The flyer for Primal Rage.

Primal Rage (or simply can be known as just Rage) is a versus fighting game developed by Atari Games and published by Time Warner Interactive in 1994 as an arcade game. Toys, comics, and other merchandise tie-ins were also produced.

Storyline[edit | edit source]

In Primal Rage, a meteor strike has devastated the Earth; technology has ceased to exist, civilization has been utterly reduced to rubble, and humans have regressed into tribes of Stone Age dwellers. Into this new radiation-scarred world, primitively referred to as "Urth", primordial rain forests have covered the land and numerous new species have evolved.

Out of their ranks, seven creatures emerge who wage war for control over the new world; they are torn between those who wish to keep peace on Urth, and those who attempt to plunge the world into further chaos for their own benefit. These creatures have otherworldly or supernatural abilities and each is said to represent a different aspect of nature, as in life and death, fire and ice; and they are considered to be a "god" of their respective sphere. There are four of the good Virtuous Gods and three evil Destructive Gods.

Categorizing the characters in this way was, in fact, a mistake that occurred during the development of the Primal Rage trading cards that were distributed along with the toyline. The character Sauron, God of Hunger, is marked as a "Virtuous Beast" despite the fact that his in-game ending (in which a bloody image of him devouring scores of humans is displayed) obviously depicts him as evil. Sauron was in fact meant to be neutral.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Primal Rage is a traditional two-dimensional fighting game in which two players select characters to battle each other in one-on-one combat, or a single player finishes a campaign of fights against the CPU over increasing difficulty. The final battle of the single player game consisted of fighting all the other CPU monsters with an increased power bar made available in a mini-game prior to the fight. A total of seven characters are available for players to select from (as listed below). Each character has his or her own specialized set of attack moves and abilities. In the game, the object is to deplete the opposing character's health meter as fast as possible. If "Game Gore" (an option on some consoles) is switched on, then a defeated character's heart will explode into a bloody mess and their brain will dissolve to ashes.

While fighting, human tribesmen will wander nearby and worship their gods during battle. This allows for the creatures to toss them around or devour some to regain strength (eating opponents' worshippers will add a bonus to one's score, while eating one's own will penalize the player). Prior to the final battle, a mini game commences in which one is required to eat as many worshippers as possible to increase health for the endurance round. An easter egg of human volleyball could be triggered by keeping worshippers off the ground batting them back and forth between characters. This is only feasibly possible when both characters are human-controlled, as the CPU is not programmed to interact in this fashion.

Unlike most fighting games, where special moves are performed by moving the joystick, followed by pressing one or more buttons, Primal Rage features a system where the player holds down certain buttons, then performs the joystick movements.

Later revisions of the arcade game added the ability to perform "special moves" the more traditional way, with motion followed by button presses, but kept the original method as well. After the opponent is defeated, a brief moment is allowed for the player to perform a fatality that finishes the adversary in a more dramatic fashion; these were performed in a similar manner to the special moves. Although all characters feature three finishing moves, some of them were more Easter Eggs than fatalities, such as Vertigo's "La Vache Qui Rit" (french for "the laughing cow"), a fatality in which Vertigo transforms her opponent into a cow, which moos and runs away. Using a Fatality on an opponent means that they will appear flashing in the final battle. It also means the player will be able to do extra damage to them as well during the Final Battle.

Characters[edit | edit source]

The Virtuous Beasts[edit | edit source]

  • Armadon: The god of Life. Armadon fights to defend Urth and prevent its destruction from the hands of the Evil Gods. He's a semi-bipedal dinosaur with horridus Triceratops-like head and limbs, a series of spikes in his back, and a tail, the tip of which resembles a combination of an magniventris Ankylosaurus' tail club and a stenops Stegosaurus' thagomizer. Armadon has the easiest combos, but has a short reach. His domain is the Hollows and his worshippers appear dressed in light green rags.
  • Blizzard: The god of Good and Virtue. Blizzard is one of two ape-beasts (the other one is Chaos), and the main protagonist of the game. He was frozen in a glacier for millennia and was released by the meteor. He lived high up in the mountains, only descending when threatened. A noble and heroic yeti-like creature, Blizzard wishes to undo the damage caused to Urth by both the meteor and the warring gods. Many of his abilities focus around the manipulation of ice and cold. Blizzard is listed as the leader of the Virtuous Beasts, and his animal power, age-old wisdom and freezing projectile moves make him a powerful character. His domain is the Cliff, and his worshippers wear blue.
  • Sauron: The god of Hunger. He is the one of the main protagonists. Resembling a lancensis Nanotyrannus, he can dish out the most damage of all the beasts, but he's also the slowest. Sauron's immortality only lasts while he devours human flesh, as he suffers from an insatiable appetite. In spite of this, he is not evil, but the anti-hero of the group. His "Stun Roar" is an energy beam utilized in a manner akin to Godzilla's nuclear breath, and his "Primal Scream" casts an energy shield as an offensive attack. His tail attacks are somewhat easier to use than his bites. His domain is the Cove, and his worshippers are clad in purple clothing. He is one of 2 members in the main cast who is a T-Rex, the other one being Diablo.
  • Talon: The god of Survival. He resembles a Carakiller. Talon is the patriarch of a huge family of similar dinosaurs and is fiercely protective of it, and it is for their sake that he plunges into the war. Talon is the fastest character in the game and an excellent jumper. Talon is also the shortest character, and numerous ranged attacks by taller enemies will simply miss him. He is the only character in the game who does not have a projectile attack. His domain is the Strip, and his worshipers are dressed in grey.

