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Primal Rage [SNES]

Primal Rage SNES - Level 16 Difficulty Hard Mode

In the distant future, civilization will collapse and long-dormant Dinosaurs will return to rule the "Urth." After patiently slumbering for 65 million years, seven monolithic beasts will wage war against one another for sole dominance over the planet.

There can be only one reigning Dinosaur. The player must choose a character and fight tooth, nail and spike to gain control.

The Challenge? Complete 1-player mode on Level 16 Difficulty.

Is this a worthy Challenge? Let's find out.


In the 1990s, dozens if not hundreds of video games followed Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat's footsteps in the two-dimensional setting of one-on-one combat. Surprisingly, Primal Rage made an appearance on classic joystick arcade booths:

With such availability across the fighting genre, developers were Challenged to creatively weave a storyline around a common battle system. In 1994, Primal Rage did just that by having players ask themselves:

What is the fate of Urth?

Should Urth cease to exist entirely or simply be cleansed of all organic life? Or, should it just be conquered and all surviving Homo sapiens be forced to serve the Dinosaur Gods? Conversely, should Urth be saved from such destructive ambitions?

To save or destroy Urth, the player must win a best-of-three battle against each of the other six reigning Dinosaurs. According to the storyline, the player travels across Urth to conquer each Dinosaur's homeland - in other words, a Primal Crusade.

Primal Rage: Conquer Urth

With seven Dinosaurs to choose from, four represent Virtue and three represent Destruction:

  • The Virtue Beasts: Armadon, Blizzard, Sauron, Talon

  • The Destructive Beasts: Chaos, Diablo, Vertigo


One would expect that a name like "Sauron" would represent a Middle Earth-esque diabolical leader. Instead, Sauron is a Tyrannosaurus Rex attempting to save Urth on the Virtuous-side of this battle.

Primal Rage: Choose Dinosaur

Lord Rigor chose Armadon, the steadfast armored God of Life. Where most of the other Dinosaur Gods rely on primal force, Armadon succeeds through attentive defensiveness alongside bursts of rage. Armadon is fictionally coined as a "Tristegasauratops" and described as "a cross-breed between the non-fictional species of the armored reptilian Ankylosaurus and tail-spiked herbivore Stegosaurus."

The more Difficult enemies were indeed the Apes in which their Special Moves accompanied with swift haymakers resulted in numerous initial failures. It Is apparent that Blizzard was modeled after the infamous Sub-Zero. An equally Difficult character on Mortal Kombat's Very Hard Mode, he too freezes vulnerable opponents mid-combat. A sudden cold death no matter the perpetrator.

Primal Rage: Blizzard

Level 16 Difficulty

Spike-to-spike combat battles on Level 16 Difficulty is indeed Difficult. There is a balance to find between offense and defense. Lord Rigor's overall defensiveness was a result of how relentless the other AI Dinosaurs become when they are within arms reach. In this arena, the mantra "give an inch and they'll take a mile" is incredibly relevant. Consider the Apes, Chaos and Blizzard, who, if opponents get too close, will combo enemies into submission before having a chance to counter-attack.

Nevertheless, even on Level 16 Difficulty, the other Dinosaur Gods aren't immortal. Yes, losses will still occur at times but players are provided three arcade-style credits to be able to continue the Difficult expedition.

Primal Rage: Continue?

Once Lord Rigor learned the Level 16 Difficulty battle mechanics, He utilized Armadon's slower speed to His advantage. Generally waiting for opponents to attack, Armadon's more defensive maneuvers over-powered most offensive attacks; this primarily included utilizing simple uppercuts to halt aerial bombardments.

Lord Rigor's offensive strategy was simple and involved an absurd amount of jumping. When the enemy was off-guard and open to an attack, Lord Rigor dropped His own Blitzkrieg upon the enemy. It took time to master this simple attack in which, during that time, plentiful deaths occurred.

Similar to Gradius III failures, behold another account of perseverance through death:

Unfortunately, this repetitive aerial attack was a result of not having any other options. When possible, Lord Rigor attempts to complete Hard Modes without the use of the internet. In this instance, Lord Rigor never learned any Special Moves. To reiterate the slight monotony, when Blizzard freezes, Lord Rigor counterattacks with an aerial attack. When Vertigo teleports, Lord Rigor counterattacks with an aerial attack.

Ironically, the only Special Move that Lord Rigor discovered organically was the "Super Jump." Instead of just pushing Up on the D-Pad to jump, the player can click Down on the D-Pad and then immediately click Up to gain additional height. This jumping move became the key weapon in Lord Rigor's aerial arsenal.

The Final Battle

In fact, winning the rounds of best-of-three was only a warm-up. The true toil of Primal Rage lies in the Final Battle. Here, the player must fight each of the seven Dinosaurs consecutively! The other Dinosaurs are desperate and create a treacherous pact. As The God of Life, Armadon will exercise authority on who shall live and who shall die. It will be Difficult but all shall perish under Armadon's spike of justice.

By the time players have reached the Final Battle, fatigue of the thumbs have already set in from the previous seven victories. Fortunately, there is a brief break. To prepare for the Final battle, players are provided a Feeding Frenzy: eat as many tiny humans as possible in 10 seconds.

Primal Rage: Eat Humans

Based on how many humans are devoured, the player is energized with additional HP (seen as green on the HP bar). Although critical to success on the Final Battle, Level 16 Difficulty limits how much HP may be achieved. Lord Rigor never exceeded 20% despite consuming copious amounts of Homo sapiens.

It is worth noting that during the Final Battle, Primal Rage developers implemented a unique mechanic to reward players. In short, for any Credits that the players did not use leading up to the Final Battle, those Credits are used to regenerate health based on Feeding Frenzy performance. Without these credits, Lord Rigor would have been overpowered from the onslaught.

Under a darkened primeval sky, the Final Battle soon becomes a wasteland of Dinosaur blood and bones. Here, Lord Rigor tramples over the remains of His enemies and saves the Urth from destruction:


Is this a worthy Challenge? Yes.

Primal Rage is a cataclysmic journey. In relation to Level 16 Difficulty, a superb balance between hardship and time commitment was struck. Primal Rage demanded death and sacrifice but not at the expense of forcing players to research Special Moves for the sake of victory. Patience and Will alone allowed Lord Rigor to save Urth with His innate skill set.

And thus, it will now be recorded that Armadon, the ancient God of Life, prevailed. Although the other Dinosaurs were indeed Armadon's brethren, their ambitions required Armadon to smite them down and take their lives. May their bones ripen the Urth anew and allow Armadon to sleep deeply once again.


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