Yeah I realise that I'm crap at fighting games and only understand them at the most basic level, but the game was requested, so the game's getting played. I actually know a tiny bit more about this one than most though as I played the first few Mortal Kombat games a bit when I was younger. I bet I can even remember a couple of the special moves.
Street Fighter II was kind of a big deal in the early 90s, giving players a taste for proper competitive gameplay, arcades the kind of popularity they hadn't seen since the era of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, and developers a brand new bandwagon to hop onto. By the time Midway decided they wanted to throw their hat into the ring, they were going up against an army of these clones and needed a way to stand out from the crowd.
The solution: borrow Narc and Pit-Fighter's technique of filming martial artists and converting the footage into sprites, making sure that their new game looked like no other fighting game in the room... well, until devs started ripping off Mortal Kombat's look anyway.
No, don't bother scrolling down to check, I'm not trying to set up a shocking ending where I manage to triumph over adversity against all the odds, I really won't get up to Goro. Sorry.
These seven people didn't just decide to get together one day and beat the shit out of each other for no reason by the way. Nope, the FATE OF THE ENTIRE WORLD depends on the outcome of this fighting tournament, as if Earth's champions cannot win then it shall be conquered by another realm. Or maybe that was all retconned in afterwards by later games, I forget.
I've got twelve fights standing in-between myself and ultimate victory, and it seems that Kano is lucky enough to be fighting me three times. Hey does that mean if I get a Fatality on him the first time we meet I can make it easier on myself later? Didn't think so.
ROUND 1: SCORPION VS. SUB-ZERO.
They're not entirely clones though, as they have different idle animations and special moves. Oh and in case you're wondering, the actor was wearing red when they captured these two, meaning that neither of us is the true OG ninja in this fight.
Okay, so was it 'back', 'back' and then 'punch' maybe? Crap, there's two punch buttons here.
Mortal Kombat has four attack buttons: 'high punch', 'low punch, 'high kick' and 'low kick'; fairly normal for a fighting game so far. But then it goes crazy and adds a 'block' button to that as well. I have to hit a separate button to block attacks, I can't just pull backwards like in every other game, and even if I do remember to hit it and get my arms up in time I'll still take chip damage with every punch he lands on me.
Whatever, I never block anything in fighting games anyway.
The Shaolin monks in the background are nice enough to give me an animated round of applause for my epic victory, though their clapping kind of sounds like it was recorded at a snooker tournament. But this is a best of three contest, so I have to pull off another win against frosty to go through to the next round. Shouldn't be too hard though, the guy isn't even using any of his special moves.
The developers thought of this though, and added a push-back feature to shove you away once you've gotten a few hits in on a cornered opponent. The folks who ported it across to the Super Nintendo however apparently forgot to put this in, allowing SNES players to pull off a one button infinite death combo. Oops.
It was BACK BACK LOW PUNCH! I finally nailed it!
I followed up my harpoon move with an uppercut while he was stunned to send him flying across the screen, and then finished with a flying kick while he was still picking himself up off the floor. That ought to cut his health down a little I reckon.
I used to play the Amiga version of the game you see, and the thing about Amiga computers is that... well, the joysticks for them only tended to have two buttons at most, and more often than not they both did the same thing. Amiga Mortal Kombat does support proper two button joysticks, but that's still only half the controls (and no block button), so it's kind of an awkward experience even at the best of times.
Original Mortal Kombat doesn't have all those Friendships and Babalities and other things you find in the sequels though. In fact it has far less moves to keep track of per character in general. The thing that's always confused me though is... why weren't the moves for the Fatalities written in the game manual or in game? Were players honestly expected to figure them out themselves through trial and error in the three seconds you get to put the code in, then trade what they learned between friends?
"Okay I've won another fight and got the FINISH HIM message again, I'll try holding 'block', then tapping 'up', 'up', 'down' and 'HK' this time...nope, didn't work. Right, I'll finish another two rounds, get another victory, then try 'up', 'down', 'down' and 'HK'."
It's insane, that's what it is. Insane.
ROUND 2: SCORPION VS. LIU KANG.
|Mortal Kombat Kollection (PC)|
Hey look it's me in the background, they've made a statue of me! Or it could be Sub-Zero I suppose. Wait, there's only six statues back there, so one of us ninjas got snubbed and I can't tell which! I'm sorry about these blurry graphics by the way; I couldn't figure out how to make this Windows port of the game display sharp clean pixels. It seems to be using the original arcade-sized sprites though, which is a step up from the half-sized fighters from the otherwise faithful DOS version.
ROUND 3: SCORPION VS. SONYA BLADE.
|Mortal Kombat Kollection (PC)|
I couldn't find an option in game to turn off widescreen either, and decided in the end that I really couldn't be bothered. I think I was better off with the DOS port to be honest, at least for offline single player.
Well I could hammer the buttons (or waggle the stick on the Amiga port), but I don't really want to! I don't want to risk damaging my expensive hardware for a few entirely useless bonus points. It can fuck off.
ROUND 4: SCORPION VS. JOHNNY CAGE.
I mean look at this shit, he backs off into position like he's going to do something and then just hits me. It's insulting is what it is.
Okay that's it, I'm checking GameFAQs...
