Slaughter Sport might seem kind of obscure to many of you now, but back when it was released, there was a fair amount of buzz surrounding it. It was a fighting game that put a bigger emphasis on graphic violence than on quality gameplay. Advertisements for the game boldly featured warning labels about the sheer amount of carnage that took place, and emphasized that this game was for mature players only. From a historical standpoint, this is significant because the game predated Mortal Kombat, Night Trap and several other controversial games. From a “game sucking” standpoint, it’s also significant because – oops! – They forgot to put in most of the horrific violence they were promising.
It turns out that for all of its warnings and disclaimers, Slaughter Sport is actually pretty tame. There’s no foul language, barely anything sexually suggestive in the game, and the bloodshed is rather sparse. Instead of killing your opponent directly, you knock them out to win. Then a shark swims through the floor (?), and eats them. There are a few gross parts – one character’s special move is to fart on you, and the main boss is a insanely fat shirtless guy with a mouth in his stomach, but that’s about as bad as it gets. Overall, Slaughter Sport features only slightly more mature content than a typical episode of Antique Roadshow. How hard is it to put blood in a video game?Apparently “scribbling with a red crayon” was beyond the art team’s abilities.
Yet another match ends by Land-Shark-ality
Now if including graphic violence was a bigger priority to the developers than making the game fun, and they failed miserably in that regard, you can probably imagine how the rest of the game turned out. Each match consists of trying to figure out which one of your moves the AI is too stupid to avoid, and then doing that move over and over until you win. Collision detection is sloppy, you can’t block, and whether pressing back on the controller causes you to move backwards or slowly turn around apparently changes at random.You can only choose one character in the one-player mode, a kind of generic kung-fu guy whose special move appears to be “get killed”. There’s really no point in discussing the two player mode since there will never be two people willing to play Slaughter Sport in the same place at the same time. It’s a statistical impossibility. You earn money after every fight, which can be used to purchase powerful magic spells, like the “No jump” spell that seems to have no effect on whether or not your opponent can jump, or the “No attack” spell, which keeps your opponent from attacking you for about 2 seconds.
This game does indeed lick ass.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game is that your character doesn’t turn around automatically when someone gets behind him. As a result, it’s quite likely that at some point in the match, your opponent will jump over you and start kicking your ass both literally and figuratively at the same time. There are probably several reasons why Street Fighter II was an instant hit and Slaughter Sport remains obscure, but I’m guessing at least a few of them have to do with the fact that Chun-Li never spent an entire match walking on top of me and trying to punch me in the back of the head while I flailed around helplessly.
The only excuse I can come up with for Slaughter Sport being so bad and so devoid of violence is that it was actually some kind of trick being played on gamers by anti-violence crusaders. People bought the game expecting carnage and gore, and instead ended up with one of the worst games ever made. By using promises of extreme violence as a selling point, they were hoping to create a mental association between excessive gore and horrible gameplay. This plot of course backfired – instead of Slaughter Sport creating an association between graphic violence and terrible gaming; it instead simply lowered people’s expectations to the point where mediocre games like Mortal Kombat or Killer Instinct could become runaway successes.