Mortal Kombat

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Mortal Kombat
Missing image
Screenshot Mortal Kombat

Developer: Midway Games
Publisher: Midway Games
Release date: 1992
Genre: Fighting
Game modes: Up to 2 players simultaneously
Cabinet: Standard
Controls: Joystick; 5 buttons
Orientation: Horizontal
Type: Raster, standard resolution (Used: 400 x 256)
Known for its brutal and bloody fatalities; Used digitized characters; So popular that two movies of the same name have been created; In the KLOV Top 100 and one of the two best games in 1992.

Mortal Kombat is a 1992 fighting game by Midway Games. It was popular because of its realistic, digitized graphics mixed with bloody and brutal action. This differentiated it from the hand drawn, more anime-like graphics of competing games like Street Fighter II.



Mortal Kombat was developed as a reaction to the popular Capcom game Street Fighter II, with simpler controls and digitized graphics. Some say the game's graphic violence was gratuitous, and was only included in order to generate a public outcry and controversy that would increase publicity for the game.

Although highly controversial, the mix of realism and violence propelled Mortal Kombat to the height of popularity. An example of the game's innovations was the Fatality, a special finishing move executed against a beaten opponent to kill them in a gruesome fashion. For example, one character would grasp a defeated, wobbling opponent by the head, then rip the head and spine out of the opponent's body, which then crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood. Such move may be performed only after two successful rounds of fighting, and generally annihilates the opposing player.

Another aspect of gameplay that became a recurring element in games that followed was the so-called juggle, where a series of moves could be executed against an opponent who was kept in mid-air by the force of the attacks, and who hence had no defense against further attacks as long as the "juggle" could be maintained.


Midway created five sequels for the arcade and home systems, each one bloodier, more brutal, and stranger than the last. Mortal Kombat 4 brought the series into 3D, replacing the digitized fighters of the previous games with polygon models, while Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was the first in the series to skip arcades altogether and go directly to consoles, a symptom of U.S. arcade market's dramatic decline. The newest installment in the series, Mortal Kombat: Deception, was released for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 platforms in October 2004 (with a Nintendo GameCube version released in February 2005). Following a gameplay style very similar to the one found on Deadly Alliance, Deception also features several new gaming modes, such as a Tetris-like puzzle and a chess game, as well as a suicidal finishing move for each character, usually performed to prevent the opponent from doing a fatality.

Finishing moves in later games included the Animality (turning into animal to violently finish off the opponent), the Brutality (decimating an opponent into pieces with a long combination of hits or combo), the Friendship (offering one's opponent a token of friendship), and the Babality (transforming the opponent into a baby). The Babality and Friendship moves were created as a jokey "non-violent" finishing move, a swipe at the US Congressional Investigation for Violence in Videogames who came down harshly on the Mortal Kombat games. Purists, fonder of the earlier style, were upset by the introduction of such finishing moves, yet Mortal Kombat's "purely violent" and dark gameplay was once again implemented after the release of Mortal Kombat 4.

Throughout the series, the game was noted for its simplicity of controls and the exotic special moves it featured.

Easter eggs and secrets

Mortal Kombat was among the first titles in the fighting game genre to include secret characters, secret games, and other Easter eggs. Mortal Kombat 3, for example, including a hidden game of Galaxian. In the 1992 original, by executing a Fatality when fighting on The Pit stage (the bridge) without taking any damage or pressing the block button in the winning round, the player could fight Reptile, a merge between the Sub-Zero and Scorpion characters. In Mortal Kombat II, Reptile would be developed into a full character with his own special moves and would be available from the outset. Carrying on in this tradition, if the player won 50 consecutive fights he/she would come face to face with the black ninja Noob Saibot, which originates from the last names of the lead designer John Tobias and lead programmer Ed Boon backwards. It was pioneering ideas like these that has made Mortal Kombat one of the most memorable of the beat 'em up genre. Another Easter egg would appear after landing a strong upper-cut against the opponent. The face of Dan Forden, a lead programmer, would appear in the lower-right corner of the screen and shout, "Toasty!". This was also a cue to enter a code to reach a secret character named Smoke.

Another Easter egg actually came about from a glitch. In the original arcade version of the first Mortal Kombat, the game would sometimes present problems due to a bug and mix two characters together. This would usually be two of the ninja characters, resulting in a ninja in a semi-red suit. The computer would display his name as "ERMAC", short for "error macro". As word spread, people thought they had found a secret character. That wasn't the case, yet in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, it was decided to make an actual Ermac character. Also, glitch characters occurred in the very rare instance of a player reaching Reptile on an endurance level (rare due to the fact that not only did one have to have the condition's set for being able to reach Reptile, but then one was required to beat two characters without being hurt or using the block button on the harder levels). Once Reptile was defeated, the second character would jump down. As Reptile used a special green colour pallette, the following fighter (a normal fighter) would be a jumble of the characters original colours plus Reptile's green colours.

However, one of the most fascinating elements of Mortal Kombat was completely unplanned and out of the programmers' hands. Following the release of Mortal Kombat II, a myth culture was created around the game. The most famous one is the Goro myth. In the first game, Goro was a four armed monster that acted as a miniboss to the game's main boss, Shang Tsung. Many fans were convinced that Goro was hidden somewhere in Mortal Kombat II and many were obsessed with finding him. The UK's GamesMaster magazine (also a popular TV Show on Channel 4) received numerous letters asking about where to find Goro. Much searching was done, both by fans and the computer game press, until in 1995 GamesMaster concluded, "We are positive Goro isn't to be found in Mortal Kombat II, we are positive he would have been found by now."

