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Video Game / Primal Rage

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Before there were humans, gods walked the Earth. They embodied the essence of Hunger, Survival, Insanity, Life, Decay, Good, and Evil. They fought countless battles up through the Mesozoic Wars. Then Balsafas, an archmage from a parallel dimension, anticipated the threat that Earth's gods posed. He was not powerful enough to kill the gods, so instead he banished one to a rocky tomb within the Moon. This disrupted the fragile balance between the gods; pandemonium ensued, and a great explosion threw clouds of volcanic dust into the atmosphere. The dinosaurs died out, and the surviving gods went into suspended animation.

Now, a huge meteor strikes the Earth. Its destructive force wipes out civilization, rearranges the continents, and frees the imprisoned gods. Who will rule the "New Urth"? Get ready to rage...

Playable characters:

This 1994 Fighting Game is a little unusual in that there's no boss character to smack around; instead, there's a pseudo-Boss Rush at the end where you have to fight all seven characters again, one after the other. There was a planned upgrade that would've given the game a boss to defeat in order to beat the game, but that went unreleased by Atari Games. There was also a planned sequel simply called Primal Rage II that went unreleased due to there being too many Fighting Games at the time. However, a single prototype of it has been obtained by the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, Illinois. (Sadly, this means that this is the only place in the world where you can actually play the game.) Footage can be found here. Eventually, in 2017, a special build of MAME was made just to play this game.

There was also a novel based on the game, Primal Rage: The Avatars. Although not literature of exceptional quality, it is noteworthy in that it expanded the backstories of the Gods, and introduced two characters that would have been in the sequel; Slashfang the sabertooth tiger, and Necronus/Necrosan, the aforementioned boss.

Has nothing to do with the 2018 film of the same name.

This game contains examples of:

  • Adjustable Censorship: You can turn gore on or off.
  • After the End: The story is set in a future in which modern civilization is wiped out by a meteor and everyone who has survived is sent back to the Stone Age.
  • And I Must Scream: The entire human race suffers this if Vertigo takes over.
  • Animalistic Abomination: The gods themselves resemble dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts, but are beings of immeasurable power that were even responsible for the extinction of the actual dinosaurs.
  • Anti-Hero: The four Virtuous Beasts. Note that the separating of the dino gods into the "Virtuous Beasts" and "Destructive Dinos" was created purely for the toyline (it was aimed at kids, after all) and has no bearing on the video game or novel storyline, which explains both Sauron's and Talon's douchebaggery. It should also be noted that these are essentially Kaiju. The "heroic" ones (save for Blizzard, who is actually interested in teaching his followers... in the novel) are more concerned with protecting their territory and facing off against earth-destroying evils than they are with something that is little more than food to them.
  • Anti-Villain: Chaos is by far the least unpleasant of the Destructive Dinos, in terms of personality, that is; he's the most unpleasant in the physical sense due to living in his own filth for eons. In his ending, he regains his human form and leads the human tribes in rebuilding the world. He's also actually handsome.
    • According to the novel, while both Talon and Sauron do horrible things to their followers (keeping them as cattle/eating them respectively), they are still more or less decent gods that will reward those who serve them faithfully.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • The Gods were freed in a planetary-level apocalypse — a meteor shower. In the novel, the biggest of the meteors was Necrosan's egg.
    • The dimension of Balsafas and his fellow mages, however, was hit by a Universal and Metaphysical-level apocalypse. When Blizzard manages to look into the mage's dimension, he sees absolutely nothing.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: With "Artistic License" in quote marks the size of the end-Cretaceous asteroid. They are dinosaur and ape gods, mind, which excuses at least a little—and bonus points for having a (lightly) feathered raptor in 1994!
