By advent_crash 3 Comments
2011 has without a doubt been the year for Mortal Kombat. With the release of their reboot title, a popular web series, and the classic arcade collection we have seen a plethora of MK material this year and I couldn’t be more excited. Mortal Kombat was the franchise that drove me so deep into video games and is the first game I ever played in arcades. I probably pumped more quarters into the original MK cabinet than any other machine in an arcade. Spanning from 1992 to 2011 Mortal Kombat has still managed to wow its fans with every release and somehow manage to keep everyone wanting more. There have been a lot of fighting games throughout the years and next to Street Fighter Mortal Kombat has managed to stand out among its competitors as one of the best.
Mortal Kombat first burst onto the scene in 1992 and was highly controversial for its extreme level of violence. It’s easy to understand how people could be upset about a game where you can rip off your opponents head after you just finished beating them into the ground. While the violence was argued upon it didn’t stop the game from pulling in a lot of attention or keep it from winning awards. Thus a legacy was born and Mortal Kombat turned into a thriving franchise that still pushes strong today. Mortal Kombat was developed by Midway (now NetherRealm Studios) and created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Midway had previously already created some of the most memorable arcade games of their time and continued to dominate with the success of the Mortal Kombat series. With a colorful cast of characters and amazing special moves, it was not easy to forget a series such as this that only continued to improve over the years.
Mortal Kombat II and III only improved upon the franchise with introductions to new characters and game mechanics such as the ability to run and the implementation of a combo system. However after the first three games Mortal Kombat proved that it too could suffer. Mortal Kombat 4 was the series first introduction into 3D and was the least successful of the franchise to date. MK4 was also the last title to be released in arcades with the company moving onto console version with the next iterations. Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance and MK Deception improved on the 3D fighting and brought the violence to a whole new level with updated graphics and more gruesome fatalities.
One of the most interesting things to me about the MK franchise was all of the rumors that circulated about the original arcade games. Supposed secret characters or glitches that were passed around by word of mouth by kids who had sworn they knew a guy who had a friend whose brother had unlocked. Midway never turned a deaf ear to any of these rumors and in the ultimate fan service some of these characters have such been created and added into the games. Ermac and Skarlet are two examples of characters that were rumored to be glitches and were later inserted into a game.
Mortal Kombat established itself as a franchise that could move beyond the realm of video games with the release of the first movie in 1995. Being well received and in my opinion one of the best video game movies so far Mortal Kombat expanded into a television series (Mortal Kombat Conquest), cartoon (Mortal Kombat Defenders of the Realm), a horribly made sequel film (Mortal Kombat Annihilation), and in 2011 a ten episode web series (Mortal Kombat Legacy) that may possibly expand to a second season. While all of these are worth watching except the second movie the biggest downside is that the television series has not been released on DVD in the United States so getting a hold of it is pretty difficult in the States.
In between the creation of the fighting games there were other MK games developed that were trying to take the series in a new direction. MK Mythologies Sub-Zero was the first in what was supposed to be a series of MK games that would focus on singular character stories, however it was poor received and only led to one other character game based on Jax called Mortal Kombat Special Forces which performed even lower and thus canceling any more character specific games. That wasn’t the end of adventure style MK games however because 2005 saw the release of Shaolin Monks which was a retelling of MK II following the characters of Lui Kang and Kung Lao. Shaolin Monks became the most successful Mortal Kombat game that wasn’t a fighting game and went on to sell over a million copies.
While MK Deadly Alliance and Deception were still well received they still received some backlash from fans. In 2006 we saw the last release of the previous console generation with Mortal Kombat Armageddon which was the end of the MK story as it stands now and featured every character featured in an MK game up until that point and even a couple of new ones. Armageddon did well and even expanded on the story mode known as Konquest from the previous two games and allowed Mortal Kombat to have its last hoorah in the PS2 and Xbox era. It was only two years later when we finally saw the return of Mortal Kombat on the PS3 and Xbox 360 with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, a much different MK game that combined Mortal Kombat with the DC characters in a battle to save both of their worlds. It introduced new mechanics and updated the combat and was an excellent fighting game and a welcome introduction into the series with its online play.
2011 saw the most recent release in the reboot simply titled Mortal Kombat which is a retelling of the first three games. Mortal Kombat brings back the 2D fighting from the original games in a big way and pulls it off perfectly with the 3D character models. With the new game being such a success it only begs the question what is in store for the future of Mortal Kombat? It has been said that NetherRealm hopes to produce a Mortal Kombat game every year and I say bring it on. With new possibilities for games and the hopeful continuation of the web series Mortal Kombat could still be a driving force in years to come.