Mortal Kombat

This is where you can deliberate anything relating to videogames - past, present and future.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 2302
Joined: August 27th, 2012, 4:28 pm
Location: Liverpool, Europe, Earth

Mortal Kombat

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here is where you can leave your thoughts regarding Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, Mortal Kombat 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and MK Trilogy for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

User avatar
Posts: 6273
Joined: September 2nd, 2012, 12:36 pm
Location: Walsall, UK.

Re: Mortal Kombat / II / 3 / UMK3 / Trilogy

Post by Alex79uk »

I've kinda fallen out of love with the Mortal Kombat series these days, but back when I was a kid I was absolutely mad on them. The first time I played the original must have been around release time. A grocery shop just up the road from us when we were little used to have an arcade cabinet shoved up one dark corner. Over time I played Turtles, Street Fighter 2, R-Type, and Mortal Kombat. I remember really clearly being really excited when they got it in. My brother and I would run up there each week with our pocket money and play until it ran out.

A while later, it got a home console release. We had a Sega Master System at the time, and a friend (who also had one) got a copy for Christmas. I remember the tight git made me loan him about ten of my games just to borrow Mortal Kombat off him for a couple of days. It was worth it, though. Despite it being an incredibly neutered version of the game with only two backgrounds and a shocking frame rate, my brother and I loved the hell out of it.

When we finally joined the 16bit era, Mortal Kombat was one of the first games we picked up. I still remember the Megadrive blood code like it was yesterday - ABACABB! Years later I even used that finger pattern when practising guitar! We were blown about by the port, in our heads it was arcade perfect - of course it wasn't, though.

Mortal Kombat 2 was snapped up straight away when that came out. It improved everything from the first game. More characters, more locations, more moves, and absolutely loads of stuff to discover. Babalities, Friendships, and of course the over the top gore-filled Fatality finishers. The game was an immediate hit in our house.

So yeah, Mortal Kombat. Not a series I've kept up with, but many fond memories of the early days of the series.

User avatar
Posts: 368
Joined: November 24th, 2015, 1:12 pm
Location: Wrocław, Poland

Re: Mortal Kombat / II / 3 / UMK3 / Trilogy

Post by macstat »

Mortal Kombat was one of those games i always wanted to play when i was younger ... because of all its gore :). Lets face it, fatality was its main feature and most young boys played it for the same reason. To rip someone's spine out, or smash skull, or burn bodies till nice charred skeleton is all that remains ;).
Underneath this there was also quite competent fighting game, very different in nature than its main rival of that time (Street Fighter). MK was always less about combos, but on the other hand (if im not mistaken) was one of first games that tried a bit off juggling (nothing as crazy as you see these days but you could chain two or three hits).
There's also two important differences that made this game in comparision to other beat-em ups in PC significantly more playable. First of all it was slower than SF, and special abiliites that were very important part of the game were more forgiving to do. Other thing is almost no quarter and half-circle moves. If anyone played super street fighter II turbo on keyboard probably know what im talking about, how difficult some supers were to pull off on keyboard. MK on the other hand had a lot of one-direction combinations like "left-left-low_punch" which was much more friendly for PC players.

My memories are mostly from MK 1 and 2. After that i played a little bit of MK3 but it was only downhill from there. Unfortunately novelty of fatalities quickly wore off, and series didnt improve enough to go toe to toe with competition. When in 97 Tekken 3 came out MK was really ancient in comparision.

User avatar
Posts: 1021
Joined: September 12th, 2016, 3:55 am
Location: Australia

Re: Mortal Kombat / II / 3 / UMK3 / Trilogy

Post by Joshihatsumitsu »

The first time I came across Mortal Kombat was many, many moons ago, when I guess I would have been around 11-12 years old. The arcade machine was not located in the arcade, as machines back in ye olden days could be found in many random places, like tobacconist or tourist spots. It definitely stood out, with it's defiant 5 button layout in an "x" formation (no 6 button Street Fighter configuration here), the sounds of "come here!" and "test your might!", the cabinet itself with its big Midway logo and black dragon silhouette, and the digitised actors. It had a very circus, carnival-type vibe to it.

