A spiritual successor to their previous fighting game Time Killers, BloodStorm builds upon the excessive violence (now adding dedicated Fatalities and moves that slice off the opponent's lower body to prevent them from jumping/kicking) while introducing a new grimdark sci-fi storyline (reminiscent of the Dark Age of Comic Books), a new weapon system (where each fighter has throwable devices called "gauntlets"), numerous secrets, stages with custom mechanics (such as stage fatalities and ring outs), and the ability to gain new abilities by defeating opponents (in similar vein to the Mega Man series).
The game is mostly known for its controversial magazine advertisement featuring Daniel Pesina, the actor who originally portrayed Johnny Cage and most of the ninjas in the early Mortal Kombat games. It is widely believed that this minor endorsement caused the actor to be fired from Midway (although they parted ways prior due to legal disputes).
Bloodstorm features a 5-button system similar to Time Killers, where each attack button represents each limb (Back Arm, Front Arm, Back Leg, Front Leg). The only major difference is that the Head button is replaced by a dedicated Block button (reminiscent of Mortal Kombat games).
Universal abilities include throwing (by pressing Forward + Back Leg, which can be negated by the opponent by spinning the joystick), different uppercuts (by pressing Down and either Arm button), and variety of trips and slide kicks (by pressing Down + either Leg button or Away + Front Leg).
Each fighter has their own unique weapon, called a Gauntlet, which has its own unique special move (done by pressing Down, Down-Forward, Forward + Front Arm). In addition, players can throw their gauntlet at their opponent (by pressing Forward + both Back buttons) and pick up any gauntlet on the ground (by pressing Away + Front Arm, even for gauntlets dropped by opponents).
Like Time Killers, it's possible to dismember your opponent character's arms by repeated attacks, causing most attacks dealt with their corresponding attack button to be futile. It's also possible to decapitate your opponent character by using the character's special Death Move. Unlike Time Killers, the Death Move is now a unique command for each fighter and can now only be done when the opponent is stunned (making it more like a fatality).
Each character also has a Super Death Move (a special version of the Death Move that adds more flourish) and a Sunder, a special variation of the Death Move that severs the legs from the torso. Sunders leave the opponent alive but sitting on their pile of guts (making them unable to move or use their Kick attacks).
Similar to the Mega Man series, players can obtain special abilities from their opponents by defeating them. Defeating some hidden Agents of Nekron can provide an upgraded version of some powers.
- Cruise Missile (Talon) - While holding Block, press Away twice and then Forward. Limited uses per round. Earned after defeating
- Earthquake (Tremor) - After charging Away, press Forward + Front Leg.
- E.R. Cannon (Fallout) - While holding Block, press Up, Up-Forward, Forward.
- Hellfire (Hellhound) - Press Up, Up-Forward, Forward. Repeating this while being frozen by Freon's freeze ability allows the player to escape quicker.
- Grenades (Mirage) / Incendiary Bombs (Wraith) - Press Down, Down-Away, Away + Back Arm. Limited uses per round.
- Ice Morph (Freon) - Press Down three times.
- Mines (Mirage) / Smart Mines (Golem) - Press Down + both Leg buttons.
- Optical Laser (Razor) / Surgical Laser (Ratchet) - While holding Block, press Forward twice.
- Storm Shield (Tempest) - While holding Block, press Forward, Away, Forward, and then Away.
After choosing a character, players can input a custom password using the buttons and joystick to save their character's progress, allowing them to use their gained powers at a later game.
The game includes eight playable fighters at the start, each with their own unique gauntlet and "passable powers":
After defeating all eight fighters and learning their "passable powers", players must fight one of the elusive Agents of Nekron, followed by Nekron's pet beast and then Nekron himself. All Agents of Nekron use their own movelist and special gauntlet, and can only be fought through secret means (with the exception of Sin).
- Sin (boss, based on Mirage)
- Chainsaw (boss, flying creature that uses no gauntlet, cannot duck, use passable powers, or become dismembered/decapitated)
- Nekron (final boss, uses his own special gauntlet, cannot jump, duck, use passable powers, or become dismembered/decapitated)
- Blood (hidden opponent, based on Hellhound, uses Nekron's gauntlet, has a continuous blood fountain effect on his head)
- Craniac (hidden opponent, based on Talon)
- Dementia (hidden opponent, based on Tempest)
- Golem (hidden opponent, based on Tremor)
- Ratchet (hidden opponent, based on Razor)
- Shadow (hidden opponent, based on Freon, invisible until hit, cannot be stunned, uses all personal powers)
- Wraith (hidden opponent, based on Fallout)
All bosses and the hidden Agents can be played using Password Codes (with Blood, Chainsaw, and Nekron only playable on v2.20 and above), while some (excluding Blood, Shadow, Chainsaw, and Nekron) can also be playable using special Taunt Codes.