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Developed by Midway and released in the arcade in 1992 Mortal Kombat was the first gorey fighting game to be released into the unknown public.
Today I am going to be concentrating on the original arcade version but just as a quick follow up for all you retro home console gamers; if you don't already own this and are going to buy it opt for the Megadrive version. Ok so the music wasn’t quite as good as the SNES but because of Nintendo’s family friendly policy they removed all the blood and replaced the fatalities with less violent versions... Sacrilege! To access the full version on the Sega Megadrive with blood and pure EPIC finishers you just needed to input the code which if I remember correctly was ABACABB (yeah I got it wrong slightly I missed the last B, but after a quick Google check its correct now).
Ok back to the arcade version, the music and title screen pops up and already my heart is pumping nostalgia around my body in overly oxygenated red blood cells. I quickly drop in a couple of credits and I am greeted by the familiar faces of my childhood. 7 Characters in total; not that many really considering that the latest Mortal Kombat has over 30 (including a DLC Freddy Krueger) but 7 of the best characters that have appeared again and again in the entire franchise.
Unlike Street Fighter and many of the other big fighters at the time, Mortal Kombat had a unique way in which to perform special moves. Tapping the joystick and buttons in a precise manner would perform some special moves; the only thing that really stopped the characters from being the same. Many of the other fighters at the time had characters that completely changed with speed and strength but Mortal Kombat evened the playing field more by just having various move sets, which I thought was great.
The arcade controller was another big leap in its own direction. Mortal Kombat was the first game that I can think of that had a button just for blocking and the controls were laid out in an x shape. This gave the arcade machine a more refined personal look and feel which didn’t really port well to many of the consoles; especially the game gear and game boy with only 2 buttons to use.
Back to the arcade machine, I chose Scorpion, like you do, and was straight into fighting. Now I have played many of the Mortal Kombat games in the franchise and many of the oldschool characters moves have not really changed. Scorpions signature “get over here” and teleport punch worked great after a few minutes of working out the buttons. The fatalities on the other hand I couldn’t remember.
Back in the day the only way you could work out some of these moves and finishers was with the help of magazines (we didn’t really have the entire world of information at the click of a button back then).
I remember my dad buying me a copy of a GamesMaster magazine that had these in... If I remember correctly the first fatality I pulled off was with Kano. My dad was sat next to me at the time, about 10 minutes after handing me the magazine and I pulled out someones heart with my bare hands... I can actually remember the look on my dads face after it happened which without saying a word said “Shit I actually bought you that, I think this officially makes me a bad parent!”.
The backgrounds and levels in Mortal Kombat were simplistic but had a lot of life to them. Many of the other fighting games at the time didn’t really have the same multi layered depth so visually this was pretty damn good for the time and each stage was completely unique.
For me my favourite stage was “The Pit” as I think it gave the follow up games a direction to go in. On the pit, even if you didn’t know the fatalities you could finish your opponent in style by uppercutting them to a spikey grave! This stage fatality, as it is now known, has been replicated throughout the Mortal Kombat franchise and the second game in particular added this to many of the levels.
I give this game 10 heads on a spike out of 10! Thanks for the oldschool fun Midway!