Well he's certainly not going to be back for Mortal Kombat II! Oh wait, actually he is in the second game, along with almost everyone else. I guess in the canon ending to the story none of the characters ever figured out how to pull off their Fatalities.
Mortal Kombat on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis actually looks and plays a lot like the arcade version, making use of six button controllers. Sure it's lower res, lower colour, and the music's not as good, but it does well with the inferior hardware. But just imagine what it could've been like without the limitations of cartridge space!
This is definitely an upgrade, but you'd have to put the cartridge and CD versions side by side to really notice the differences. The music's been recorded from the arcade cabinet, the sprites have been cleaned up a bit, there's a couple more animation frames, there's more detail in some of the backgrounds... and every fight now takes a few seconds to load. Oh, plus you don't have to put in a code to turn the blood on anymore, which makes the bloodless footage in the intro seem even weirder.
ROUND 5: SCORPION VS. KANO.
Hey wait, didn't his metal Terminator eye plate used to be on the other side of his head? That's why you gotta make your characters symmetrical if you're not planning giving them double the frames.
It's funny how the secret characters in the 2D Mortal Kombat games always seem to be palette swapped ninjas.
ROUND 6: SCORPION VS. RAIDEN.
Don't get me wrong, I love special moves; I'm just not so keen on everyone else starting to use them on me.
This interaction with the level is another thing that set the game apart from the competition at the time, as Street Fighter 2 has nothing like this in it... that I'm aware of.
The Super Nintendo version of the game has good sound, all the buttons you could want, and better colours than many of the other ports, but it's probably not the slickest of them and the sanitized gore drove a lot of gamers towards the visually inferior (but more faithful) Sega version. Who knew that the selling point of the arcade game would be a selling point for the console release?
Nintendo and Sega actually ended up taking their philosophical battle over the game all the way to a US Congressional hearing about the outrage over titles like Mortal Kombat and Night Trap. Sega was aiming for an older audience and felt that a rating system would keep games with sex, gore, violence and naughty language out of the hands of young children. Nintendo on the other hand wanted all their games to be family friendly, making a rating system redundant. Not that they were deliberately excluding adults from gaming... I mean, they still had games like Tetris to play, right?
This little controversy led to Mortal Kombat becoming the first game rated M on the new ESRB rating system. Mortal Kombat II was later released with all the gore intact on both consoles and everyone lived happily ever after. Well, until the next moral panic at least.
ROUND 7: SCORPION VS. SCORPION.
Sure it's a bit weird that he's called Scorpion and has all my moves (and is much better at using them than me), but the later games actually did this same thing as part of the story, with a second person dressing in blue and using the name Sub-Zero.
There are apparently still seven playable characters in the game, but one of them is a pain to unlock as you have to finish the game first, and the game's slow and awkward and really not much fun to play. But if you put up with it to the end and enter the code you can play as... Goro the four armed half-human dragon man! This is in fact the only port of Mortal Kombat that lets you 'be' Goro. Or so 'they' claim.
Huh, it turns out that he's been Raiden in the in the arcade games from the start and Rayden in the home ports all the way up to Mortal Kombat 4, and I've never noticed.
Speaking of ports, apparently Software Creations (the folks who brought the world Plok and Tin Star) were originally in line to produce the home versions, but they lost the contract due to drama during the development of Spider-Man and the X-Men, and ended up missing out on tens of millions of dollars. They ended up making Barbie: Vacation Adventure instead if you were wondering.
ROUND 8: ENDURANCE 1 - SCORPION VS. SUB-ZERO AND SONYA BLADE.
Still, it could be worse. The Amiga version of the game loads from floppy disks, so the player has to wait for the second fighter to load in mid-fight. Floppy disks are fine for a lot of games, but they do not go well with fighting games.
I have no idea how I put up with this when I was younger. I must have had the patience of... well, someone with nothing better to play.
|This is why you should always machine wash your Scorpion at 40°C or lower.|
Mortal Kombat is much faster, deeper and more entertaining than I remember it being, which isn't really surprisingly seeing as I'm remembering the Amiga port. I can't say if it's good, I've never gotten into fighting games enough to care about things like cancels, combos, hit boxes or blocking, but I've played enough shit fighters over the last few years to know that this ain't one of them.
It's funny how the gore was always such a huge selling point for the game, because I played the Mega Drive version for a long while before even realising that the blood was turned off. It's always a laugh to watch a guy with a cyborg eye rip an undead ninja's heart out of his chest in the heat of the moment and then find he's got nowhere to put it, but the Fatalities are really just a punchline. They're an opportunity for the winning player to feel smug because they've remembered the combination of buttons to hit and they know how far away to stand to make it work. But the core appeal of the game is the actual process of kicking the blood out of the opponent, rather than the blood itself; just like it should be.
Personally I still prefer it to Street Fighter II, and not just because I'm absolutely terrible at special moves where you have to roll the stick or d-pad around in an arc. Give me 'back, back, back, forward' over 'quarter circle forward + punch' any day. I'd be perfectly willing to concede that SF2 is a better game for higher level competitive play, if that's actually the case, but I have more fun with MK. Damn, I think I've actually talked myself into giving this fighting game a shiny golden star.