6 Unexpectedly Bloody Games


When it comes to videogames, you can usually judge a game by its cover and understand that serious gun-toting dudes will bring the blood. Once in a while, however, we’ll find that the greatest gore comes in some of the strangest packages.

With Halloween right around the corner, Laser Time is feeling the season as we’ll have lists, streams, podcasts, and commentaries covering some of the best horror-themed videogames, shows, and movies ever made. Sometimes, though, the nastiest violence takes you by surprise as the most unassuming games will get gory without any prior warning. As a kid of the 80s or 90s, these games were the diamonds in the rough that you could sneak into your collection while your parents clucked their tongues at the Mortal Kombats and Grand Theft Autos of the world. Some snuck by in a pre-ESRB world while others required an explanation at the Electronics Boutique counter, but all of these games brought the blood in some unexpected ways.


When it comes to games that are considerably more violent on the Sega Genesis compared to the SNES, there’s more than just the original Mortal Kombat. With its pre-teen stars goofy weapons (like a water pistol and six-pack of soda), and 1950’s pulp horror feel, Zombies Ate My Neighbors sounded like a lighthearted action game that subverted the usual violent shooter. On the Super Nintendo, it delivered on that promise, but the uncensored Sega Genesis version made things a few shades darker. Darker RED!

For starters, the game over screen painted a gorier end for these ghoul-hunting kids as the end of your game was punctuated with a screen covered in blood (SNES kids had purple so they could pretend they were oozed at Nickelodeon Studios). There was also a character who carried around severed heads in the Genesis version who was changed into a puppeteer on the Super Nintendo. While these might not sound like super-gory scenes, it was pretty substantial for Nintendo-loving gamers who assumed ZAMN was always squeaky-clean.


True Lies was far from G-rated in theaters, but we didn’t expect the videogame to exceed it in some regards. While we were denied the 16-bit equivalent of Jamie Lee Curtis’ striptease, LJN made the game adaptation far more violent. How so? Civilian kills.

While there’s already enough violence traversing the stages and taking down terrorists, you can even kill the innocent workers trapped in the middle of a firefight. You can even murder two bystanders before receiving any punishment from digital Tom Arnold, who will make Arnold Schwarzenegger restart the stage.


The ESRB is far from perfect; just about every Halo game has been tagged with a Mature rating despite the complete lack of (human) blood and relatively sanitary alien deaths, while the Naughty Bear series gets a Teen rating because the brutal murders only have fluff spilled on the ground. One of their earlier mis-ratings came in the form of Doom Troopers, a Contra-esque shooter that got a teen rating despite every enemy turning into a Puddle of Bludd and having their head asplode thanks to some hot lead injections from the eponymous cops.

It’s a mystery how this game didn’t score an M, but a few guesses could be the cartoony nature of the visuals, the franchise’s past as a harmless card game, or perhaps some ESRB dingus never got around to actually shooting anything in this run-and-gun game. Regardless of the reason, plenty of kids got to enjoy some extra-violent gunplay a few years before gaming watchdogs would appreciate back in the mid-90s.

What’s to come on the next page? How about an anti-drug gore-fest and a JRPG with blood geysers?!

9 thoughts on “6 Unexpectedly Bloody Games

  1. Halo’s got tons of human blood. It’s just that you’re not going to see it unless you punch the hell out of Marines (and if you do, then you’d be measuring blood bank donations per punch rather than per liter).

    This effect became less pronounced in the sequels, until it was barely anything in Halo 4. Of course, Halo 4’s not M-rated because of blood and gore. No, it’s rated M because of a single cutscene in which an old woman’s flesh peels away from her body, then the muscle, followed by a brief moment of her exposed skeleton before it crumbles to ash. Why 343i decided to include that scene, I’ll never know, but Halo 4 was definitely on the road to a T-rating before that.

    Seriously though, that scene was hardcore.


  2. Seeing the True Lies entry once again has me wondering: Where is Chris’ Top 5 Games as Determined by the 1995 Box Office? Sure, the 1994 list was high concept, but it was such a fun idea! I want to see that magic again.

  3. I know it probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was totally taken aback when I played the first Fallout game. Up to that point I don’t think I had played anything that showed a shotgun blasting a medicine ball-sized hole out of a character. Something about the way they showed gore in those little sprites gave the game a hyperviolent grindhouse feel. Needless to say I’ve played every installment since then.

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