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"Life and Death, the two prime forces of nature, have fought a timeless struggle for dominance over All That Is. The incarnate forces of Life and Death clash constantly, within and without all dimensions, planes and times. Both Life and Death enjoy victories and mourn losses in their struggle, but for the most part the two entities are evenly matched.
Death is not content with this celestial balance and craves power and domination over all things. Throughout time Death has launched his most devious, brutal and destructive plans in pursuit of the elimination of Life and the gaining of Eternal Domination. Death infused a portion of his being into mortal creatures of power and evil who performed his horrible machinations. And, to his eternal chagrin, Death has been soundly defeated by an individual and seemingly inconsequential agent of the Life Force.
Throughout time, these warriors have triumphed over Death's earthly incarnations, weakening Death's cosmic balance and enraging it to unfounded heights of frustration and resolve. From these great losses Death plots a devious new scheme that will exact his revenge on those who defeated it and severely weaken the Life Force at the same time.
Death plucks each hero from the time stream at the moment of victory. He approaches the heroes separately, disguised as Chronos, Master of Time and Messenger for Good. Death lies to each mortal, spinning moral fantasies and catering to individual secret desires. Death convinces each warrior to fight seven messengers of Death throughout the time stream in order to defeat evil and preserve Life. A promise of immortality is offered to each mortal if he or she is successful in this false mission. The TIME KILLERS heroes, still fatigued and disoriented from their previous encounters, believe the Master of Deceit and agree to meet the challenge.
Death has orchestrated events that will pit eternity's greatest warriors and Death's greatest enemies against each other. Whichever TIME KILLERS warrior survives these bloody battles will have to face a fully powered and vengeful Death in his own dark underworld. Will Death be victorious and reclaim a hold on All That Is? Or will one of the TIME KILLERS heroes overcome the power of this prime force and become forever immortal? Only time will tell..."
Time Killers plays much like Mortal Kombat, albeit slightly more complex, with some similarities to the also-popular Street Fighter II. Rather than the standard layout of punches and kicks of various strengths, a specific button is used to attack with the corresponding body part: left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, and the head. A stronger attack can be executed by pressing both limb buttons at the same time. The attack buttons involving respective arms and legs are also the basis of BloodStorm as well as Namco Bandai's Tekken series and the second self-titled Mortal Kombat game.
One of the most notable aspects of the game is how damage is sustained to the characters during battle. If enough damage is done to an arm, that limb will be torn completely off from the character's body, rendering it useless in combat. It is possible for both limbs to be lost, thus forcing the character to fight with only their legs and head. Damage can also be done to the legs, but unlike the arms they cannot be removed. Sometimes, depending on when the blow is landed, an arm can be taken off with one or two hits.
Another notorious aspect of Time Killers is its Instant Kills or 'Death Move', which, if executed and hit successfully, will lop off the opponent's head and immediately end the round. It is simply done by pressing all five buttons at once. Unlike MK's 'Fatalities', which can be done only after the opponent has been defeated in 2 rounds, they can be done any time the player desires. There is also a 'Super Death Move', which can only be done while next to the opponent and by pressing all five buttons while s/he is stunned while holding the joystick in the direction that moves the character toward the opponent. This attack removes both the arms and the head. When the round ends, any lost body parts (including the head) are 'magically' restored in a display of deus ex machina as though nothing had happened.
Each of the characters in the game hails from a different period, bringing his/her own origins and weapons into the battle. The handbook that was made for the game goes into detail that explains the origins and background of each. A few of the characters are based on historical figures and legends.
Rancid - A streetwise punk, framed for murder. He is from New Chicago in 2024 AD and carries a chainsaw. His 'X' shaped scar is from a battle he had with a man who was behind the X murders, which Rancid was being accused of. He managed to kill the man before disappearing. With this in mind, it is possible his backstory was somewhat inspired from Charles Manson, who had carved a swastika into his forehead with a knife. The scar was maybe a reference of Fist of the North Star's character Hyo.
Orion - A space hero of sorts who was supposedly grown in a test tube and loves riding in the vastness of space in the future period of A.D. 2885. He became a fugitive after escaping from police out of fear when he tried to report an alien attack that left no traces of evidence and now journeys to locate the aliens responsible. He fights with an electric sabre.
Thugg - A large, very powerful prehistoric caveman who wields a stone axe, having emerged from beyond "The Edge". He led a fierce and bloody battle against a reptilian alien race known as the Troglodytes, who were harvesting humans as cattle for food and slavery.
Lord Wülf - A heroic knight from the medieval ages. His family was murdered by Count Morbid, who tried to conquer England before he was destroyed by Wülf. He is supposedly based on King Arthur, even hailing from Camelot, England and wields the legendary sword known as Excalibur.
Leif - An adventurous Viking who carries a large battle axe. He was a constant thorn in the side of the mysterious and undead legions of the Black Army, led by Black Thorn, who aspired to take over the world. It is most likely that he is based on Leif Erikson.
Musashi - A samurai who fights with a sword. Musashi is a brilliant strategist and the finest general in Japan who lost his once-undefeated army to a horrifying dragon. Musashi himself was protected by the dragon's scale he wore and traveled for many years to find it and avenge his loss. Supposedly based on Miyamoto Musashi.
Mantazz - A mutant creature, resembling a praying mantis in appearance. She is the queen (as is implied in her background story) of a race of unknown origin from the far-off future of 4002 AD. Having overwhelmed an entire area and spreading quickly, these creatures wanted nothing but to cause death and destruction to humankind; after a fearsome war and the disappearance of their queen, both races managed to coexist peacefully. She fights with her razor claws.
Matrix - A female soldier from the future time of 3297 AD with a bionic arm in place of a limb she lost in a battle, giving her the ability to tap into the commands of cybernetic foes as a result. She uses a sword made of plasma as her weapon. In her period, all of the robots went mysteriously berserk and began to massacre humankind. She managed to defeat the Master Drone, but vanished shortly after her victory.
Death - The final boss of the game and the one responsible for the entire tournament and taking each of the fighters from their periods. Being the grim reaper, he carries a scythe. He cannot be defeated in a 2-out-of-3 match normally, and must be decapitated with a Death Move or a Super Death Move in order to beat the game.
The game was ported to the Mega Drive/Genesis and was scheduled for a release some time after the arcade game's, but was pushed back for a few years due to its violence level and gore. It was eventually published by Black Pearl in 1996 but sold poorly, due to being cited by most video game magazine critics as having incredibly poor graphics, sound and playability.
- Time Killers Handbook