Video games have an ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating on the front of the box, and retail stores do a pretty good job of enforcing them. But back in the 80's and 90's, anyone could easily purchase, rent, or insert a coin to gain access to violent titles.
Let's check out 14 old, bloody, disturbing games that unsupervised children played the hell out of.
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES, 1990)
Tecmo somehow managed to include several crude scenes in Ninja Gaiden II, even though Nintendo censored everything. After Ryu Hayabusa defeats Jaquio, a pool of chunky blood spreads across the floor and into the Dark Sword of Chaos. Also, Irene Lew gets stabbed later in the game. Dripping blood and all.
How much blood fits inside a single demon? Way more than you'd expect.
Fist of the North Star (NES, 1987)
I watched the Fist of the North Star animated movie when I was a kid and was shocked by the graphic violence. Heads explode, people get eaten…it's rough stuff. So, how bad did Nintendo censor the NES version of the classic manga? They didn't.
Kenshiro engages an opponent who LOVES Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
Ken is blessed/cursed with giving hydrocephalus to anyone he touches.
Bad guy goes "boom" in a very shitty way. Hey, it's the NES.
NARC (arcade, 1988)
Williams replaced the message of "don't do drugs" with "kill drug dealers." Walk into the bad parts of the city, find narcs, shoot them in the face, and steal their money. Rinse and repeat. Smart.
A drug lord surrenders to Max Force, a lunatic in a motorcycle helmet.
Too bad Max Force doesn't give a fuck.
Lucky criminals experience a quick death.
The unlucky ones end up slightly crispier.
Lemmings (Amiga, 1991)
Lemmings are adorable, sweater-wearing, bumbling idiots who follow the leader even if it kills them, and that's why I included the title in this list. Guiding these furry creatures from point A to point B can get messy.
Who knew lemmings were made of confetti?
Primal Rage (arcade, 1994)
Prehistoric, giant reptiles and apes duke it out to determine who will rule "Urth." If you're low on health, you can eat one of your human fans. It's sort of like Rampage without the concrete buildings.
Sauron feasts on the flesh of his adoring fans. What an honor.
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (arcade, 1993)
I mentioned Cadillacs and Dinosaurs in my animal cruelty article, but homo sapiens take quite a beating as well. I call that equal opportunity.
Millions of years ago, eye surgeries were performed with hand grenades.
Smash TV (arcade, 1990)
I dream of a real-life game show similar to Smash TV and the movie The Running Man. Bob Barker would host it. Overly excited, elderly ladies would battle each other to the death for wonderful prizes. Spoiler: Bob Barker is the devil and a robot.
It's tough to understand this image. The green and red pieces of shit used to be people.
Warning: Do not step on land mines.
The Punisher (arcade, 1993)
Frank Castle punishes bad guys. That's kind of his thing. When paired up with Nick Fury, you get a double whammy of mental breakdowns and psychosis.
A thug trades valuable information for his life.
Sadly, "mercy" is not in the Punisher's vocabulary. The bus driver approves.
An alternate title for this comic book/game is The Brain Tickler.
Frank never forgets to tip his cab driver.
Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (arcade, 1994)
As cartoony as DarkStalkers' visual presentation is, characters get sliced in half and burned alive as often as any kombatant in the Mortal Kombat series. It just looks cuter.
Sasquatch gets an "owie."
At least Felicia ate before she died.
Mutant League Football (Genesis, 1993)
American football is a brutal contact sport. Add beefy trolls, warrior skeletons, and demonic referees and you get a televised bloodbath. I'd watch it every day.
I'm no expert, but I'd say this is a foul.
Prince of Persia (PC, 1989)
Saving a kidnapped princess will surely get you laid…that is if you don't get killed by countless booby traps in a castle built by a madman.
Maybe next time the prince will go adventuring wearing more protective gear. Pajamas don't cut it anymore.
Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad (Neo Geo, 1998)
War is hell, even if your playable soldiers look like super-deformed adult babies. The death animations are way too detailed, bloody, and distracting for such a colorful and pretty game. Well, it worked for Metal Slug.
Angel, the woman with "ceramic arms" and big guns, tells guys to talk to the hand.
Total Carnage (arcade, 1991)
Total Carnage is basically a sexier version of Smash TV with even more violence. Yes, Williams actually topped themselves. Boss battles are especially gross.
Even the flamethrower makes enemies explode.
Have you learned nothing from playing Smash TV? Do NOT step on land mines!
Meet Orcus, the first level boss. He's pretty cheerful even after losing an arm.
His smile is gone as well as his other arm and right eye (eyes?).
Dammit, Orcus. Die already.
Finally, after a gazillion bullets, Orcus is finished. What an asshole.
BloodStorm (arcade, 1994)
Strata's pathetic attempt to cash-in on the success of Mortal Kombat ended up looking like a cross between Time Killers and spaghetti vomit. It does have barbarous acts of violence, so at least it will be remembered for being one of the cruelest games in history.
Mirage lost both her legs but she's still fighting.
Tempest may have gotten both arms amputated, but her boobs still jiggle.
Involuntary colonoscopy in 3…2…1….
Oh, good. Her asshole lives to fight another day.
Want more pixelated slaughter? Click here.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!