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Metallion avatar 7:29 AM on 04.06.2011  (server time)
Aaamaazing: Mortal Kombat

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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