FINISH HIM! Who can ever forget those words, especially when you are about to pull off a fatality move on your opponent. One of the most violent games that came out in the pixelated era. A game to created to go heads up against Street Fighter. NetherRealm Studios probably knew Street Fighter was one game that would be hard to knock off of the fighter’s podium, but it can heavily challenge its ways by putting in something extra; something a little different. NetherRealm decided to release this game with a little, flair. And by flair, I mean blood. Lots of it. This is one of the main highlights that got this game noticed in the 90s. Who can forget Sub-Zero ripping an opponent’s head off? Or Sonya giving one of the characters a kiss of death? So many violent, yet memorable moments. As a kid in the 90s, violence in video games weren’t rare, but they weren’t shown off graphically like the way Mortal Kombat did. Mortal Kombat showed off violence and blood like how Playboy shows off women. They meant to show as much violence as possible.
Showing up at arcades and video game retailers all across the world on August 8, 1992 (1993 for console ports), games would never be the same. Ever. Mortal Kombat heavily borrowed from Street Fighters’ great formula, but they decided to tweak the formula here and there. The biggest change was the addition of the fatality move. Usually Street Fighter just ended once one of the player’s health bars goes down all the way in a 2 out of 3 round match. But the developers added the fatality to humiliate your foe’s defeat, in an awesome way of course. The game was crude compared to Street Fighter’s formula, but it still made the best of it.
Besides the blood, the graphics also caught the gamer’s attention. The pseudo photo-realism graphics the game pumped out were not only great, but different. It was something many gamers weren’t accustomed to and really stood out from the pixelated art form we grew up with (or at least for the most of us). The stages were out of the ordinary too. Mortal Kombat’s seven stages were nothing great to look at, but one stood above the rest and was the best in any fighting game. The one I am obviously talking about is the famous pit stage. The only stage in the game to have an interactive use. Press the combination of buttons at FINISH HIM!, and then you can send your opponent into the pit of spikes. Hearing the scream of your foe is another humiliation to face.
The voice acting was another surprise. I mean, there was very little lines for the voice actors to work with, but it was a nice touch to know that these fighters weren’t cartoons, just angry people. There is really nothing to say about the sounds and music of the game, mostly forgettable. The fighting mechanics were very simple. It borrowed heavily from Street Fighter and even had a lot of move based on the same combinations of buttons to pull off the special moves. If you take away all the bloodshed, the game would have been a dud (the SNES definitely showed how that was possible).
Surprisingly there is a story behind all this bloodshed. Shang Tsung is holding a tournament for all the world’s best and craziest fighters. And…that’s about it. The game didn’t really have an explanation of the story behind this blood filled tournament. All you know is that all the characters are fighting to be the greatest in the world. I don’t know about you, but games at least gave you some sort of background. I guess they just knew that the gamers would just want to soak in all the bloodshed anyways and ignore the story.
The gameplay was simple. And cheap. There were two things that annoyed me about this game, the throwing and the leg sweeps. Those were two ways of beating your opponent silly. But still, what game is ever perfect? I forgave the fighting system, because of the cool and bloody factor. There was just so much violence and that was a good thing. The violence rocked the video game industry, because it sparked debates about how video games can cause gamers to become violent. I don’t know about you guys and gals, but I seem to be fine from all the violence I’ve seen (so that means you should have turned ok too). Mortal Kombat just decided to dare itself to do something devilish and it succeeded. Mortal Kombat knew it couldn’t beat out Street Fighter in the fighting genre, but it sure did make a mark on the genre.