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Primal Rage: Why It Was Awesome

Updated on January 8, 2015
Gorilla punching a T-Rex. Someone was hyped.
Gorilla punching a T-Rex. Someone was hyped.

Popularity in Violence

In 1992 Mortal Kombat was developed and released by Midway Games, starting a trend of making fighting games as violent as possible. That same violence appealed to gamers because it gave players the opportunity to see some visceral graphics for the first time when they hit, punch, or shot projectiles at each other. Primal Rage, developed in 1994 by Atari Games, took to gory fighting graphics of Mortal Kombat, used dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures as the combatants, and made humanity the source of food for the fighters. In it story Primal Rage made players use gods, beings who would normally help the human fighters fight their enemies, fight each other for dominance of a ruined Earth, the use of non-human combatants, or prehistoric-looking creatures, allowed for more visceral graphics, and the game experimented with new concepts and mechanics that other fighting games at the time never attempted up until Primal Rage's development, like having health items appear on the screen for both opponents to utilize. Primal Rage, while it was not an incredibly popular fighting game compared to Mortal Kombat in regards to imagination and innovation, did several things that were unique when compared to other violent, gory fighting games that players who first played this game thought was awesome for its time

There goes the neighborhood.
There goes the neighborhood.

The End of the World As We Know It

One unique aspect about Primal Rage's plot was that the fighters who were considered the good guys in this game were not fighting to save the Earth from whatever was threatening it, rather all of the fighters in this game, good guys and bad, were all awakened when Earth suffered some major ecological disasters. The good guys, the Virtuous Beasts, consisted of Armadon - the God of Life, Blizzard - the God of Good and Virtue, Sauron - the God of Hunger, and Talon - the God of Survival. The bad guys, the Destructive Beasts, consisted of Chaos - the God of Decay, Diablo - the God of Evil and Destruction, and Vertigo - the Goddess of Insanity. What basically happened was that natural disasters, nearly apocalyptic in how much they ravaged the Earth, altered the Earth so much that it reverted all of the continents into the prehistoric super-continent Pangaea. As a result of this cataclysm humanity as a whole reverted into a more primitive, some would say prehistoric, mindset. Now called Urth, the planet then got to be the giant tournament for the ancient gods to fight and decide who would be sole ruler of the whole planet. Now fighting each other to the death, these gods maul, gouge, slash, bite, stomp, and do some physically grotesque things to each other, all in the name of conquest.

Prehistoric Violence

Primal Rage was a game that wanted to emulate Mortal Kombat's popularity. To do that it attempted to make its fighting content as bloody as it could get away with at the time. With a life meter shaped like a heart and a stamina meter shaped like a brain, Primal Rage tried more overt methods of showing blood or the fighters in pain. When the life meter ran out, the heart exploded. When the stamina meter ran out, the brain was electrified, momentarily paralyzing an opponent. And when the player pushed certain buttons in certain sequences, one of the combatants would finish-off an opponent, and sometimes eat them. Since Primal Rage used non-human creatures as its fighters brutality, mutilation, and gross depictions of murder could be shown in ways human fighters, like the characters in Mortal Kombat, were never allowed to depict on a screen. Another intriguing aspect about Primal Rage's depiction of bloody violence was its level of humor. As seen in this video a giant ape urinated on its opponent until the flesh melted, a serpentine dinosaur shrank or turned an opponent into a cow and proceeded to eat it, and in a violently adorable display a giant velociraptor summoned miniature versions of itself to eat its opponent's corpse. Primal Rage made using a dinosaur to mutilate an opponent and the usage of dinosaurs and other creatures added to its appeal.

Humanity's Eternal Backseat

The thing about humanity in Primal Rage was that humans were an extremely minor aspect of the game. Both sides in this fighting game fought primarily for domination of the Urth rather than protect mankind. Among the Virtuous Beasts, only Armadon and Blizzard had any sympathy for mankind. Sauron - the God of Hunger was forced to eternally find and consume food, and humanity was an option for his hunger, and Talon - the God of Survival considered humanity cattle and would only protect them as a food source. Even most of the endings emphasized that humanity was in a far less-than-ideal situation with any of these gods.

All of these endings depicted the winning god being revered by its followers. What was barely shown was humanity gaining independence or fixing Urth to become more of a modern civilization. The primitive and insignificant state humanity received in this was so severe that one mechanic in the game involved the gods eating human s to regain health to continue fighting their opponents; getting more health if that human worshipped the opposing god. Indeed, humanity was nothing but fodder, metaphorically or literally, in this game. In the endings of Sauron, Talon, and Vertigo humanity was shown in despair. And while Chaos - the God of Decay was revealed to have once been a human, he was forced to be a god whose gimmick was to be completely disgusting. Primal Rage emphasized the epicness of the fights between its non-human characters, but the humans in the game were reduced to insifnificant roles.

Nostalgia

Primal Rage was a game that was brutal, horrific, and awesome at the same time. It allowed players to play as gods fighting other gods over domination of Urth. The player had the opportunity to experience gory special-effects similar to Mortal Kombat, but with more effects like flesh being ripped-off, anatomically correct bone structures being exposed, and the consumption of the opponent. And while humanity as a whole had a severely reduced role in this game compared to other fighting video games Primal Rage was a game where one could have fun and indulge in one major power fantasy at the same time.

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