The Unsung Games Collumn –Primal Rage

I admit it, im what most would consider a Nerdinosaur. When i was a kid i played with dinosaur figures all day long, ate dinosaur shaped meals. (A la Jurassic crap flavour) and even had dinosaur encyclopedias (No comment) So of course when i discovered an arcade game which featured all the awesomeness, brutality and gore I had dreamed of. I marked this game as an instant classic in my feeble little mind, How much do you ask?, enough for me to choose my nick name in honor of the gigantic ice breathing Blizzard, (yeah i know he is an gorilla but Blue Ape doesn´t had that special ring to it).

The Primal Rage Arcade was developed and published by Atari on 1994, following the trend initiated by Pit Fighter and later on by Mortal Kombat of using digitized photos to represent the characters instead of the traditional drawn sprites. However, the cast was entirely composed of clay models much like Goro. And also, much like in such forementioned games, censorship had its various issues with it. Blood colored like vomit, a golden shower fatality removed from many versions, the list went on and on.

The cast included seven different beast to fight with, but i must say that even tough i love the style and detail on some of their design, the roster could have used some more variety as four of the creatures, namely: Sauron/Diablo, two Tyrannosaurus Rex look alikes & Blizzard/ Chaos, a pair of gigantic gorillas, are palette swaps of one another. Fortunately enough, that doesn´t mean Atari pulled the Ryu-Ken trick on us and at the very least their powers are different… So i guess they pulled the Sub Zero-Scorpion trick on us instead.

 The story of the game goes like this, a meteor crashed on our planet bringing a cloud of radiation which mutated various life forms into monstrous aberrations the size of buildings and converted the ecosystem into a perpetual rainforest. In a nutshell, this is what would have happened if Bruce Willis had failed in Armaggedon.

This new world, now known as Urth (Surely named by 90´s cavemen kids who´d taught that living on a planet with a name that sounded like burping would be fun) is dominated by seven legendary beast adored as gods by humans who, now without technology but with enough intellect to dye their clothing on intense electric colors to support their preferred aberration while following and cheering them up in their quest for more territory. Ahh the priorities in some people´s lives.

The more territories the more people will follow you and the higher your score will be.

As a matter of fact, eating your followers or your rival´s play a major strategic role on the game since doing so replenishes your Health a little bit. However while eating your rival´s people will give you point bonuses eating your own will detract from them.

Don´t you love getting eaten and then crapped by that thing in which you believed in?…Ok, am i the only one sensing political-religious undertones in this?

The life meter had the form of a vein filed with blood which lowered each time you got hit, at the end of the vein would be a pulsating heart  which exploded if you lost a round, but hey you had another one Ready for round two so i suppose these beasts must be the cows of dinosaurs with two or three spare organs for whenever you might need one available. You can pull Perfect scores which are called a Total Dominations.

Below it you had a Brain meter which also lowered everytime you got hit but would slowly regenerate itself just like it would after a long party on Saturday, but if it reached deep bottom the brain would suffer an electric shock (Brainstorming?) and your character would be paralyzed until you got hit.

The gameplay had its hightlights and its downfalls, the characters had that weight that many other fighter games failed to accomplish making your sense timing essential for battle.

The original arcade demanded that you would press the attack button and then the joystick maneuver in order to make an special, this change made the younge Blue Monkey go ape trying to figure out why I couldn’t release my hadoukens onmy enemies until my supreme monkey sees, monkey does abilities took charge and I finally replicated the moves with wich other guys handed me my Primal Rear.

Speaking of special moves, they had their share of problems, most were hard to pull off or had issues with the hit detection. In many home versions cases the characters weren´t able to chain their attacks which made combo creation impossible. This varied in better or worse degree from the very crappy Gameboy version to the superior conversion in Sega Saturn.

Visual glitches also had it share of the prey since the characters tend to stand in mid air while they´re falling after a jump or a juggle. I admit seeing a dinosaur levitating would definitely convince me of its godhood, but he not beign able to control his landings at will would surely make the futuristic caveman in me reconsider his options.

The final battle would be a non-stop combat against the seven beasts in a row with a full energy bar plus the extra energy gained by a previous bonus game in which you must devour as many followers as possible. A common tactic used in beat´em ups of the 90´s implemented in a fighting game. I can´t say i was a fan of such decision since I would have very much preferred an original character, cheap as it might have been as the final boss, however it was a challenge and seeing the corpses of the defeated rivals while you are fighting did helped while I was trying to keep the morale up.

Primal Rage was re-released in the Midway Arcade Treasures 2 collection but it proved to be a lacking version with its content incomplete and the censorship from the nineties still up, I don´t understand the developers, only fans would buy this version so why keep the restrictions, we didn´t even the option to remove it like other violent games of the same period like Mk3 or Killer Instinct, this accompanied by a failed intent of sequel (Which I will not touch here) has condemned this title to obscurity.

Above all I recommend all fighting game enthusiasts to give it a play, the brutal fights are in my opinion worth every second of your time and the only other gigantic beast approach on the fighting genre; Godzilla has taken a totally different approach on the fights. RAGE!!


The Different Factors





Taking the best from the   masters of the genre at the time, Primal Rage instituted a few innovations   such as the strategic usage of healing during the battles. However depending   on the system you´re playing at the mechanics tend get chunky at times.



It constructed over what Midway   had done with Mortal Kombat, the models hold themselves even to these days   standards.



Going from glorious to shameful   ripping of bad to the bone (Just listen to Sauron Stage theme). Anyone who   liked the stage theme of Blanka in SF2 should give this a listen. If you like   it, check for the arraged version called All the Rage, it is a superb album

Soundeffects &Voices


The sounds of the beast fit   perfectly and the cheesy praises and pain screams of your followers add to   the mix



As a fighting game, as long as   you have a friend with which to play it with the rage will go on.



Its weakest point, some   specials are hard to pull and the hit detection on some of those is totally   brocken

Features & Unique Content


Home version of the game tend   to be incomplete in different ways, from incomplete roster of characters to   moves missing, sound quality varied and the gameplay got crippled im many   versions, this being the decisive factor why players don´t look back to this   title with appreciation.

Story   & Character design


In an era filled with design   rip-offs, Primal Rage bringed post apocalyptic settings and bestial designs   to the table, even some scatology was added to the mix incarnated in the form   of Chaos the gorilla who vomits and releases gases as attacks… it just   oozes originality…among other fluids, even none players remember having seen   this game passing by on the arcade games.



An semi obscure game which i think   would be a welcome addition to any collection, I can only hope to pray to the   ancient gods for a revamp on this series or at the very least a arcade   faithful conversion for home consoles.

Pro & Contra



+ Interesting   Looking Characters, very different from the normative fighting game designs

– Four   out of seven are palette swaps

+ Original   settings and story made it stand out from the sea of mediocrity of the time

– Combo   ability disabled in most home consoles

+ Brutal, cool looking fatalities

– Censorship

+ Tribal sound OST

– Gameplay   gets cloggy at times depending on the system

+ Healing   stategy