65 million years ago dinosaurs roamed the Earth. They ruled the world with an iron fist, crushing all other life forms with their clawed talons and mighty jaws. They were the dumbest creatures on the planet, but they were the majority, and the strongest, so they owned the place. However, political allegories must come to an end, and, according to top ranking scientists, Lavos fell to Earth and wiped out our giant lizard friends. Thus ended the tale of the dinos.
Now, even after millions of years, there is still a romanticism involved with the thunder lizards. Whereas the average adult hardly gives the lumbering lugs a second thought, children are often fascinated with creatures that, given the opportunity, would crush any manner of mammal that made them eat asparagus. Dinosaurs are embodiments of reckless power and strength, and, to the average hyperactive five year old, man is that cool. And, since most of us were once five, it will always be in our collective unconscious that dinosaurs are cool. Dinosaurs can do anything! And they can market anything.
Or at least try…
Meet Primal Rage, and, in this case, the SNES version, because it holds a special place in my heart… as cancer. Yes, one day I will die of heart cancer, and one of you crazy readers will say, “That’s because of Primal Rage! It killed him! It killed Goggle Bob!” And then, following a frivolous lawsuit with national attention, all heart cancer will be referred to as “Primal Rage” and my life will not have been in vain.
Yes, that’s why I maintain this site. For the future.
But back to our past. Closer to our epoch than the Age of Dinosaurs, the Age of Fighting Games occurred the precise moment it was cool to watch a hairy Russian wearing a speedo smash a petite Chinese woman into a pile of barrels. Think it was ’92. Anyway, from there, Mortal Kombat came out of nowhere to become a tech demo that went on to create a franchise based on unfettered violence. So producers knew people wanted fighting and they wanted violence, but there needed to be a new gimmick, something to separate a new game from all the Art of Fightings and Time Killerses. And who should come up with that new gimmick but Atari. Yes, the people responsible for the Atari Jaguar, the people who nearly leveled the gaming world with their amazing marketing strategies and game releases, the people who turned away little old Nintendo and that silly Donkey Kong, they had an idea. And that idea was Primal Rage. It’s dinosaurs fighting!
… Now you know everything you need to know about Primal Rage.
Well, to elaborate a little, it’s a Mortal Kombat generation fighting game, which means:
- 1 on 1 fighting in 7 different arenas, each themed after the 7 different fighters
- Unintelligible, seemingly random button motions required just to make your character burp fire
- Combos that consist of guessing the proper button order for “punch in the face twice”
- Fatalities with even weirder button motions for the major payoff of maybe a decapitation
But there were a few new and interesting things added to the fighting genre:
- Eating humans chilling in the background for additional health
And that’s it. There’s also the “final boss” that refuses to exist, so you just fight the previous six opponents again in an endurance match. Then the game ends, which is an event that should make anyone happy.
Speaking of endings, the plot of the game is that a meteor crashes on Earth, decimates civilization, awakens dinosaurs (dinosaur gods to be precise), arbitrarily moves the continents about, and irreparably destroys humanity’s ability to spell, as Earth becomes Urth. So a meteor destroys man and brings about dinosaurs? Man, those guys at Atari should get a prize. A “Being so Smart” prize. These dinosaur gods are awake and anxious to beat each other to death, because apparently that worked so well the last time they were animated.
And let’s meet those dino gods!
Armadon is an ankylosaurus, which is the walking armory of the dinosaur kingdom. Roughly every inch of this guy is covered in spikes, which would make him a horrible Mega Man stage. As essentially a walking mace, you’d think this guy would be one of the “evil” dinosaurs, but instead he’s a lover of nature and harmony, so naturally he clubs the tar out of his enemies. Blood is good for trees, I think. Evil trees.
Talon is the velociraptor, and has a special finishing move wherein he opens a door really slowly. It’s not very useful, but it builds tension. He’s the fastest of the group, which syncs up with actual raptor facts, but they’re supposed to be faster because they’re dramatically smaller than the other guys, so I guess Atari only got so far into The Big Book of Dinosaurs: A First Book for Young Children before quitting.
Blizzard is Sub-Zero.
Chaos (not chaos) is a giant ape who coincidentally looks just like Blizzard, except Chaos is red and Blizzard is blue. Really, who needs extra character models when you’re doing alright with just five? Chaos is based on every seven year old you’ve ever met, so he flails, farts, and pukes to victory. And if that isn’t bad enough, he has one fatality where he vomits into his own mouth, and another (which is censored in the SNES version) where acidic pee is involved. Kids love dinosaurs and farting, why didn’t this game do better?
