One of the rare titles cancelled despite being complete, Thrill Kill was to be the first PlayStation fighting game to feature four-player simultaneous action. Despite a well-publicized ad campaign that played up Thrill Kill's violence and mature theme, Electronic Arts delivered the coup de grace in September 1998, one month after acquiring original publisher Virgin Interactive's assets. The decision was met with controversy, especially due to the timing of the announcement, which was weeks before the scheduled release date in October. Some disgruntled players organized online petitions for Electronic Arts to release the game, while others vented their disgust through phone calls and letters.
Not only did Electronic Arts refuse to publish the game after acquiring it from Virgin Interactive, but the company also refused to relinquish the license to another publisher. As a result, the game was never commercially released. Stating "the tone and the tenor of the game are just too violent," in an interview, Electronic Arts deemed Thrill Kill's gameplay too risqué even for a generation that saw the release of Mortal Kombat, Time Killers, Carmageddon, Loaded, and similar games. The characters that were sent to hell for their criminal pasts included a dominatrix type armed with a cattle prod, a surgeon outfitted with a steel jaw, a malicious dwarf on stilts, a cannibal wielding a severed leg, and even conjoined twins.
Four characters appeared onscreen at once, with team-up moves available for friends. One player could hold a character while the other ripped into a rival, literally, with two forms of punches and kicks, and an assortment of throws, special moves, and counters. Each hit fills a character's Kill Meter, allowing players to perform vicious finishing moves called "Thrill Kills" once maxed. Moves were explicitly violent, with decapitations, eviscerations, and other gruesome acts, but there were also sexual overtones in some of the animations. Thrill Kill originally received the rare "Adults Only" rating by the ESRB before changes were submitted that removed certain moaning sounds and animated gestures. The same 3D engine would be revisited in the developer's second fighting game, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide