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About
River City Retro
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Kirby's Dream Land 2

Kirby's Dream Land

What Final Fantasy used to sound like

NES conquers the world in 25 years

River City Ransom

Guilty Gear's Metal Meltdown

Time Slaughter

Alien Wars 4: How to make a proper X-COM Sequel

Alien Wars 3: How the X-COM series fell from grace

Alien Wars 2: From the depths they came

Alien Wars 1: UFO Done Properly

UFO: Enemy Unknown

Ten Games that love other games

Final Fantasy 6

Tom & Jerry

Sin... just sin

Blood... just blood

Eight Games Lost in Translation

A Gamer's Diet
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Apple Pie (It's my birthday)

Ratatouille

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Monthly Musing
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Aaamaazing: Mortal Kombat

Groundhog Day: BlazBlue

E for Effort: Becoming a World Warrior + Interview with a tournament player

Something about sex: Ten gaming couples that either should or should not do it

My Expertise: A Moustached Hero

The Future: Professional gaming

River City Ramblings
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The Starcraft 2 beta and what it means to me

New Super Mario Brothers Wii: My first impressions

Biography
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Who am I you ask? Well I guess my story starts some time around the early eighties. As my apartment had strangely gotten a lot smaller over the last months, I thought it would be a good idea to redecorate it. I was leaning back in my sofa, going through the new Ikea catalog when I was suddenly hit by a massive earthquake. As much as I tried to hold my ground, I was propelled head first into that strange tunnel at my front door. I had been wondering where that leads but never had the courage to check it out.

After a long and bumpy ride, I finally stuck my head out the other end and saw daylight. Before I had a chance to adjust to my new environment, a big man wearing some kind of a lab coat and face mask grabbed hold of me. He was a despicable man really. Not only did he cut my food supply line, he also held me upside down in the air and slapped me right on the butt! What did I ever do to him?! Just when I was about to stick it to him, my attention was averted to this tired looking lady lying on a bed nearby.

It was very strange. Do you know that feeling when you meet somebody for the first time, yet you feel like you have known each other all along? I had this feeling when I saw her. That's when it occurred to me. This woman must be my landlady and I had been neglecting my rent for a few months after all. I could understand that she was upset but still... She had no right to turn me over to that sadistic bull in his white coat! I thought that me and her were going to have a long and personal conversation but right now, I just wanted to take a shower. That tunnel I had just been through wasn't all that clean after all.

Fortunately this other lady dressed in white was a lot nicer than her butt-slapping friend. She most kindly helped me clean myself and then handed me some warm, although not very fashionable garments. She carried me over to my landlady and I prepared to negotiate the rent but instead, my landlady threw me a warm smile and pressed me against her breast so lovingly that I melted like snow to the sun. She and her equally loving husband took me to their home where they had a room prepared with a bed in exactly my size and all kinds of lovely little things to play with. It's like they had been planning to take me in all along.

I didn't quite understand the strange language both of them spoke but yet I figured out that her name was Mom and crying meant "Food please", "Hug me" and "Clean me" all at the same time. The temperature wasn't as constant as my previous home but still, this was some service! Anyway, I would wander around this place for the time being while gradually learning to speak their language. It would take seven years before I really found out what my purpose here was.

One fine morning, Mom brought me to a supermarket and I saw a little mustached guy jumping around on a TV. That was my first encounter with the Nintendo Entertainment System! This thing blew my mind in so many ways! I had heard of princesses being kidnapped by dragons before but where's the prince to save her? No, there is no prince! This time it's a fat Italian plumber with a mustache who gets to be the hero! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Power to the common man! Not only that but rather than simply hear his tale, I could actually help him in his quest. Though Mom seemed quite unimpressed, I knew I had witnessed a miracle and it would leave a mark on my life for years to come.

I'd often get into fights with Mom after that. She wanted me to go outside and play with my friends but what did she know? After all, all of my friends were living in similar warm nests, receiving the same service from two other persons who were somehow all named Mom and Dad. No, my purpose in life was bigger than that. As much fun as playing with my friends was, If I did that then who would save princess Peach, liberate the kingdom of Hyrule and smite the evil king Dedede? I just couldn't ignore the sorrow of the weak!