The Destructive Beasts[edit | edit source]

  • Chaos: The god of Decay. The second of the two ape-beasts (the other one being Blizzard), Chaos was formerly a scientist and witch doctor that was transformed into his current state by accident and was forcibly imprisoned in his own filth for eons. Among the three Evil Gods, Chaos is known as the crudest and nastiest of all, with moves like "Fart of Fury" and "Power Puke". His "Golden Shower" fatality (where Chaos dissolves the flesh from his victim with a jet of acidic urine) was deemed so disgusting that the game was pulled from the market and replaced with a version with this fatality censored. His domain is the Ruins and his worshippers appear dressed in yellow.
  • Diablo: The god of Evil and Destruction. Diablo resembles a rex (T-rex) Tyrannosaurus and the main antagonist of the game. The leader of the Destructive Beasts, this demonic dinosaur wishes to reduce Urth into a nightmarish, magma-filled hell, where he will indulge his desire to torment all living beings on the planet for all eternity. His graphic model is nearly identical to Sauron's, though he is rendered smaller and with a different color scheme. Diablo is quick on his feet and is an excellent distance fighter, but is somewhat weak in close range. His domain is the Inferno and his worshippers wear red clothes. He is one of 2 members of the main cast who is a T-Rex, the other one being Sauron.
  • Vertigo: The goddess of Insanity. Vertigo is a unique beast, resembling a bai cobra with wucaii dinosaur legs and short, spindly arms. She is one of the evil Destructive Beasts and is the only female beast on the roster. She has the longest reach. The game's plot states that her imprisonment on the Moon forced the other beasts into suspended animation until the meteor impact. Vertigo plans to enslave the entire planet forever by making humans into a slave race. Her domain is the Tomb, which resembles Stonehenge, and her worshippers dress in cyan. She is the only female member of the main 7 cast.

Homage[edit | edit source]

The Primal Rage homage in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory.

As originally printed in an issue of GamePro in 1995, there is evidence to suggest that each character is a tongue-in-cheek reference to a fighter from the original Mortal Kombat. The individual traits, personality, and special moves of each character resemble those of a counterpart in the Mortal Kombat lineup. Armadon's power of electricity is like Raiden. Blizzard has freezing attacks that disable the opponent like Sub-Zero. Diablo has a fatality where he breathes fire on the opponent which burns their skin, leaving a skeleton like Scorpion. Talon's aerial kick resembles Liu Kang's flying kick. Sauron has moves which produce shadows, similar to Johnny Cage. Vertigo fits the lone female character producing ring-shaped projectiles similar in nature to Sonya. Finally, the barbaric nature and cannonball move of Chaos is comparable to Kano.[citation needed]

Also, the concept of two fighters sharing near identical appearances (in this case, Sauron and Diablo, or Chaos and Blizzard) resembles that of Scorpion and Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat. A similar technique was applied to Ken and Ryu of Street Fighter II.

This game was tributed in the "Game Over" episode of Dexter's Laboratory, in which Dee Dee and Dexter play a Primal Rage parody, "Primal Fighter". Dexter's character of choice was a Sauron lookalike, while Dee Dee favored the Blizzard lookalike.

Controversy[edit | edit source]

As with other bloody U.S. based fighting titles of the time (most notably Mortal Kombat), Primal Rage sparked considerable controversy due to its violence level, depicting gory fatalities and the live devouring of humans. Though it was a bloody game, Primal Rage was rated "T" for Teen, yet that did not stop its critics from lumping it together with the Mature-rated Mortal Kombat. To appease the critics, the game was withdrawn, re-programmed and re-released several times. Later arcade incarnations of Primal Rage included a "Gore/No Gore" toggle switch which, when flipped to the "No Gore" setting, disabled the use of Fatalities, the eating of humans, and all of the game's blood.