I had seen digitised-typed graphics in arcade games before, like Pit-Fighter and the not-overly-popular Time Traveler from Sega (which was more hologram than digitised, but splitting hairs...), but the level of Looney Toons-type violence in Mortal Kombat definitely made it stand out. Throwing spears into peoples chests to drag them over, the iconic uppercut that is just sooooo satisfying when it connects, and the fatalities... there was really no machine quite like that, especially in my sleepy end of the globe.

I didn't play it a lot at the arcades, because it was a bit more expensive than other machines at the time, and well, having a limited budget mean making tough, childhood decisions. I'm vague as how I ended up playing the SNES version so much: looking at my shelf, I didn't own it, so it was either from a friend or it was a rental. I remember spending a lot of time trying to perform and see as many fatalities as possible. The Megadrive version was uncensored, but in my opinion I thought the SNES version looked much better. Plus, I didn't have a Megadrive at the time, so I might be a bit biased.

I loved the design of Goro, definitely more than fighting him cause he was a right bastard to defeat! Same with the shapeshifting Shang Tsung, who's bearded old-man design in the first game I kinda prefer: makes him more mystically and mythical, where what he lacks in brute strength (which Goro is nothing but) he make up for in magic. The first game felt like a distillation of 1980's (maybe even late 70's) trashy movie influences: the were ninja's, kung-fu masters, four-armed "Ray Harryhausen-esque" monsters, a cyborg-man with a knife, a Hollywood movie star who also knows martial arts, a blonde girl... it's just so super goofy and adolescent cool.

The whole "censorship" thing became irrelevant by the time Mortal Kombat 2 came along. That SNES cartridge is still in my collection, and I think I spent even more time on this bigger, bloodier and bolder sequel, working my way through all the characters and all fatalities and secrets. I felt like it's a better game to control than the first game, or maybe I just liked that there was much more content. The bar for where greatness is as a teenager is considerately lower.

By the time Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 came around (I think I played regular MK3, I just can't remember), video rental stores were selling off a lot of older stock, videos and games, and picked up a cheap ex-rental copy of UMK3 (which, again, is still on my shelf). I must have put a lot of time into that game too, but I don't know. The first impressions of the original 1992 cabinet is long gone, and there was nothing really as ostentatious and outrageous as the original at the time. It could be argued that the controls were much better by UMK3, and that there was more content than ever... but eh... there's something special about the loud and rough-around-the-edges original. That five button "x" layout... they had every intention of being unlike everyone else, and despite all it influenced, it's still quite unique.

User avatar
Posts: 27
Joined: June 28th, 2016, 1:28 am

Re: Mortal Kombat / II / 3 / UMK3 / Trilogy

Post by BlueWeaselBreath »

Now, here we go! Most video games I don't play til several years after they come out, because I can never fit new console releases into my budget, but HERE is a franchise I was in with from the ground floor.

Mortal Kombat showed up one day in the skating rink arcade where we used to go to every Friday as part of my elementary after-school program. It stood out among the beloved Simpsons beat-em-up, Arch-Rivals, and NARC cabinets due to its legendary graphic violence. I think it was only the second fighting game I had played, after Street Fighter II, although a Pit-Fighter cabinet made a sad but valiant effort at some point in the same arcade around that time.

At the time, the graphics of Mortal Kombat were astounding to me, the blood was funny, the finishing moves were revelatory, and something about the two palette swapped ninjas was very compelling to me (as preposterous as the idea of brightly clad ninjas is, in hindsight). We kids snickered at Johnny Cage's nut punch and also the fact that he gallantly refrains from punching Sonya's crotch.

Scorpion was always my favorite character to play as, although I never got very far in the game. I'd usually watch and marvel at the older kids as they kicked ass, but I don't recall ever seeing anyone ever get any father than Goro at the time.

In retrospect, it's unthinkable that a modern school district would be able to let 1st and 2nd graders run amok at an arcade where a game this revolutionarily violent was present, without parental outcry, public outrage, a social media shaming campaign, and national news coverage. In 1992, it was par for the course, and nobody must have complained, as the school program continued taking us there for years as each subsequent installment arrived.

