Thursday, May 4, 2023

Arcade Fighting Game Review: Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat was an influential arcade fighting video game by Midway Games that took elements of previous fighting games and put its own spin on things to create something uniquely its own.

Like most arcade fighting games, the plot of the game was simple. Many fighters compete to become the champion of the Mortal Kombat tournament. The playable characters included the sunglasses-wearing Johnny Cage, ninjas Scorpion and Sub-Zero, the cyborg Kano, the lightning god Raiden, the spandex-clad Sonya, and the Bruce Lee-inspired Liu Kang. Once all of these fighters are defeated, two boss fights await. Goro is a four-armed behemoth, and Shang Tsung can take on the form of any and all of the fighters in the tournament.

Mortal Kombat set itself apart from the competition by having realistically depicted backgrounds and characters for the time. The characters were created using live-action actors who performed the various fighting moves which were then digitized into the game. The one exception is Goro, who had a monster-like appearance that was accomplished via stop-motion animation. The game was also famous for its over-the-top gore, as hits would spill copious amounts of blood, some stages contained elements that would impale fighters, and special codes could be entered to finish fighters with a gory finishing move. This game, along with other games from the time such as Night Trap, were the subjects of congressional hearings in the United States that led to voluntary video game ratings which still appear, albeit from a different rating board, on video game boxes today.

The voices are iconic, from the deep tones of the announcer to the grunts and screams of the various fighters. They are a big part of what made the game memorable. The music is also fantastic, and the remixed dance-style track from the Sega CD version is still used today, especially as memes on streaming sites.

Mortal Kombat is a great game that is still fun to play today. While its small amount of characters makes it not as re-playable as Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, it is still a blast to play. The voiceovers, music, and over-the-top violence that looks rather tame today are a big part of what shaped the culture of the 1990s in the United States. It's worth playing at least once, to see where many of today's fighters got their inspiration.

Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5

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