Home console ports of Primal Rage retained all the of the game's original content however, which was more than enough to continue the controversy surrounding the game. According to Victar's Primal Rage FAQ (section 7.4) the June 1996 issue of GamePro confirms that Ellie Rovella of Gilbert, Arizona became enraged when her 11-year-old son bought and played Genesis' Primal Rage, using GamePro's strategy guide to execute Chaos' golden shower/urination fatality. Rovella was so outraged she not only returned the game, but also launched a grass-roots campaign. Ironically the Super Nintendo version, in which the particular fatality was removed entirely, displaying a "No Cheeze!" symbol (a sign that was generally used to notify the player that he or she had performed an illegal combo) at the top of the screen if it was attempted, was also pulled from the shelves.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

By 1995, Atari had begun production of a sequel of the game, simply titled Primal Rage II. The game, however, was never released, due to low sales expectations and other production problems. In the storyline, the original characters had been trapped and were unable to fight against one another directly, so they each selected a representative from their human worshippers to fight on their behalf. These representatives were given the ability to morph into their god's image. New gods were also set to make an appearance, such as Slashfang, a prehistoric fighter taking the form of a Smilodon, and Necrosan, a living dragon skeleton, who was previously axed from the first game. Although they never got featured in a finished game, these two creatures did get released as toys.

The storyline in Primal Rage II follows closely on the events chronicled in the first game, as it is revealed that the meteorite that once struck Urth is, in fact, an egg holding the dragonbeast Necrosan, a terrible monster bent on destroying Urth. To protect their world, the gods unite against Necrosan, but are defeated in the ensuing battle and subsequently imprisoned in a state of semi-suspended animation. The gods then form human avatars for themselves and fight the minions of Necrosan to release them from their prison and battle Necrosan.

When Primal Rage II was cancelled, Atari allegedly felt it necessary to somehow present the story for the sequel in one form or another. Thus, in 1997, a novel called Primal Rage: The Avatars was released, written by John Vornholt.

An early alpha build of Primal Rage II has been floating around the internet for years. However, it has never been properly emulated so the game crashes upon selecting a character. The 558 Mega Byte CHD image that goes with it is also hard to find and only available in a few places adding further to this problem. In March 2017, an individual on the internet made a modded version of MAME, dubbed "MAME4RAGE2", to have the game emulated without any issues.[1]

Ports[edit | edit source]

Primal Rage was ported to numerous platforms: PlayStation, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, Sega 32X, Atari Jaguar CD, Sega Saturn, Amiga, Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo, Sega Game Gear, Game Boy and PC CD-ROM. The arcade version of Primal Rage is also included in Midway Arcade Treasures 2 for PS2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube. A pirated port has been released for the Master System and only has 3 playable characters Chaos, Blizzard, and Sauron.

PlayStation[edit | edit source]

The port for PlayStation features slightly scaled down graphics, some color loss, and animation frames that sometimes fail to play during animations getting the characters stuck in a single pose for an attack when more frames should be shown. The audio is also a little odd. Blizzard's death and win cries are switched, Chaos' death cry doesn't play but is in the sound test, the final battle themes are in the sound test but don't play during the actual final battle, and The Attract intro from the arcade version has music cut off early. Several jingles, such as the Fatality Jingle, and death jingles are not played either but are apparently in the ROM but not listed in the sound test. The Final Battle victory theme will play on the PS3 as it uses emulation to play PS1 games. This is the only way to hear this music track. These issues are due to the PlayStation frequently reading data from the disc. This is one of the few ports that shows the combo names when they are executed. It also has an opening FMV sequence.

3DO[edit | edit source]

The 3DO port was published by LG Electronics. This port features smaller sprites than other ports but not as small as the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, SNES, Game Gear, Amiga, Gameboy, and Atari Jaguar port sprites. The music synths are a little different as well. It also has the opening FMV from the PlayStation port, plus additional FMV videos showcasing the beasts the player chooses during single player.

Atari Jaguar CD[edit | edit source]

This port has severely scaled down sprites but they look much cleaner than those of other ports with sprites scaled down to this size.

