Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is a beat-em-up developed by Midway LA (formerly Paradox Development) and published in 2005 by Midway for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. In april 2012 a beta version of Shaolink Monk was shared online in the Assembler Games Forum, and Stranno noticed a few differences with the final version: textures, effects (water, lights) and some background changed like “the pit” level. In the E3 beta demo the moon is really shiny, in the final you can actually see the moon and there’s an UFO (?) flying around. The final enemy in the demo is Baraka (you cannot finish it), in retail there is one ogre-boss-like generic enemy, this Baraka fight comes in the next level, the monks academy. Options menu was reworked and there’s no aspect switch.
Mortal Kombat: Fire & Ice is the cancelled sequel to Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, that was in development from late 2005 till early 2006 by Paradox (later renamed Midway Studios Los Angeles). A prototype was created for the Xbox 360, to test their new “next generation” graphic engine, but soon the project had to be canned, as revealed by Ed Boon to Game Informer:
“When they finished [Shaolin Monks], the guys at Paradox were gonna do another one called Fire & Ice. It was gonna be a co-operative Scorpion and Sub-Zero game,” Boon said. “They actually started the early stages of that game, but they couldn’t do it in time and under budget, so the project was canceled and kind of went away.”
Also, in august 2009 The Realm of Mortal Kombat fansite was able to get in contact with a former Paradox developer, that shared some more info and a level design concept for Shaolin Monks 2:
It was canceled within a few weeks of my arriving at Midway. I don’t have anything else to show you unfortunately. Half the studio was laid off, and new management was brought in. Then we started work on TNA Wrestling.
A prototype level was built, but that was it. A few design docs were worked on, and a few characters were made in 3D – Scorpion and Subzero. The game was codenamed Fire & Ice – as those two characters were to be the main characters. I was really looking forward to doing level design and construction for it. It was a shame it was canceled.
In 2008 Midway Studios Los Angeles was relocated and merged with Midway’s San Diego office and their last game was TNA iMPACT!
Thrill Kill is a cancelled 1998 fighting game for the Sony PlayStation, which even today is still widely available despite being officially unpublished. Thrill Kill was considered a technical feat for the PlayStation for allowing four players to fight simultaneously in the same room, although this technical feat was overshadowed by the brutality and controversy surrounding the game.
Set in an urban version of Hell, the characters were all damned souls fighting for another chance in the mortal world, watched over by Marukka the Goddess of Secrets, who has organized the infernal tournament and promised the winner reincarnation on Earth. Other content included revealing BDSM and fetishistic costumes, characters with amputated limbs and other handicaps and violent and sexual moves with names such as “Bitch Slap”, “Swallow This”, and “Head Muncher”.
Thrill Kill was developed in the late 1990s for the Sony PlayStation by Paradox Development, now Midway Studios – Los Angeles. There was much hype surrounding the game, billed as the new Mortal Kombat, and expectations were high in the gaming community. The original publisher was to be Virgin Interactive, before Virgin Interactive was acquired by Electronic Arts Pacific for £122,500,000 in the late summer of 1998.
By this point Thrill Kill had already finished development in entirety, and a Californian-based industrial metal band, Contagion, had even recorded numerous songs and an entire score for the game. A few weeks before shipping, the game was cancelled by EA because they didn’t want to “publish such a senselessly violent game”, as they felt that it would harm their image. They also stated that they deemed the game so offensive that they would not even attempt to sell the game to be released by another publisher either.
Later, former employees that had worked on the game released the full game onto the internet, along with various beta versions, and bootlegs of the game flooded the market and were still seen by a large share of its original intended audience nevertheless. All files are still widely available through filesharing, and playable through emulators.
Gameplay consisted of a closed 3D room where up to four opponents would fight to the death, and proceed to finish each other off with Thrill Kills, much like the fatalities of Mortal Kombat. However the characters, because they are already dead, cannot be physically injured, although they audibly feel the pain of attacks, and blood is still present.
Every attack made will result in a character’s bloodlust to rise. Instead of the usual life bar, characters build up a “kill meter”. Once this meter was full, and therefore bloodlust at its strongest, a player’s character would be electrocuted to give them superhuman strength enabling a Thrill Kill move to brutally slay an opponent, depending on what button was pressed upon grabbing someone.
[spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Thrill Kill doveva essere il gioco che avrebbe spodestato Mortal Kombat, dal trono del “Picchiaduro più violento”. Il gioco, seguendo il classico schema dei beat ‘m’ up, prevedeva undici personaggi, pugni, calci, prese, combo e soprattutto tanto sangue. Il divertimento era garantito dalla modalità storia e da quella multiplayer, in cui ben 4 avversari potevano sfidarsi in un tutti contro tutti o in un deatmatch a squadre.
Accanto a questi elementi tradizionali, Thrill Kill prometteva un interessante innovazione: L’Elimination Kill, una funzione che permetteva, dopo aver riempito una barra di energia, di scegliere un’avversario tra quelli presenti e di ucciderlo nella maniera più atroce possibile, mentre gli altri guardavano la scena. Per riempire la barra bisognava attaccare e attaccare, quindi Thrill Kill premiava il combattimento continuo, e non concedeva attimi di pausa.
Questo promettente gioco tuttavia non fu pubblicato da Electronic Arts, che riteneva il gioco non appropriato per il mercato e non voleva venderlo ad altri editori. Nonostante le ripetute proteste dei giocatori, il titolo fu cancellato. Il motore grafico del gioco, fu però riutilizzato per creare un altro titolo Playstation, dalle caratteristiche simili, anche se meno violento: Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style.
Aaron Celta, uno dei programmatori del gioco, ha affermato in una intervista, che in origine TK era stato ideato come un titolo di basket a squadre, con la possibilità di creare intense risse fra i giocatori. Proprio per la sua spiccata violenza, decisero di convertirlo del tutto in un picchiaduro, eliminando le caratteristiche sportive.
Pur non essendo mai stato commercializzato, Thrill Kill è riuscito ad essere diffuso in versione pirata, attraverso i canali P2P di internet. E’ infatti possibile trovare online, la versione praticamente completa del gioco, e provare con mano i motivi della sua cancellazione.[/spoiler]