The Atari Jaguar very nearly played host to a port of of Midway’s Mortal Kombat 3, and rumours suggest that it was actually finished before being cancelled. Unfortunately, the hole left in the system’s library by the disappearance of John Tobias and Ed Boon’s highly acclaimed 2D brawler was only partly plugged by copycat titles like Ultra Vortek and Kasumi Ninja…and the less said about the latter, the better. While Ultra Vortek was actually a highly competent alternative to Mortal Kombat, Kasumi Ninja is best remembered as that fighting game with a pitiful frame rate and a Scottish character (called Angus, naturally) who had the uncanny ability to emit fireballs from beneath his kilt. I wish I was joking.
Another title that planned to take advantage of the popularity of Motal Kombat style fighters was Thea Realm Fighters, from prolific Atari Jaguar developer High Voltage Software. Featuring familiar digitised graphics and even employing the skills of various Mortal Kombat character actors, Thea Realm Fighters promised over 20 different playable combatants, a lengthy arcade mode and some of the finest background parallax effects ever seen in a home console game. Alas, Thea Realm Fighters was quietly withdrawn from release schedules in late 1995 when it looked like the Jaguar was finally being put out to pasture, and since then very little has ever been seen of this almost mythical fighter in anything but grainy YouTube videos. Thea Realm Fighters looked like another lost Jaguar game, but a recent discovery has changed that status somewhat.
As detailed in this thread at Atari Age (and also discussed here at Assembler Games), the demo version of Thea Realm Fighters that was shown at the 1995 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been discovered and released online. The demo features only a handful of characters and stages, and is playable using either an emulator or an Atari Jaguar Skunkboard. According to reports at Atari Age, the Skunkboard version runs a lot better than an emulator but we caught up with the collector behind the rom dump, Nicholas Persijn. I asked Nicholas about his reasons for releasing the demo – a demo for which he paid a considerable sum – and he told me: “I’m always looking for ways to expand the Atari Jaguar fan scene. This has been a personal holy grail for years and when I finally got my chance, I couldn’t keep it for myself.”
You’ll find some (emulator) footage of the game in action below, and while it may not look overly impressive remember it is only a demo. The version of the game that was in a more complete state at the time of cancellation is believed to be a lot more impressive, but has never been released online. However, for Jaguar fans and hunters of games or digital artifacts previously thought lost to the mists of time, the discovery of a playable version of Thea Realm Fighters is very exciting. As with the recent discovery of N64 racer Rev Limit, Thea Realm Fighters represents a very real possibility that even more unreleased games will be found and released in the future.
Atari Jaguar Thea Realm Fighters (emulated) Gameplay