A Letter From BloodStorm

It’s time to confess something: I liked BloodStorm.

Yes, that BloodStorm. Strata’s 1994 arcade fighter that tried to outdo Mortal Kombat in the worst way. Staged in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, BloodStorm allows all of its hideously stereotyped characters to decapitate, dismember, and disembowel each other during combat. It remains the rare game where a halved warrior will scoot across the floor upon a pile of entrails, undeterred by the absence of legs or arms. You can still win a match like that. It's awful and hilarious.

I liked BloodStorm a lot. Part of it was indeed the relentless carnage, the willingness to get as gruesome and vicious as mid-1990s arcades would allow. Yet I also latched on to the game’s legitimate innovations. It had a remarkable amount of things to discover: hidden levels, secret characters, warps, and a series of “taunts” that showed up on-screen when you mashed buttons after a victory. BloodStorm also let players gain a new ability from each defeated opponent, and these powers could be stored in the arcade unit with a password system. Too bad BloodStorm wasn’t in arcades for all that long.

BloodStorm didn’t really stick around, and I was outraged at this. It led me to do something I’d never done before: I wrote a fan letter to a game company. In the years that followed, I would write several more (usually regarding some RPG that would never be released in the U.S.), but my BloodStorm gushery came first. And I got a better response than I ever expected.