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A history of videogame chainsaw killings

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The chainsaw is a noble tool. Direct, unpretentious, yet capable invoking nigh-incandescant spectacles of bodily deconstruction, it is the choice of the true artist. Its understated yet affecting work has been seen throughout the seven generations of gaming, evolving with each new set of hardware to tell us ever more about ourselves and others (and their innards). So the time has surely come for an retrospective appraisal of the changing face of videogame chansaw killings. And here it is.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre | Atari 2600 | 1982

Probably the earliest recorded example of chainsaw-based killing in the videogame medium. A rough, faltering foray in the exploration of man's eternal struggle against high velocity, spinning metal teeth, it was nonetheless given primal visceral impact by its expressionistic representation and light cubist overtones. Alternately, a crappy old game on crappy old hardware, with an animation frame count in single figures and a soundtrack to kill dogs with.


Splatterhouse 2 | Mega Drive | 1992

Things had moved on greatly in the decade between TCM and Splatterhouse 2. 16-bit had superceded what-the-hell's-a-bit, and we now had graphics and music and everything. Truly, games would never look or sound better; a fact reflected by Rick's chainsaw not actually requiring the imagination of twelve 1970s' acid casualties to believably represent a chainsaw.


Z
ombies Ate My Neighbors | SNES/Mega Drive | 1993

While lacking the photorealistic graphic fidelity of Splatterhouse 2's hardware, ZAMN's chainsaw killers were all the more threatening for their unbelievable numbers, aggressively sharp AI and harrowingly realistic sound effects. It was like there was a chainsaw revving in the very room you were playing in! Plus, they managed to swing their weapons around just like the movie TCM's Leatherface; a great improvement over the 2600 game's disturbingly phallic static protrusion.


Doom | PC | 1993

Such was Doom's technical innovation that it even managed to supercede such 1993 contemporaries as Alfred Chicken and Battletoads & Double Dragon in the realism stakes. Battletoads & Double Dragon, people!!

Taking Wolfenstein 3D's ground work and literally taking it to the next level with sprawling, complex maps comprising multiple verticalities, it genuinely was a genre-defining game. With a first-person viewpoint, videogame chainsaw killing was now as real we thought it ever could be. And we enjoyed it. Long did Doom make us question whether we were secretly unwitting psychopaths in the making.


Final Fantasy VI | SNES | 1994

Proving once and for all that videogame chainsaw killing is an equal opportunites employer rather than the sole remit of the horror genre, the Greatest Final Fantasy Ever (tm) brought mechanical limb chopping to the realm of steampunk fantasy.

Ludicrously suave and capable (and suitably the comment avatar of a ludicrously suave and capable GamesRadar editor), Edgar Figaro had a tool for every combat situation. None though, was more satisfying to use than his rampaging chainsaw melee, particularly when he donned a Jason Voorhees mask for critical hits. As such, he pre-empted the Friday the 13th franchise by a good few hundred years from an entirely different branch of the space/time continuum, and is currently in the process of suing Paramount Pictures for theft of IP.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City | PS2 | 2002

Ushering videogame chainsaw killing into a brand new era called the '80s, Vice City's buzz-splat murdering was notable for providing us with a whole, free-roaming city of genuine 3D bodies to carve up. It also upped the horror factor by combining explosive viscera with 1980s' casual fashion.

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23 comments

  • megalodon - February 21, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    i know they arent great but certainly The Evil Dead Games at least one of them should have been mentioned for their Pro Chainsaw Prowess
  • Metroidhunter32 - November 3, 2009 12:38 a.m.

    I think that RE 4 has the best chainsaw ever, even if I disagree with anything involving him being frightening.
  • ozzy910 - November 23, 2008 4 p.m.

    where the hells gears 1 ?!?!
  • grammarnazi - November 23, 2008 4:16 a.m.

    seriously was this article written by a four year old with a thesaurus? there are so many mistakes even in the first freakin paragraph. cmon guys
  • Mystery514 - November 22, 2008 6:42 p.m.

    Seriously, I would have been shocked if they didnt include Gears of War2 in this segment
  • bratman_13 - November 22, 2008 1:33 a.m.

    Dead Rising should be included. You can just camp out in the hardware stores and chainsaw as many zombies as you want! Mmm, juicy.
  • CashWheel - November 22, 2008 12:23 a.m.

    Same here, Juriasu.
  • Juriasu - November 21, 2008 8:50 p.m.

    Oh man. I'm really hoping MadWorld will turn out to be a good game.
  • hareguu - November 21, 2008 3:21 p.m.

    Awesome article.
  • NotoriousBOB - November 21, 2008 11:14 a.m.

    Awesome guys. Oh and FIRST!
  • Tasty_Pasta - November 24, 2008 6:40 p.m.

    I don't know what you guys are talking about, but I was almost positive MadWorld was going to be all black & white with red blood. It's just some crazy artsy style.
  • Defguru7777 - November 23, 2008 10:19 p.m.

    Too bad they didn't make this in time for Halloween.
  • Smeggs - November 23, 2008 4:47 a.m.

    Gears wins simply because I find it more fun to run up holding B and watch Marcus carve them up.
  • adrenaguy - November 22, 2008 9:48 p.m.

    yeah, what's up with that, I am hoping madworld will not ACTUALLY be in black and white
  • I_aM_GoD - November 22, 2008 2:08 p.m.

    Madworld looks decent...but why is it black and white ??
  • brutbrot - November 22, 2008 7:16 a.m.

    Hmm.. why I always cant play the video (unless hosted by youtube)? do you guys know why?
  • Bryce2552 - November 22, 2008 3:54 a.m.

    Someone looked at my comment on 34 ways to kill a zombie. You'll know what im talkiing about if you see it.
  • GoldenMe - November 22, 2008 1:32 a.m.

    Figures that Gears and Resident Evil would be on there. Great article though!
  • ChickenStew - November 22, 2008 1:18 a.m.

    What about Saint's Row 2?
  • Tasty_Pasta - November 21, 2008 7:50 p.m.

    Scarface will always have the best chainsaw. Full Body Dismemberment ftw!

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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