It wasn't until another seven years or so that I would see what a fool I had been. Up until now, I had been carrying the weight of the world on my own shoulders while completely ignoring the help others could have offered. I was determined to never close my eyes to the value of friendship again! Especially in these dark times. I was barely finished helping Dr. Freeman escape the resonance cascade alive when bands of terrorists attacked and dragged his scientist colleagues off to cs_assault. This was too much for just me to handle. This time I needed help!

Anyone who doesn't believe in the kindness of strangers is a moron. I mean sure, strangers aren't always nice. I've been told that I SuX0rz and have been called a n00b a million times but even then, it's worth it. As it so happens, it were these very strangers that padded me on the back and reassuringly shouted "Lock and Load!" before we stormed the big garage and got every single scientist out while making a fair buck in the process. Unfortunately our happiness was short lived as a new batch of terrorists arrived and we were right back where we started. Rather than sigh over the shortness of our victory, we bought ourselves a new pack of heavy guns and rushed in once more. No matter how many times the terrorists came back, we'd bring them to justice!

Time went on and the terrorists got more and more violent. Now they didn't only take hostages any more but also planted bombs and tried to assassinate seemingly random VIPs. Our combined efforts were no longer enough. We needed more coordination. We needed a plan! We had to Look at the map and devise a clever strategy. As much as I tried this, people were joining and leaving our counter-terrorist squad with every tick of the clock. Some of them even switched sides to join the terrorists. I engaged in conversation with several of the better fighters. We decided to join together regularly and learn how to fight as one. You could even go as far as to call us a counter-strike clan! For years we battled the forces of evil and shed much blood until I finally left the front as I heard of another land in need.

So many years ago I had liberated the town of Tristram from Diablo, the lord of terror. The hero I helped out at the time had drilled the dark lord's soul stone right into his own forehead. What an idiot! Needless to say, Diablo soon overpowered this weak excuse for a savior and continued to live on, inhabiting the former hero's body. "Man", I thought. "I've gone through all of this before, I'm not doing it again or at least... Not alone!" Fortunately my plea for help didn't leave me waiting as several friends showed up and we entered a new clan to smite that demon once and for all! After taking care of business in the chaos sanctuary, laying waste to Baal, the lord of destruction and even single handedly obliterating several acres of murderous cows, it was time to put my swords and bows to rest once more.

Since that time, my clan based activity has settled down and I remain to fight on the side of good with smaller bands of friends while every now and then fondly remembering those good old days. Most of all, I tend to leave the real action up to others as I watch from the sidelines. Especially a Korean man named Jaedong shows particular excellence in leading the Zerg to victory against the evil Protoss at general Bisu's command and admiral Flash' corrupted Terran whom I wish all to be infested for greater good.

I thank you for taking the time to read about my life. Perhaps our paths may once cross in the endless online battlefields and until then, luck be with you.
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Aah Mortal Kombat. A true phenomenon of its time. While we were just getting the hang of the fighting genre that Street Fighter II introduced, this thing hit us like a battering ram. We all know what the deal was. Violence. And lots of it. Everybody old enough to remember MK's prime, still knows exactly when and where they saw their first fatality.

But is that really the only reason why we loved it so much? Yes, of course that is a big part of it but then again, what about all those other violent fighting games out there. What about Bloodstorm? That one actually let you cut off limbs and continue the fight without them. What about Time Slaughter? That one actually had a guy rip your guts out and play them like a bagpipe. Why don't we remember those games?

I know what you're thinking. They were just doing what Mortal Kombat had already done better. But what exactly is it that MK did better? It's not that it was more violent and we can't say it had an awfully deep fighting engine either. The answer is one that not many hardcore fighting game fans are willing to admit. Mortal Kombat did have more to it than than violence.

There's something entrancing about playing Mortal Kombat in a dark room all by yourself. The Chinese looking locales and the dark eery music. It all draws you in. Really makes you feel like you are a warrior in an ancient sacred tournament. When I play Mortal Kombat, I envision the characters as mercyless but humble martial artists that place honour above their own lives. I know this isn't exactly the game's canon, but this is how it speaks to my imagination. I always compared the way they lay down their lives for the martial arts to the samurai in ancient Japan committing seppuku to preserve their honour. The fact that these executions were so incredibly brutal... Well, that was just pretty fucking cool. This immediately brings me to the next chapter.