The fact that it inspired so many imitators and was so omnipresent at the time made me think that Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat were the two best, and equally awesome, fighting games around. I somehow grew up with this misapprehension.

A few years after its release, on a cruise ship arcade, I had enough quarters to sink some real time into the original MK arcade game, and already it felt a bit dated (MKIII was already out by then) though still enjoyable. But when I played the original MK and SFII via MAME a few months back, I found that Street Fighter had aged really well, but Mortal Kombat felt really staid, and sluggish, and boring, and a bit ugly.

Mortal Kombats II and III have held up a bit better, due to the more stylized and colorful graphical presentation, as well as improved mechanics. Again, these machines showed up abruptly at our skating rink when I was a child, without warning, and were mobbed for weeks as a particular group of young males (invariably males, I don't remember a single girl ever showing a modicum of interest) explored them. "Woah, this one you can turn them into babies! Look, you can knock them into the acid pit! You can play as Reptile!"

Mortal Kombat was neat because of secret combatants you could access, like Reptile in the first game, Smoke and Noob Saibot in the second, and so on. Around the time of Mortal Kombat II, I started reading game magazines that laid out all the moves and secrets, and I distinctly remember in third grade typing up and printing out a list of everybody's moves and fatalities, with cool fonts including a bunch of Wingdings, and giving this document to another kid who had asked for it about six months earlier. "Finally!" he said when I gave it to him. Better late than never, Blake. I hope it helped your game.

I mostly played the Mortal Kombat games in arcades, but I did play Ultimate Mk3 on the SNES and had a good time with it. Ultimate is probably my favorite of the original trilogy, as they'd had a chance to refine the mechanics by then, and I still find the aesthetic appealing even today, although I regard the fact that they didn't give the police officer Kurtis Stryker a finishing move called a Brutality as a missed opportunity.

The Mortal Kombat franchise lost me when it made the move to 3D for the fourth game. I saw it once on a field trip to Houston and disliked it immediately. In addition to the unappealing aesthetic and confusing perspective (3D movement was still a novelty in such games at that time), they added way too many new characters and removed too many familiar ones to make the game approachable for series veterans such as myself. Who was this bald guy Quan Chi? I didn't know him. I didn't want to know him. Consider me alienated. I didn't get into any other game until the Mortal Kombat reboot, which I purchased because it was such a strong return to form, and captured what I'd liked about the original game in a fresh way.

By the way, the movies...the first one was okay for what it was. The second one, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, which I rented shortly after it came to VHS, is the most execrable piece of filmmaking I have ever seen to this day. I recommend this motion picture to any aspiring filmmaker or movie fan as an anti-master class, a striking negative example of what films should and should not be. In every single maneuver the film makes -- from killing off Cage in the opening beats, to jarringly recasting Sonya, to the foul special effects, to the budget-Halloween-store-level wardrobe choices, to the rapid and perfunctory insertion of as many characters as possible, to the excruciating performances and dire script -- it is as if the director was dutifully and adroitly following each step of a self-help book called "How to Create a Truly Atrocious Movie."

Anyway, the original Mortal Kombat trilogy is an important part of my gamer DNA and the fighting game series I spent the most time with by far. My memories of it likely far outstrip its actual merits as a series, and I gather that the legacy of the series is more based on the cultural influence of its presentation than the quality of the gameplay itself, but it holds a special place in my heart as a gamer who came of age in the early 90s.

User avatar
Posts: 29
Joined: March 6th, 2017, 10:49 pm

Re: Mortal Kombat / II / 3 / UMK3 / Trilogy

Post by ashman86 »

I was eight years old the first time I played Mortal Kombat. I was spending the night at a friend's house, and he and his brother were big fans of the series. Until that night, I had only ever seen the game in arcades, and only ever out of the corner of my eye. I was not a sheltered child, but I was uncomfortable with gore in games, and Mortal Kombat's reputation for over-the-top violence was both infamous and legendary on the playground, even (maybe especially) for kids as young as I was.

I told my friends about my aversion to pixellated blood, but they assured me, with transparent disappointment on their faces, that the SNES version had toned down the game's violence considerably and that blood had been replaced with spit, or at least that's how we interpreted the pinkish clouds that puffed out of the game's combatants with each punch and kick.

