I often debate about whether or not I’ll continue this project into the new year, and with that question comes the fear that one day I will be so devoid of material that I’ll be left to play only those titles that scrape the very bottom of the barrel. It’s my own fault, really. I rarely, if ever, plan out a week and throw in a game that’s absolutely terrible, so I burn through a lot of the good stuff in the process. Luckily (?), I’ve been a bit behind in my scheduling lately, so in a rush to find something to play, I dug out the old MAME.
Of all the Mortal Kombat clones that saturated the arcade market in the mid-90s, Tattoo Assassins is… another one, notable mainly for the fact that it never actually came out, existing only in prototype form. Okay, so maybe that’s not the only notable thing about it. There’s also the fact that it contained thousands of finishing moves in an attempt to capitalize on kids like me that were obsessed with that sort of thing. I even recall EGM running a story on it, printing move lists in preparation for the eventual release, mentioning that it would feature the mythical “nudalities” that Mortal Kombat lacked. I can’t vouch for how I felt at the time, but even by the very low standards of 90s digitized fighters, it feels… desperate to a degree that those other also-rans didn’t.
When you fail to achieve the quiet subtlety of War of the Warrior, that’s a problem.
Thinking more on it, 11 year old Damien was probably really into it. My buddy and I would hand-write movelists for Mortal Kombat 2 and the prospect of being able to fill up even more wide-ruled pages with finishers I’d only ever want to see once was probably the best news I’d heard that week. As we’ve well established at this point, Past-Damien is an idiot and Tattoo Assassins is a bad video game. I wouldn’t say it’s at the bottom of the barrel if only because it would be a terrible insult to barrels.
But as far as a quick distraction on a Tuesday afternoon goes, I suppose I could do worse, spamming uppercuts for a few minutes until it was time to drop [insert comically large item here] on my opponent. I do wonder how things would have gone if it did actually release and even thrived in the marketplace. There’s probably an alternate dimension out there where it became the biggest game in the world and I’ve already written about how Tattoo Assassins 12 failed to capitalize on the narrative potential set-up by its predecessor.
I wouldn’t be completely opposed to visiting that dimension, if only to see who was running for president.