  • Big Bad Wannabe: In the unreleased sequel, Necrosan surprisingly turns out to be this in his ending. Despite being dangerous enough to seal other gods and force them to ally against him, in his ending, where he does succeed in conquering the planet, he and the army he created are wiped out by the unnamed enemies of his masters. The narrations state the Necrosan's creations are soldiers in a Hopeless War against enemies far more terrifying than them.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Virtuous Beasts are very dark Anti-Heroes, but they're still the lighter shade compared to the wicked Diablo and Vertigo. After all, the worst the Virtuous Beasts can do is kill and eat you — and canonically, the only ones who do so are Talon and Sauron. Blizzard is more interested in reading and teaching his followers, and Armadon prefers dozing off.
  • Blood Sport: In some versions, bowling and even volleyball games can be set up in versus matches, with the humans serving as pins and ball, respectively.
  • Boss Rush: This takes place instead of a Final Boss battle, which was planned but cut.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • At the last minute, Chaos' Urine Trouble Finishing Move was taken out of the Super Nintendo port of the game. Performing it in that version will result in Chaos merely performing his victory pose while a red circle with a line through it flashes.
    • In some versions of the game, one human victim (whose brains have spilled out) is blurred in Sauron's ending screen.
    • The toyline by Playmates, being aimed at kids, toned down or outright removed many of the nastier aspects of the gods and even lumped then into the heroic "Virtuous Beasts" against the evil "Destructive Dinos," while in the game, it's pretty much Black-and-Grey Morality at best. Chief among these is the toyline bios playing up Talon's protectiveness towards his raptor clan and ignoring his treatment of humans, and making no mention of Sauron constantly eating his own followers.
  • Breath Weapon: Diablo's Torch, Chaos' Power Puke, Sauron's Sonic Roar and Primal Scream, Blizzard's Freeze Breath, and Vertigo's Voodoo Spit.
  • Carnivorous Healing Factor: You replenish your character's health in battle by eating worshippers.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of the novel calls the dracolich Necronus, the novel itself calls it Necrosan.
  • Crapsack World: It's a bad time to be a human on Urth. Blizzard and Armadon are the only Dino Gods who have even the slightest consideration for humans, and Blizzard's attempts to get the Gods to stop being dickbags is ignored in the novels, while Armadon wants to sleep.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • The special moves are performed by holding down the buttons and then inputting the directions, instead of the other way around like in most other fighters. You can still perform them the normal way in some versions of the game, but seeing that all of them require you to hit at least 2 attack buttons at the same time, it's not really worth the trouble.
    • The developers admitted this input change came about purely out of a desire to stand out from other games, a "change for change's sake". However, this input method proved to be so ill-received by test players in Japan that the developers relented and reverted the game to a traditional "direction-then-button" method for the Japanese release.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Chaos is classified as a Destructive Dino, but he's only fighting to break the dark spell he accidentally cast upon himself (the one that turned him into a filthy, disgusting ape). If he is freed from the spell, he leads his tribe to greatness.
  • Darker and Edgier: Ironically averted in the novel, which has everyone teaming up to wail on an undead dragon.
  • Dem Bones: Necrosan, the boss in the cancelled sequel, was a skeletal dragon/dinosaur thing.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Gods, more accurately. In the book (and the canceled sequel), though, there is an undead dragon that shows up to annoy everyone.
  • The Dinosaurs Had It Coming: Well, when five of them are super powerful warring deities, you can't blame their extinction.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ancient, horrible, sleeping deities finally awaken and wreak havoc upon the world and then start slapping the shit out of each other. It's like the Cthulhu Mythos meets Jurassic Park meets Mortal Kombat.
    • Speaking of Mortal Kombat, the designers probably had a certain blue-garbed Ninja in mind when they designed Blizzard. If anything, the projectile attack he uses is almost identical.
    • When selecting Sauron, you can choose a purple skin tone for him.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Necrosan's ending in the unreleased sequel reveals he is the servant of aliens planning to invade Urth and sent him to prepare the planet for their colonization of it. While only a minion of those aliens, Necrosan is the main threat, and their invasion fails if he is defeated. Bonus points for being an actual dragon
  • Dramatic Thunder: Combos that inflict heavy damage are emphasized with this trope and accompanying lightning in the background when finished; the bigger the combo, the bigger the effect.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Vertigo seeks to drive the entire world hopelessly insane, while Diablo wants to turn the world into a hellish realm of torment.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: If Chaos wins, he finally manages to turn himself back into a human shaman.
