Canceled before release in the 1990s, 'Primal Rage 2' is now playable on PCs

Decades after its arcade release was scuttled by publisher Atari, a long-lost sequel to the 1990s fighting game Primal Rage has finally surfaced and is now playable on modern PCs via emulation.

Primal Rage 2 shifts the series in a new direction, replacing the previous game’s carnosaur cast with humanoid characters while adding a combo system reminiscent of Rare’s Killer Instinct games. The result is a blast from the past that reflects the outlandish design trends frequently seen in ’90s-era fighting games.

Primal Rage, originally released in arcades in 1994, is a one-on-one fighting game that features a playable cast of dinosaurs, primitive apes, and other ancient creatures. As was common in the years after Mortal Kombat‘s release, Primal Rage features ample amounts of blood and gore, along with several over-the-top finishing moves.

The game’s unusual cast and unconventional mechanics won it a dedicated fanbase, and more than a dozen ports of Primal Rage launched across contemporary consoles and computer platforms in the years after its arcade release. Encouraged by initial player reactions and the continuing popularity of arcade fighting games, Atari soon started production on a sequel, Primal Rage 2, which was set to be released in 1996.

Primal Rage 2 makes many notable changes to the series formula, starting with its playable cast. Players choose between several humanoid gods who represent the beasts seen in the original Primal Rage, marking a dramatic change in gameplay. The original game’s fighting mechanics are replaced with a new chain-based combo system, and Primal Rage‘s characters make cameo appearances during transformation moves and combos, though they may also be unlocked for play after players insert multiple credits.

While Primal Rage 2‘s arcade release was eventually canceled, several prototype cabinets managed to survive prerelease location tests, and their ROM data was eventually dumped for use within emulators. Recent advancements by Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) developer Gruntzilla94 rendered the game fully playable on modern PCs, giving Primal Rage fans the chance to experience Atari’s long-lost follow-up more than two decades after its cancellation.