Sega Saturn[edit | edit source]

The Sega Saturn port is similar to the Playstation port but has numerous jingles that went unused in the Playstation port present, FMV sequence intros and endings for each character in addition to the opening FMV, same with with 3DO port, and fewer instances of the game having to read data from the disc. Strangely, combo names are absent. The FMVs can be turned off in the options. When off, the arcade attract intro will play on the main menu and the intro FMVs will be turned off. The Ending FMV's will be replaced by the standard arcade version endings.

Amiga[edit | edit source]

The Amiga port has watered down sounds and graphics but large stages allowing more room. The port suffers from long load times and requires a disk swap with every round (unless the game is installed into the HDD).

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive[edit | edit source]

This version was based on version 1.7, thus the new additional fatality, special moves, sounds, and new animations were removed. It has more animation than the SNES version, but less vibrant color. There is also an exclusive Easter Egg on the Cheat menu that says "Okay, right?" When this is selected, if the player chooses Diablo, his followers will be replaced with a Devil that uses the head of Probe Entertainment's former CEO and founder, Fergus McGovern. Regardless if Diablo wins or loses, Fergus will jump up and down in celebration. Fergus will change palletes to match whatever Diablo's pallete is. Diablo's Fireball Fatality is different in this version featuring three Fireballs that fly around the opponent rather than one huge fireball.

Sega Genesis 32X[edit | edit source]

Based on the Genesis/Mega Drive port, the sprites are larger and colorful. It has music that makes use of the 32X's additional sound channels for better music and cleaner voice clips. The "Okay, right?" cheat is not present in the cheat menu for some strange reason. Diablo's Fireball fatality is also the same as the Genesis version.

Sega CD 32X[edit | edit source]

A Sega CD 32 port of Primal Rage was slated for a November 1995 launch, but it was never released.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System[edit | edit source]

This port censors Chaos' golden shower fatality. This version also doesn't shrink the evil palette swaps (i.e. Sauron - Diablo) and lacks the ending picture. The combos are easier, but the gameplay is slower. This port features a few additions, such as Vertigo's fatalities each have different colored rings. Diablo's Fireball fatality is different here as well but he sends a slow moving fireball across the ground that cooks the opponent upon contact.

Game Boy[edit | edit source]

This port removed Vertigo and the humans. Every character has 2 attacks, 4 specials, and 1 fatality. Chaos' fatality has been added back, but replaced the pee with vomit. Talon's music track is missing oddly.

Game Gear[edit | edit source]

The same as the Game Boy version, but with color, blood, and Chaos' golden shower is the same as the arcade.

M.A.M.E / Midway Arcade Treasures[edit | edit source]

See rom encryption below

Master System[edit | edit source]

The latest Primal Rage port. It only has 3 characters: Sauron, Blizzard, and Chaos.

PC / MS-DOS / IBM PC[edit | edit source]

These ports feature different sound effects, larger sprites and all the frames of animation from the arcade version. The game CD included three different editions of the game, one for systems with 4 MB RAM, another for 8 MB and one for 16 MB, each with increasing fidelity to the arcade game. The music is made up of MIDIS and features two tracks not in any other version of the game that replace Sauron and Chaos' normal themes.

There is a glitch in the PlayStation and Atari Jaguar CD versions. After choosing Sauron or Armadon, the game will go to the VS. screen, the load time will be longer than usual, and sometimes the two will have all of the additional frames that were cut due to console limitations, meaning smoother animation.[citation needed] If the game moves on to the next round, the animations will return to the edited versions. The PlayStation's character select uses the full animations.

ROM encryption[edit | edit source]

The Primal Rage design team implemented an unusual and largely unknown security method into the arcade machine's coding that prevented the full features of the game from becoming active. As a result, the game has never been accurately emulated on any platform to this day.

Blood would be "censored" in that it would be colored a yellowish color with a brown shading. Also, fatalities could not be performed and many special moves were not available, most notably characters with "Pouncing" moves couldn't land on the victim (Sauron's leaping bone bash, Diablo's pulverizer, Chaos' flying buttocks slam). Another emulation problem was you could no longer chain attacks which greatly decreased the chance of performing a combo. In the original arcade version, it was possible to repeat attacks such as Diablo's low 1 and standing 3+4.

This affects the version of the game on Midway Arcade Treasures 2 and Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition, which was expected to feature an arcade perfect rendition of the game, but provided a censored and incomplete version instead. The original programming team has since moved on to other things. Some of the programmers have actually departed the electronic entertainment business altogether and could not be located for questioning regarding the game's security lock outs. Others who have been contacted expressed no interest in unlocking the ROM BIOS for freeware distribution or security corrections. Thus, no ROM exists for Primal Rage that is not censored in some way.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.