  • Enemy Mine: The plot of Rage II involved the awakening of Necrosan and the sealing of the gods. Because of this, all the gods, Destructive and Virtuous, decided it'd be in their interest of keeping Urth to themselves to align and send Necrosan back to where he came from, choosing avatar representatives to fight in their stead.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: In the novel, humans eaten by Necrosan immediately become zombies. Even Diablo and Vertigo find this horrifying.
  • Exposed to the Elements: In Blizzard's ending, his worshipful followers are showing a lot of skin for people on top of an ice mountain.
  • Expressive Health Bar: If you have the gore enabled, the gauge displays with a long artery-like graphic and ends in a beating heart. Die, and the heart explodes in a bloody mess. Meanwhile, your stun bar is a brain and spinal column that arcs with electricity as you get hit. Die, and it crumbles into ash.
  • Expy: The game itself is one big prehistoric-themed expy of Mortal Kombat, with gore, fatalities, and a roster of rotoscoped characters (six male and one female), but particular characters are expies of those found in both Mortal Kombat and even Street Fighter. Some characters are palette swapped opposites of one another MK, such as Blizzard and Chaos as opposing apes and Sauron and Diablo as opposing tyrannosaurs, just like the ninja of Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile, Ermac, Rain, and Noob Saibot, the female fighters Milenna, Kitana, and Jade, and the cyborgs Cyrax, Sektor, and Smoke from the original trilogy. Blizzard's ice powers are an expy of Sub-Zero's, and Diablo's fire breath is an expy of Scorpion's. Street Fighter shows its influence in Vertigo, with her long reach, slow jumping, and teleporting making her an expy of Dhalsim, and Armadon, with his ball rolling and electric powers making him an expy of Blanka. Even Talon has an expy head stomping move right out of Vega/Bison's book.
  • Fantasy World Map: The meteor rearranged the continents to look like a Tyrannosaurus skull. In the cancelled sequel, there's another set of continents that resemble a human skull.
  • Fartillery: Trope picture. One of Chaos' moves is the "Fart of Fury."
  • Females Are More Innocent: Inverted. Vertigo, the sole female dino, is one of the Destructive Gods and doesn't have any Anti-Villain elements; she's just evil.
  • Finishing Move: They're present in the same vein as Mortal Kombat. The cancelled sequel unofficially calls them Extinctions.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Armadon, who is awoken by the constant tremors and destruction caused by the other Gods.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the novel context, gods like Blizzard and Armadon would rather be peaceful and not harm humans with the latter being explicitly vegetarian, even teaming up as a result of their more merciful natures. In the games, they can eat their followers just like anyone else, and go around slaughtering the other gods to be the last one standing regardless of whether they're Virtuous or not.
  • Giant Animal Worship: The game features giant gods who take the form of apes and dinosaurs, and their cultists and followers who follow the gods around during fights. You can pick them up and eat them for a small health bonus.
  • Golden Ending: Blizzard's ending seems to be the most positive, as he's by far the nicest of the gods, and his ending shows him just chilling with some of his worshippers. Also Chaos, who leads and rebuilds humanity.
  • Gorn:
    • As if the gameplay hadn't had enough of this, the energy bars are veins connected to hearts at the end, and the stun bar below is a nerve linked to a brain. Winning a match causes the loser's heart to explode and the brain to dissolve into ashes. There are also the fatalities.
    • The Final Battle Stage, which is littered with skeletonized dinosaur corpses with traces of flesh, muscle, and tissue still hanging on them.
    • "The Feast of Sauron" ending picture, especially the unlucky bastard in front.
      • There's also how Sauron is introduced in the Arcade's backstory screens—emerging from the ocean to bloodily chomp on a surfer.