I left their house the next morning a super-fan of the game, determined to learn everything I could about it and its cast of characters, particularly the ninja, Sub-Zero and Scorpion. I’d later purchase the game for Sega CD, which I considered the definitive edition of the game outside of the arcade for years to come.

Arcades were already few and far between where I grew up, so while we were aware that a sequel existed, everything we knew about the second game were rumors and tidbits that were passed around the schoolyard and originated with the friend of a friend of a friend of someone’s big brother. We heard about secret fatalities, secret playable characters, hidden stages and boss fights. Most of it was pure myth, but some of it proved true. In fact, more than just about any other series that I can think of, Mortal Kombat has seemingly always maintained a reputation of endless secrets ready to be unlocked or cracked, most of which were pure fabrication but always with just enough that proved true to continue to fuel the rumors.

It wasn’t until Mortal Kombat II saw a port to home consoles that I finally got my hands on it. Even now, decades later, I can vividly remember sitting down in front of my TV to play it for the first time. At the time, I still felt rather uncomfortable with blood in games, but I wasn’t about to let that prevent me from enjoying the sequel to what had become one of my favorite games. I had something of an epiphany that day when I realized just how exaggerated and cartoonish the gore looked.

Mine may sound like a story of innocence lost to violent gaming—the kind of story I’m sure some conservative politician would love to appropriate for his or her own agenda—but I actually credit Mortal Kombat II for teaching me a valuable lesson that day. It was the first game in which I was able to consciously identify and separate the concept of violence on the screen from violence in the real world. It grounded me in a way that’s hard to articulate.

MKII remains my favorite game in the series to this day. I’d argue that its more iconic stages, like The Pit 2 and the Dead Forest, are some of the best in fighting game history, and it was jam-packed with secrets like the secret boss fights with Smoke and Noob Saibot, Shang Tsung’s secret fatality (in which he morphs into Kintaro), and the rather silly ability to force an enemy’s corpse to drop from the spiked ceiling of the Kombat Tomb. Oh, and it was completely mind-blowing to me at the time to learn that two of the first game’s bosses, Reptile and Shang Tsung, were actually playable this time around.

I was a bit older by the time Mortal Kombat 3 hit arcades, and Mortal Kombat felt like it was at the peak of its popularity. Cabinets began popping up in places I actually had access to—the movie theater, the local recreational center, and others—and I played it every chance I got.

I remember the controversy among my friends about Sub-Zero’s unmasking and the robotification of the Lin Kuei. I remember the dubious rumors of Firendships, Animalities (which had originally been rumored for MK2), and Babalities, all of which ultimately proved true. I also remember the addition of the run button and stamina bar that fueled the game’s new combo system and polarized its fan base. And by God, I remember how glorious it was when I walked into my friend’s house one fateful day to find him playing it on his new PlayStation. I surprised him that day when I finished him off with a fatality I had learned in arcades for Sub-Zero (Block, Block, Run, Block, Run).

Compared to MK2, which had felt so stuffed to the brim with secrets, Three was an entirely different beast, an absolute juggernaut. The cheat code system allowed players to unlock Smoke as a playable character for the first time in the series’ history or to disable the run button or to play Galaga—freaking Galaga!—in-game. In virtually every way imaginable, MK3 defined itself through excess: an excess of executable finishing moves, an excess of secrets to unlock, and an excess of violence the likes of which the series hadn’t seen before. Bodies exploded in multiple sets of ribcages and skulls, and some fighters could literally destroy the whole world in their fatality sequences.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 perfected the series’ new formula, and it’s my second-favorite game in the franchise. It’s actually difficult for me to remember which of UMK3’s fighters were new additions and which of them were part of the original version, but I haven’t forgotten just how incredibly large and diverse the roster felt. Trilogy felt like more-or-less the same game with a roster that was expanded even further to absurd limits, and it was one of my most-played titles for the Sega Saturn. But by then, the formula had grown a bit stale.

