the fighting world. Imagine a clone of the original Mortal Kombat replaced with meh cartoon graphics, over the top gore, and a feeling as though the programmers never got to finish their workday because of reoccurring fire alarms and Sherry’s birthday party.

To put it bluntly, this game is a total rip off of the first two MK games! The only reason people played it was for the same reasons I played Time Killers. There was no waiting! Granted, it had limited success because of the blood and gore. That was the thing in 92/93. The government was trying to ban violent videogames and the industry was steadily giving them a bloody middle finger in response. Rebels!!! Woo Hoo!!!

Entertainment Weekly gave the game a D and wrote that “If The Simpsons ever did a parody of Mortal Kombat, the result might be BloodStorm, a brutal fighting game in which players cut each other’s arms off, launch cruise missiles at one another, and get impaled. But BloodStorm isn’t funny, except in a snickering, Beavis and Butt-Head sort of way — like when the screen flashes ‘Cat Fight!’ before two female combatants step into the ring.”

But is it all that bad? Depends on if you’re a fan of Beavis and Butthead humor!

Again, being a collector of all things obscure and nostalgic, I’ve recently spent a little time with Bloodstorm. Once you get past the corny concept and the legendary feud between Midway and Daniel Pesina (martial arts expert from some Hollywood films and mocap model for a few of the Mortal Kombat characters – He left team MK and joined Bloodstorm. Poor guy. Just Google it) it’s a fairly solid fighter.

The buttons resemble Time Killers assigning one to each limb. Then, instead of a ‘head’ button, it’s replaced with block like Mortal Kombat. Even the backgrounds resemble the scenes from Mortal Kombat II. Also, like Time Killers, you can dismember your opponent with one lucky strike. This confused many of the fighting game players who were in the habit of working down their enemy’s life bar. They preached a big game, and then fell flat on their faces. Embarrassing? The company went under and never resurfaced.

But is it a good game in my living room in 2023? You bet your ass it is! iiRcade has yet to obtain licenses for Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter franchises since Midway and Capcom are two of the biggest names in the business. Arcade 1up hovered around their glory hole with quickness and landed those titles, causing every home arcade fan to spurt and gush uncontrollably on what I’ve dubbed the IKEA version of arcade cabs. With that being said, why not offer players some of the lesser-known titles along with hundreds of other classic arcade games until such an acquisition can be made? I’m in.

So, both Time Killers and Bloodstorm have left the Island of Misfit toys and found homes with iiRcade players, breathing new life into both these obscure experiences. They’re challenging, difficult to learn, and competitive as hell if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who enjoys similar nonsense. One quarter at a time? Give me Street Fighter 2. Thousands of dollars taking up a chunk of real estate in my living room? I need a conversation piece. Not nostalgia, but a unique story of hopes, dreams, and failures. Just like me. My kind of creators.



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