    • In the intro screens, Talon is being interrupted by Vertigo while feeding on Chaos' carcass, complete with torn-open chest and visible ribs.
    • Speaking of Talon, his Shredder Fatality became even gorier with updates. In prior versions, the victim did the stock animation collapse in a fountain of blood. Version 2.3 and the home ports (if you have the "gore" option set to on) left the victim standing, but lifeless, skin torn apart and lots of skeleton exposed.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In the unreleased sequel, the unnamed enemies of Necrosan's masters, who are only mentioned in his ending. In his ending, it is revealed that his masters sent him to Urth to create an army for a war, a losing war. The enemies he is intended to fight against are a far worse evil who easily wipe out the army Necrosan created and conquer the planet.
  • Home-Run Hitter: Blizzard's To Da Moon Fatality, where he knocks his foe airborne with a mighty punch.
  • Horror Hunger: Sauron. Being the "God Of Hunger", he must have a constant supply of flesh to sustain himself. Luckily for him, there are plenty of humans to devour.
  • Humans Are Not the Dominant Species: Humans have regressed into tribes and are subservient to their animal-esque gods.
  • An Ice Ape: Blizzard.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Aside from the thing about Sauron, this is actually a gameplay mechanic. Eating the humans that wander haplessly into the battlefield allows you to recover a bit of health. The novel also mentions that followers of Diablo file down their teeth to fangs and eat the flesh of other gods' followers.
  • King Kong Copy: Two of the playable characters — Blizzard and Chaos — are King Kong-like gigantic apes.
  • Lighter and Softer: Not that it actually means a lot, as there's still a decent amount of Gorn and death, but the ill-fated sequel most definitely was dialing back the violence from the first game. About the most violent fatality was Keena using her opponent's intestines as a jump rope, but otherwise even the endings were unanimously far less bleak than the darker endings of the original. Well, aside from Necrosan's, and he gets Laser-Guided Karma when not long after overtaking New Urth, the Necroid's mysterious enemies in space wipe out his species anyway.
  • Mighty Glacier: Sauron and Armadon. Armadon, at least, can fire projectiles, and Sauron has Area-of-Effect attacks.
  • Minigame: By performing specific tasks, you could get a game of volleyball or bowling going in the middle of a match, using your followers as the ball and pins, respectively.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Armadon has a Centrosaurus head and frill, an Iguanadon bipedal body and thumb spikes, an Ankylosaurus tail club and armored back (although no known Ankylosaur's back was as spiky as Armadon's). As for Vertigo, she isn't shaped quite like any known dinosaurnote , and has a cobra-like head and neck and a long snake like tail.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Perform enough hits and damage with a single combo, and your followers will celebrate by streaking.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The main characters are named Diablo, Talon, Vertigo, Sauron, Blizzard, Armadon, and Chaos.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: This actual disclaimer appears on the demo screens, although it is very doubtful that the ASPCA would be suspicious of a video game.
  • No Fair Cheating: Probably the first fighter with a built-in "cheapness" detection feature: it's generally triggered if you repeat the same move multiple times in a row in a combo or if you follow up specific moves with ones that would allow you to repeat the sequence endlessly. If triggered, it ends the combo, prevents the offending move from doing damage or hitstun to the recipient and flashes a "no cheese" sign on the screen.
  • Nominal Hero: Talon and Sauron may be among the Virtuous Beasts, but they respectively want to enslave all humans and eat all humans.
    • It's also worth noting that in the novel, Talon (and Slashfang) were noted to be Neutral rather than Virtuous.
  • Now That's Using Your Teeth!: A lot of moves, especially from Sauron, Diablo, and Talon, involve biting the enemy, Who would have guessed?
  • Object-Shaped Landmass: The same meteor that reawakens the Primal Gods also rearranges the continents into the shape of a giant T. rex skull. The sequel would have featured a second continent shaped like a human skull. Somehow.
  • Palette Swap: Chaos and Diablo are smaller, redder versions of Blizzard and Sauron, respectively.