Diablo is our complimentary fire-based tyrannosaurus. As if his name didn’t give it away, he’s supposed to be evil supreme around Urth, and thus hates the good, ice-based Blizzard. Diablo also brings to the forefront why a dinosaur-based fighting game is stupid. Imagine yourself the same size as a T-Rex. Now imagine boxing that T-Rex. You win! T-Rexes are not meant for fighting with their limbs: their arms are nigh useless, their legs are meant for standing, and when their tail isn’t in its normal spot, it’s falling down time. Oh well, at least this one evolved to fire breathing level. Diablo and Bowser should hang out.
Sauron is the good tyrannosaurus, and the orange version of Diablo. He seeks the one ring that will allow him to conquer Middle Urth, and finally… dammit! Wouldn’t it have been cool if the finale of Lord of the Rings was a hobbit fighting a t-rex? Like, Frodo’s all like, “I must use the one ring for good!” and puts it on and becomes this giant robot that shoots lasers out of its eyes and Sauron the tyrannosaurus is all like “You should have stayed in the shire!” and then they fight for a while and finally Sam has the good judgment to press the self destruct button on the ring which blows up the robot and Sauron and Frodo has sacrificed himself and the day is saved. Dude! That would have been bitchin’! Oh, and Gollum is a cyborg from the future or something.
Vertigo is a dilophosaurus, so she has all of the abilities of the dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park, which is basically just spitting acid on Seinfield extras. Vertigo is the only female dinosaur in the group, which doesn’t automatically draw comparisons to another fighting game with fatalities, color swapped fighters, an ice wielding warrior, a fire based warrior who hates the ice warrior, and a 14.2% female ratio of playable characters.
Sonya Vertigo is also supposed to be the goddess of chaos, despite another character being named Chaos. The world is a complicated place.
If this game sounds flat and horrible, then I’m doing my job. There’s a mere seven characters, with five character models among them, which has to be some sort of record for laziness put forth by an established video game company. And the animation of these fighters, especially on the SNES, is insanely limited. If there’s one thing a fighting game needs, its animations that seem to actually correspond to what you’re doing, and these guys… one step and it’s about a half hour before it looks like you can use a move again. Forget about jumping, it all moves at a pace that is indescribably wrong. Somehow the AI knows when to attack, though, so get ready for a long haul if you’re hoping to win. And I bet you never thought seven fights would be a “long haul”.
So Atari, in the same year Squaresoft released Chrono Trigger, gave us all Primal Rage for the Super Nintendo, a game so bad, it will eventually be the death of me. Don’t weep for me, for I know my fate, I chose it, albeit without knowing the full extent of the pain involved, but it was my choice. Just remember, for future generations, that this game is pain, inside and out, and should be avoided like radioactive ass lice.
… Dinosaurs are still cool, though.
FGC #110 Primal Rage
- System: Super Nintendo, but also Sega Genesis, Game Gear, 3DO, PC, Gameboy, Playstation, 32X, Sega Saturn, and not just the Atari Jaguar, but the Atari Jaguar CD. Oh, and arcade.
- Number of players: Can I just say “fighting game” and be done with it? No? Two.
- Merchandising: I guess someone thought this game was going to take off, because, in addition to being released for every system that ever was at the time, they also produced a Primal Rage comic series, action figures, and even a novel. Michael Crichton was not involved.
- And I bet you bought all the action figures: Well… they were cool! And there were a couple of characters that didn’t appear in the game, like this rad skeleton-dinosaur with wings that… oh man, so cool.
- Legacy of Rage: I guess that skeleton-dinosaur, Necrosan, was supposed to appear in Primal Rage 2, but that game never materialized, because there is a God. I guess the plot of Primal Rage 2 is what the novel is based on, too.
- Favorite Fighter: Blizzard has Don King hair. Winner.
- Did you know? Primal Rage was the first fighting game to show a “percent of damage done” indicator after performing a combo. Goes to show that even in the smelliest turd, there still might be a peanut worth saving. That analogy just made be throw up a little.
- Would I play again: I’m more likely to play with the action figures again.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Konami Classics Series Arcade Hits for the Nintendo DS! I believe that’s the compilation that contains arcade Contra, Gradius… and probably at least one other game? Guess we’ll find out. Please look forward to it!