The Pit



This is without a doubt the most famous stage in the entire Mortal Kombat saga. Up until now, you were mostly fighting around beautiful Chinese scenery or in front of monks that politely applauded your victory. This time however, you're standing on a narrow concrete ledge. A full moon shines brightly through the clouded night sky. The music consists of eery dark base lines. Something feels different. This isn't going to end well. Seeing these two warriors balance on that tiny ledge while performing their craft manifested in my imagination as the pinnacle of discipline and honour.

FINISH HIM! The fight is over and you move in for that last devastating uppercut that would normally have your opponent crash into the concrete with a sickening thud. There is no thud this time. Instead there is a terrifying scream while your unfortunate opponent drops several meters deep and blood flies everywhere as he is impaled on the razorsharp knives below.

Sure, first person shooters nowadays show us much more graphic violence but somehow they just don't have the same impact as being knocked off a bridge and into these spikes. I compare it to the impact of old horror movies. Take Dracula for instance. The 1930 film starring Bela Legosi didn't have one drop of blood in it but that stare in Legosi's eyes sets a mood that many modern horror flicks can only dream of. Through the course of the MK series, the pit has gotten many spinoffs. Let's take a look at some of them.

MK2: The Kombat Tomb



Let me first explain what I mean by a pit spinoff. For me, the pit was all about impalement. The official "sequels" all involved a bridge with certain death below but without the spikes, they paled in comparison. I was much more fond of the Kombat Tomb's twist on it. This time the spikes were suspended on the ceiling and with one swift uppercut, your opponent is firmly entrenched in them while his blood drops to the floor. Man, that was brutal. It was the original pit that got my coin in the machine, but it was the Kombat Tomb that sold me a cartridge!

MK3: The Bell Tower



You get uppercutted in the air and fall through a dozen floors before finally feeling the spikes pierce your body. Lame! Just lame. It is at this point, the third game in the series, when fatalities just started to get too gimmicky. Take Reptile for instance. Let's look at the same fatality in Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Awesome! Silly.

It feels like they had kinda done it all and desperately tried to push further. This worked against them. Fatalities don't need to be original. They're all about impact. Reptile just biting off the head and obviously enjoying it has so much more impact than eating the body piece by piece. Not to mention how his victim still manages to scream besides having nothing but a lower body left.

MK4: Game Over



Yes, after the second one, MK did start to get more silly but some times they still got it just right. Man, this one is just haunting. You fall and fall while the music pierces every fiber in your body. Quickly find that coin in your wallet and press start or a horrible death awaits! Seriously, I've heard about people getting nightmares from Mortal Kombat 4's game over screen.

MKD: Dragon King Temple



Ahh Mortal Kombat: Deception. I some times feel like I'm the only person on the planet who actually liked this generation of Mortal Kombat games. People want MK to play like it did in the old days. I get it. But really now, is a simple set of the same high and low attacks for every character really so much better than 3 unique fighting styles to dynamically switch on the fly? Sure, we still had a stiff dial-a-combo engine but at least I thought this was a step in the right direction.

Besides, the graphics were awesome. Scorpion looked the best he ever did and blood actually dripped down from your limbs. As for the fatalities... There were still a few silly ones here and there but most of them hit the nail right on the head. Just look at this death trap in the Dragon King Temple. Oh yeah, that is fierce!

I think I'm going to get some strong opinions for this but I'm just going to come out and say it. I'm sad that this new MK is a reboot to the 2d roots. It's time for the series to break out of its identity crisis . Look at Street Fighter or King of Fighters or any other fighting series. Their characters all have their staple set of normal moves that are only slightly tweaked between every game. I wished Mortal Kombat would follow this trend instead of rebooting the normals every other game.

I guess I just have to face that this is something Mortal Kombat will never be. Their fighters are made unique by their special moves and fatalities. I'm definitely going to give Mortal Kombat 9 a chance and I bet I'm going to enjoy it quite a bit. I just don't know if I'll enjoy it as much as I did Deception. Either way I'll keep playing BlazBlue for my competitive fighting fix and I'll keep MK ready for whenever I feel like ripping some spines out.

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