A similar non-existent hidden character was that of "Torch". In Mortal Kombat II there is a location called The Pit II. Far in the background of this stage there is another bridge across the chasm. Standing stationary on this bridge are two fighters: one of them appears to be Johnny Cage or Liu Kang. The other is a humanoid character that seems to be made of flame. As these two characters never move, it's been suggested that the "other fighter" is actually a funeral pyre. Finally, there is a cloaked figure who floats in front of the window during fights in The Tower in MK2. This character was dubbed Cloak by fans, and was assumed to be a hidden character.

The character of Torch, who had been very popular with fans, eventually showed up as a playable character in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Unfortunately, due to trademark issues, he had to be called Blaze instead of Torch. Despite Cloak's popularity with fans, he has never shown up as a fighter (playable or otherwise) in any Mortal Kombat game.


The annual Shaolin Tournament promises to be a good one. The best of the best will gather from far and wide to put their skills to the ultimate test. It seems like it will be a wonderful day of fighting.

When everyone leasts expects it, a seemly old sorcerer and a strange four-armed creature appear and corrupt the tournament. This Shokan warrior was the half-human, half-dragon fighter named Goro, who became the ultimate fighting champion by defeating the Great Kung Lao. Because this 2,000 year-old monster has been the undefeated champion for the past 500 years, he made little work of all participating fighters. This was all part of Shang Tsung's plan to tip the balance into chaos and help the Outworld conquer the Earth Realm.

However, this was going to be a bit impossible. Raiden, the thunder god, saw this and he would go and take care of Shang Tsung. However, even though he had the powers of a god, this was going to be a bit of a problem. He would need some Earth Realm-born fighters to help him out. Of course, Liu Kang would help, since it's his country's tournament. Other fighters also took part in the melee. They included martial artist/movie star Johnny Cage, Lin Kuei ninja Sub-Zero, and Shirai Ryu ninja Scorpion.

Kano, the Black Dragon's most diabolical thug, was getting chased a by a U.S. Special Forces Unit, led by Lt. Sonya Blade, when we received a vision from Shang Tsung to lure them towards his tournament. Once Kano arrives, he would have his personal army ambush them. Kano manages to get away and into the tournament, while most of the Special Forces Unit got caught in the surprise attack. So, Sonya had no choice but to take part in the tournament, in order to save her team.

Raiden would also participate in the tournament, but he would have to take the form of a human in order to do so. So, the tournament was set. With the Earth Realm already having lost 9 tournaments in a row, our heroes must avoid handing the Earth Realm its 10th loss in a row, or all of humanity will crumble to the darkness of the Outworld.

Movies and television

Mortal Kombat was adapted into two major motion pictures, Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Both had a poor critical reception at the time they were released, but the first movie was a major financial success, eventually grossing over $100,000,000 and starting the Hollywood career of Paul W. S. Anderson. A third movie is said to be in pre-production as confirmed officially, and will be released some time between 2005 and 2006.

The franchise also sparked two television series, the animated Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm and the live-action Mortal Kombat: Conquest. Neither series ran for more than one season despite the popularity of Mortal Kombat: Conquest. In 1995 an animated TV movie was released titled Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins.


From a marketing perspective, the 1993 launch of Mortal Kombat for video game consoles by Acclaim was probably the largest launch of a video game up until that time. A "Mortal Monday" television campaign featured a flood of television advertisements, which were unusual for video games at that time, and all four home versions of the game were made available for sale on the same date.

When the first game in the series was released for the SNES in North America, Nintendo of America held a strict "Family Friendly" policy towards the content of the games released on their systems, this included the removal of graphic violence, religious imagery and themes; mention of death, sexual themes, and other sensitive subjects. Henceforth, the first Mortal Kombat game on the SNES had the blood recolored gray in order to pass it off as sweat, and the various Fatality moves were graphically changed to be less gruesome. Although it was graphically superior and had better controls than the Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive version, the SNES version sold very poorly due to its sanitation of the game's violent content. After this, Nintendo began to concede on their policies, and the SNES version of Mortal Kombat II was released with the violence fully intact with a warning label on the game's packaging. Nintendo later allowed other publishers to make games with sensitive subject material following the advent of various video game content rating systems. In Japan, the game was also released for the Japanese version of the SNES, the Super Famicom.



There was also a separate game starring the character of Sub-Zero called Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. This was a platform game rather than a fighting game and is considered to be a horrible game by most of the people who have played it.

Another interesting Mortal Kombat game is Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, which is an action game that was originally supposed to star Jax and Sonya. Due to Midway cutting a lot of corners after Tobias left, Sonya wasn't in the game. Another game, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, has been confirmed.

Mortal Kombat crossovers

Mortal Kombat has also been the focus of several extremely popular game modifications, including hacks to the original Mortal Kombat PC games (MK2: Kintaro's Vulgar Version), and the integration of console artwork and audio into other game engines, including but not limited to the original Quake and Unreal engines (Mortal Kombat Quake TC).

See also

External links


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