A World of Games: Tattoo Assassins

There are so many Mortal Kombat clones out there it’s fair to assume some games have slipped through the cracks. Games like Primal Rage and Kasumi Ninja came out and were quickly forgotten. But then there’s Tattoo Assassins, a game that borrowed the core elements of MK but never saw an official release.

And yet here is a full-on dedicated Tattoo Assassins cabinet at Galloping Ghost. Seriously, this arcade has everything!

Developed by Data East in direct response to the Mortal Kombat craze, Tattoo Assassins was famous for one major thing: OVER 2,000 FATALITIES!! No joke, the game claimed to have over 2,000 fatalities for its fighters. They achieved this by having each fighter have somewhat unique finishers based on which opponent they were fighting. More “traditional” fatalities were also included in the game, and apparently all combined it made up that insane number.

For reasons I’m note entirely sure, Tattoo Assassins never actually released. The game did not have an arcade release, and the cabinet seen here is one of the only known prototype cabinets to exist (That, or this is a really authentic looking reproduction). There were also no home console ports either. But since the game was essentially completed, ROMs of the game are available online, and some prototype arcade boards are out there as well. Seeing the game in the flesh is kind of incredible, as it’s one of the arcade fighting world’s most unique and rare games!

How did the game handle? … eeehhhhhh… it was alright. The game felt a bit floaty, and just didn’t feel as polished as the Mortal Kombat games it strived to be. Knowing absolutely nothing about the game, though, I wasn’t skilled at it. I’m sure in the hands of a “Pro” the game would look better and maybe even some fatalities could be seen. Still though, this is a piece of arcade history and it’s such a cool find!

*Played at Galloping Ghost arcade in Brookfield, IL 2019

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