19 Apr

When it came down to it, back in the 90’s you were either Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat; there was no middle ground. The era had a lot of divisions going on—Coke/Pepsi, Nintendo/Sega,  Nike/Reebok—on the one hand  the refined classic, and on the other the edgy upstart. For whatever reason, the refined classic tended to be “red” while the upstart was “blue.”

There was never really much question which franchise I preferred; I was a Mortal Kombat guy through and through. From the first time I saw someone playing the game at Aladdin’s Castle in Bloomington’s College Mall, I was hooked. I remember witnessing:

  • Johnny Cage uppercutting someone onto the spikes in the pit
  • Kano ripping out Johnny Cage’s Heart
  • Sub-Zero tearing out someone’s spinal cord
  • Goro

That was pretty much all I needed. The digitized actors, the claymation, the gouts of ketchupy blood… who needed precision balancing and deep combo-sets when you had all that? I liked the comparative simplicity of the gameplay, like… I always liked the “uppercut” move. With a simple combination button press, I could launch my enemy across the screen and knock away a sizable chunk of health at the same time.

I wasn’t allowed to have any set-top consoles growing up, so the only way I got to play the game was either over at one of my friends’ houses or, eventually, on my Sega Game Gear (I was allowed to have portable systems). I remember when the Game Gear port was finally released. I had pre-ordered, so I went to the Software Etc. (also in College Mall), picked up the tiny box, plugged it in and played and played.

I’m still surprised at how great the portable version was; surprisingly little was lost in the translation. And the Fatalities, oh, man. That was the whole reason you played, just to get to that final moment when you could frantically press buttons in hopes of pulling off a particularly gross finishing move.

My sweet collector’s edition of the game just arrived, and I’ll be doing a review for Paste soon. In the meantime, some fellow Kill Screen writers and I wrote up a bunch of half-serious “reviews”of the new fatalities, based on videos we watched. I got to do some really good ones, though my favorite was Mileena’s:

She sensually saunters over, laying her hands upon his cheeks and gently turning him to face her. It’s a quiet, intimate moment, almost shocking in its immediacy. Conquered and conqueror, their eyes nearly meeting—in another lifetime, in an entirely different kind of game, this could melt into a romantic embrace. But … no. Mileena tears his head from his body, stepping into the spotlight and removing her mask. With her true visage revealed, she lowers her horrid maw and feasts upon the severed face of her foe, throwing the remains to the ground and moaning in blood-soaked ecstasy.

Also I use the phrase “cursed with the fang-laden mouth of a Lovecraftian fish-monster.” The whole thing is pretty funny and gross; go give it a read.

With the intense amount of great games I’ve got to play, I’m beginning to wonder about how I’ll get through them all. When it rains, it pours. Sometimes it pours blood.


3 Responses to “Fatality”

  1. Switchbreak April 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I was always in the Mortal Kombat camp as well. There was a kind of flashiness to that game that went beyond graphics or the crazy fatalities and went into everything about how the players acted. They would throw nets on each other, zip off one side of the screen and show up on the other, or freeze each other into statues. It was Bugs Bunny shit, really, behind all the 90s death metal veneer. That’s why my favorite fatality was always Liu Kang making an arcade machine drop out of nowhere onto the other guy’s head.

  2. Jessica June 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Middle Ground = Me, 15 years old = X-Band = KILLER INSTINCT

    Although I’ve always been a Mortal Kombat gal myself, I have to admit that some of my best fighting game moments came from cheesing people in corners as Cinder in a move that Wikipedia calls “easily abused”.

    • Kirk June 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      Heh yeah, I definitely always liked the cheap moves in MK. Dunno why… it’s not the kind of thing I would like if I were, say, betting on the game or playing competitively. But for some reason the fact that I could spam certain attacks and work out a good rhythm always made me like Mortal Kombat even more!

      Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’m utter shit at fighting games… heh.

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