A 1990 title developed by Raising Hell Software (later known as Bizarre Creations) and released by Psygnosis for the Amiga and Atari ST, later ported to the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive under the title Fatal Rewind, at its core, The Killing Game Show is just what it is, a Deadly Game.
The premise of the game is simple: get to the top of the stage to advance. However, HALF's (Hostile Artificial Life Forms) are released into the stage to impede progress. The biggest danger, however, comes from the DOLL (Deadly to Organic Life Liquid) that is constantly being pumped into the stage after the beginning of stage countdown finishes. Touch it, and die instantly. There are a multitude of weapons and tools to use, including keys to unlock doors and a liquid freezer to stop the rising DOLL, and knowing how to use them will save you.
The backstory of the game is as follows: In the late 21st century, incarcerated criminals are given a shot at freedom by playing the game. However, they are stripped down to their vital organs and nervous systems, then placed into a machine armed with a simple cannon. If anyone can make their escape from the 16 pits of death (cylindrical pits built into eight custom satellite moons, two pits per moon/level), they get their life back. As for anyone who ends up dead... well, onto the next challenger.
The actual main character of the game is a criminal named Carl. Part of a Freedom Fighter group working to displace the local government, after he is caught during a police raid due to a suspected Mole, he meets up with an old friend of his, who tells him they're going to be forced into the above mentioned game, which nobody's come out from alive, as an example. Carl is then determined to win the game, since it would potentially mark him as an international hero, and help give enough leverage to overthrow the government.
The Sega port, Fatal Rewind's story is somewhat less harsh, as it follows the story of a man trying to get money for his sick daughter's operation. This version was published by Electronic Arts, and has two levels cut from it due to space limitations on the Genesis.
Noticeably, there was a rather unique feature: should the player die, they will watch the AI take them through the same path they took, right up to their death. This can be fast-forwarded with the corresponding key or button, and you can take over manually to stop the replay and potentially avoid making the same mistake twice.
Tropes associated with The Killing Game Show:
- All There in the Manual: The backstory of main man Carl, as well as the Nightmare Fuel-riffic process of how contestants are prepped for the game.
- Anti-Frustration Features: The aforementioned playback mechanic.
- A tool with F2 displayed on it will freeze the DOLL, giving you precious time to finish a puzzle (and since it has an ammo count, you can hold onto it for later use). Another tool will reset the DOLL timer, but unlike the F2 tool it activates automatically. Don't waste either of them.
- Blood Sport: It's right there in the title.
- Cyborg / Chicken Walker: Yourself. See the YMMV tab for how you get turned into it.
- Deadly Game
- Grimy Water: The DOLL itself. Touching it is instant death, but the closer you are to it, the faster your score rises, thus giving the player an impromptu timer.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: An offscreen version, in the bqckstory this is what happened to the H.A.L.F contestants, having their bodies severed under the waist so their upper halves can be converted into machines.
- Hint System: Tools with an eye shape in them are Oracles, and they can give you clues for progression. Sometimes, though, they'll just display nonsense."Have a Nice Day!"
- Lock and Key Puzzle: You used "Shaped Keys" to unlock certain passageways and doors. Interestingly, one unique puzzle has you collect letters, then manipulate switches to get them to spell out "Psygnosis" in order to clear the stage.
- Mercy Invincibility: HA HA HANo.
- Never Say "Die": The Killing Game show has been renamed to Fatal Rewind of the Genesis because of the Word, "Kill".
- Nintendo Hard: Stage 1-2 starts the use of keys, 2-2 starts the collect X number of items to open the gate, 3-1 has switch puzzles, 6-2 (4-2 in the Genesis release) has insta-death skeletons, and the list goes on. The fact that there are limited lives and continues (with no way to earn extra continues, though you do get a life at the end of each stage) does make for a very tough challenge.
- Red Herring: An actual item that can be picked up, though it serves no use aside from taking up your tool slot.
- Rise to the Challenge: Once the timer stops counting down, the DOLL starts rising. Best get moving.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Later levels are filled with these. Memorization is key to using them.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Once keys are introduced, you'll need to memorize their locations to outrun the DOLL.
- A Winner Is You: Somehow beat the game and you get rewarded with a whole two lines of text!