In the years that followed, my love for Mortal Kombat slowly but surely began to wane. MK4 was pitched as a reboot of sorts, and while I was thrilled at the time to see the series going 3D, I didn’t get to play it nearly as often as I wanted until it eventually launched as Mortal Kombat Gold for the Dreamcast, which was an altogether terrible game that I couldn’t help but play until I had unlocked every character’s CGI ending cinematic. I soon moved onto better 3D fighters like Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive 2. And while Deception later reinvigorated my love for the series for a short while, the changes it brought to Mortal Kombat wore out their welcome quickly with each direct sequel.

Nowadays, I’m no longer a superfan of the series. I’ll even freely admit that Street Fighter was the better fighter all along, a statement that would surely have boiled the blood of my younger self. I haven’t played more than a handful of matches of the latest MK games in spite of the fact that I know they’re both pretty great games. I simply don’t play fighting games all that often any more, and I’m no longer invested in the series’ characters or the lore surrounding them. I do still get a kick out of watching the fatalities on YouTube occasionally, and the most recent game’s caused me to squirm quite a bit. I can see now why parents were so concerned about the original game, although I also still recognize that it’s all in good fun.

Still, I remember the Klassic games fondly even though I can recognize now that they weren’t truly the best fighters of their generation. What they lacked in substance, they more than made up for in humor, flash, and a unique, even charismatic, sense of style.

User avatar
Bloody Initiate
Posts: 42
Joined: October 1st, 2015, 3:06 am

Re: Mortal Kombat / II / 3 / UMK3 / Trilogy

Post by Bloody Initiate »

I loved these initial Mortal Kombat games. We weren't allowed to own one, but we visited plenty with those who had them.

To me the violence and fatalities simply created visibility rather than attract, because these were my first fighting games (along with some Street Fighter, which never clicked for me, and Primal Rage, which did).

I found the super powers much more satisfying in Mortal Kombat than the wussy fighters of other games who primarily kicked and punched. I loved teleporting with the cyborgs, slamming people on the ground with Ermac (A move only I among my peers mastered), and letting my opponent's super-predictable opening jump-kick fall prey to my frozen double on Sub-Zero.

I also liked how the game had a sense of humor but had the right level of sincerity. I agree with most people who don't like when a piece of entertainment confuses its own tone, but a lot of this 90s and early 2000s stuff was better when it took itself at least a little bit seriously. Part of that is due to the technology restrictions, you can't put in a bunch of goofy cut scenes and high-pitched Japanese into an old Sega cartridge. It helped to have the tough-sounding voices though, even though everyone was wearing all bright colors and Johnny Cage was nut-punching robots. I desired to avoid losing so I wouldn't suffer a humiliating fatality, or even just a gruesome move.

At the time games were simpler and I preferred that in the fighting genre. I've never really followed fighting games that much, because they went in a different design direction than I would have liked. To properly execute powerful, versatile, and practical moves in early Mortal Kombat games usually just required a short 2-3 button combination. I'm OK with "press down and forward with B" because it doesn't feel like a "combo" so much as getting more out of the limited controller. Lots of games do this now on consoles, A+B does this thing, while X+Y does another thing. I like this as a way to expand the inputs you can create with minimal finger adjustment.

When you get a long sequence of buttons I pretty much instantly lose interest. I have a bit of a confession to make as a gamer: I hate combos. I've always hated them, like someone hates snipers or campers in a shooter. I don't disrespect what it requires to be effective in this way, it's just not my style and I've always preferred to focus on basics. Combos don't translate from game to game, basics do.

Mortal Kombat games did this. There were some longer combos if you wanted, but you could quickly see the error in them because they took a lot of freedom and time to execute. I understand that this was due to system limitations rather than any revolutionary design choices, but sometimes it's just a good time to be a certain kind of gamer. The years these games were popular were good years to be these kinds of games.

I've enjoyed some fighting games since, and it's worth noting that in my experience, a fighting game is as much fun as the number of people you can play with in the same room. I've never bought one though, and since all fighting games appear to be competing for cheesiness in some kind of community inside joke, I'm not sure I ever will. I was glad to cut my teeth on Mortal Kombat though, and I remember it with fondness and gratitude.

On an unrelated note, Reptile beating the hell out of Liu Kang is easily the best part in the Mortal Kombat movie.

Post Reply