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Video Game / Tattoo Assassins

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"Everybody shot fire out of their asses. Everybody vomited. It was a free-for-all of weird shit that went into that game. (...) Some of them were amusing. Some of them were just pathetic. It was done half-assed."
Jack Liddon, developer of Tattoo Assassins

One of the many fighting games that tried to copy Mortal Kombat, developed by Data East (specifically, their pinball division, now known as Stern Pinballnote ) at the height of the MK craze. It was never actually released, but a mostly complete ROM has been found.

The story began during development of Data East's Back to the Future pinball game, when Data East executive Joe Kaminkow became friends with BTTF producer Bob Gale. Bob subsequently talked to Joe about a script for a story about magic tattoos coming to life and fighting each other; Kaminkow decided to turn the story into a fighting game. He assembled a team of programmers and set out to cash in on the latest fad.

Unfortunately, the game was given less than half of the budget and schedule of most arcade games of the time.

The story revolves around the Ink of Ghize, a multi-colored ink that can come alive if applied as a tattoo. However, unless someone has a certain genetic makeup, they are turned into shambling mutants. Koldan, the only member of the Order of Colors’ Color Guard that can use the ink, decides to Take Over the World with a mutant army. The Order of Colors’ leader, Mullah Abba, recruits nine others to use the Ink, only for Koldan to Mind Control them all. Enter Lyla Blue (played by Slash's then-wife, Renee Hudson), who can control any of the assassins.

Gameplay wise... it's Mortal Kombat, only buggier, less visually appealing, virtually characterless, and with fart and diarrhea moves. The game's main feature was the (supposed) over two thousand finishing moves. Nearly all of them, however, involved things like summoning the DeLorean from Back to the Future, turning someone into a bunless hot dog, or crushing them with a boat. They even had Nudalities.

Although the game was almost finished, it was ultimately cancelled due to negative tester feedback and fear that it would not be able to compete with other titles of the day, such as Killer Instinct. There was a feature about the game in Electronic Gaming Monthly, but despite this, it was largely forgotten. It does have a small cult following, though.

This game contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Karla Keller, Hannah Hart.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Pretty much anyone that's played this game can tell you it's entirely possible to just jump kick your way through the whole thing. The AI is really that stupid.
  • Captain Ersatz: Granted, since the game was trying to play Follow the Leader with Mortal Kombat. For example, A.C. Current is Johnny Cage with Raiden's powers, Derek O' Toole with his red headband looks like Liu Kang, and perhaps most blatantly, Luke Cord is Jax with an octopus on his chest.
    • Then there is Rhina for Sheeva, Billy Two Moons for Nightwolf and Koldan for Shang Tsung.
  • Captain Ethnic: Billy Two Moons. If there was a "Mr. Native American Stereotype" competition, he and Pakawa from Kasumi Ninja would be fighting for first prize.
  • Dem Bones:
  • Department of Redundancy Department: One of the characters is named "AC Current". Given his electric theme, AC most likely stands for "Alternating Current". So his full name is "Alternating Current Current".
  • Digitized Sprites: Like its inspiration, this game uses pictures of real people as the basis for its sprites.
  • Fake Difficulty: The four bosses have their animations play at double speed, so their wake-up is nearly instantaneous.
  • Fan Disservice: The "Nudalities" become significantly less interesting when you realize about 2/3rds of the cast are large, fairly ugly men.
  • Fartillery: All characters can attack with farts that come out and curve upward.
  • Finishing Move: Allegedly over two thousand of them. Each character had two to four unique finishing moves. All characters also had access to a communal pot of finishers, most of which involved things like falling DeLoreans or turning the loser into Whistler's Mother. There are also the Nudalities, one per character. The devs calculated the total number of fatalities by multiplying the communal finishers by the number of characters, giving a grossly inflated number.
  • Forced Transformation: A lot of the finishers turn the opponent into an animal or object. Most of them are just represented by a still image of whatever they're supposed to become replacing your opponent's graphic.
  • Groin Attack: All three female characters castrate Koldan in their Flawless Victory endings. Some of the characters can also do this in game, complete with the opponent's eyes popping out.
  • Larynx Dissonance: The imperfect sound emulation in the MAME ROM shuffles everyone's voice samples, making everyone say and scream things that don't match their character, and in some cases, playing samples at the wrong times, making them say things like "Get up and fight" and "Navy rules" when they uppercut the opponent.
  • Meaningful Name: A.C. Current, who has electric-based powers.
  • Multiple Endings: Kinda. Each character has two newspaper clippings: one, which "resolves" their plotline (most of them don't actually match the bios — most egregiously, Karla's bio states she's seeking revenge against her rival Eva Gunther, but her ending is "I'm Going To Disneyland!"), you get the normal way; the other, which describes the character doing something horrible to Koldan, you get by defeating him with a Flawless Victory in the match-point round. Do Well, But Not Perfect if you want the more satisfying conclusion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mullah Abba, who is supposed to be the wise mentor of the game, does this twice before the game even begins. Firstly he tattoos Koldan in an effort to make him into a better bodyguard, only to turn him into a genocidal supervillain instead. Then the Mullah tattoos nine other people in an effort to stop Koldan, only for Koldan to seize control of eight of them and use them for his own ends.
  • NOT!: Due to incomplete emulation, Koldan yells this during each Versus Character Splash instead of laughing like he's supposed to.
  • Plot Hole: Hannah Hart's bio states she's looking for the man who killed her best friend, but her ending states that the killer murdered her sister.
  • Punny Name: The boss character Deke Cay, who is a zombie.
  • Refuge in Audacity
    Joe Kaminkow: All I can say is, we had no good taste, no good decorum, and no good style. There almost wasn’t anything that was off limits.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: There are references to Jeffrey Dahmer, Lorena Bobbitt, and Aldrich Ames, and a whole character based on Nancy Kerrigan.
  • Shout-Out: Even they have it, believe.
    • One of the fatalities involves dropping a DeLorean on the enemy. All because the guy who wrote the "story" for the game was the aforementioned screenwriter from Back to the Future.
    • Also, another of the finishers is a Shout-Out to BurgerTime, an early Data East title.
    • Yet another Fatality turns the loser into a bunless hot dog. The caption? "I wish I was a..."
    • One of Tak Hata's Fatalities involve his tattoo laying an egg, which hatches into a two-headed Barney Expy.
  • Toilet Humor: You can kill an opponent with flaming diarrhea and every character has a fart attack.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Lyla Blue serves as the game's character select screen, with your cursor highlighting the tattoos on her bare back.
  • Totally Radical: This is a very obvious Darker and Edgier rip off Mortal Kombat with magical tattoos and fart jokes, so you could just call it The Nineties, the Video Game.