  • Please Wake Up: On the continue screens after losing, you can see the humans trying to revive their respective god, with one of them pleading to the player to continue.
  • Prehistoria: It's more like Posthistoria, but they were fighting Prehistoria.
  • Primate Versus Reptile: All the gods are dinosaurs or giant apes. A lot of the posters would specifically put Blizzard and Sauron on the cover, too, leaning into the gorilla vs. T. rex angle.
  • Puny Earthlings: We have no civilization, no weapons shown, and there's a half dozen gods running around.
  • Recycled In Space: It's Mortal Kombat WITH DINOSAURS AND GIANT GORILLAS!
  • Remember the New Guy?: Slashfang got the treatment in the novel. He was always there, but he stayed in the Savannas he called home until the other dino gods discovered and invaded them, causing him to join the war.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: Talon is a Virtuous Beast and a loyal defender of raptorkind. Humans are not his people; even his human followers are nothing more than cattle. Though sometimes he'll spare followers who can bring more humans for him and his kind to eat.
  • Rule of Cool: Almost everything in this game would be insanely stupid if it wasn't also insanely awesome.
  • Rules of the Road: The game has a "No Cheese" sign (a wedge of Swiss cheese with a red bar through it) that flashes whenever a player tries a "cheesy" fighting tactic, such as throwing another while they're stunned from blocking, or using two stun techniques in the same combo.
  • Shock and Awe: One of Armadon's finishers, Meditation, which involves him curling up and zapping his opponent with lightning.
  • Shout-Out: Does the name "Sauron" remind you of a certain famous fantasy epic?
  • Shrink Ray: One of Vertigo's fatalities involves her shrinking the opponent and eating them.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Vertigo. Averted in the novel, as Vertigo and Talon both have female avatars.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The Earth "post-meteor" is renamed "New Urth".
  • Stripped to the Bone: A few fatalities do this, and also during the final Boss Rush after defeating an opponent. it quickly decays and leaves behind its skeleton.
  • Tail Slap: Vertigo uses her tail as a whip-like weapon.
  • Taken for Granite: Vertigo can turn the opponent to stone and shatter them for one of her fatalities.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Blizzard is the only one of the gods who can be called an outright good guy, as the other so called "Virtuous Beasts", while not actively malevolent, tend to regard humans as nuisances or dinner.
    • Likewise, of the Destructive Dinos, Chaos is the only one with any redeeming traits at all... despite being the grossest character in the game.
  • To Serve Man: The gods eat their worshippers. And yes, you can do this when you're playing as them. It's worth noting that you restore more health from eating your enemy's followers.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Blizzard and Armadon are the "goodest" characters in the series, but they're both not above chowing down on their own followers in an emergency, or other Gods' followers just because. (The novelization, of course, does away with this.)
  • Urban Ruins: The Ruins stage, Chaos' home turf, is the standing remains of a human city, fallen into disrepair and overgrown with plantlife.
  • Urine Trouble: Chaos' "Golden Shower" fatality. This move was so disgusting that it was removed in an upgrade.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The major gameplay advancement in Primal Rage II would have been the ability to channel the power of the gods as their avatars, temporarily transforming them into their respective gods. Likewise, the gods themselves were hidden fighters and could briefly transform back into their avatars when you played as them.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Chaos' "Power Puke".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The God of Death (one of the eight essences mentioned in the backstory) is never properly presented. He may or may not be Necrosan, though.note 
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Even Blizzard, the nicest of the Virtuous Beasts, isn't above chowing down on his followers, and Talon, as mentioned, considers humans to be cattle. Even Armadon isn't proven to be a total vegetarian, since he has to eat worshippers and Pteranodons to gain health. Inverted in the novelization, oddly. Talon eventually considers a simple human worthy of bearing his gauntlets, and Blizzard is a nice, peaceful ape who'd rather teach his followers the virtues of learning.
  • World of Badass: You'll probably end up dying, especially if you're a human. On the plus side, it may well be the coolest death imaginable!