There’s something so nostalgic about being a 90’s kid; you remember what the internet looked like before social media, Blockbuster was the original Netflix, Nintendo and SEGA were trying to out-due each other during the console wars, and 90’s fighting games were all the rage! There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t remember asking my mom to drop me and my friends off at the arcade, to play all the arcade fighters that came out during this decade. Street Fighter, Tekken, Marvel vs. Capcom, you name it! Back then I wasn’t just about Nintendo and Super Mario Bros. during my childhood, I liked fighting games too. It really wasn’t until about 1998 that I found myself playing a fighting game that…seemed to hit different. It felt like a fighting game from another world; no, another realm. What my 9-year-old mind didn’t realize at the time I was playing it, was the fact that I had found a game that was going to have one of the most iconic lines in its 30 year history…
MORTAL KOMBAT!!! (Turns 30)
Mortal Kombat is like that edgy 90’s high school kid that you didn’t wanna mess with; and that goth and emo girls were lovestruck over. It is one of the first games that I would find myself playing more of later down the road, and also watching “fatality reels” of on Youtube. The ‘tweens’ of my generation couldn’t get enough of this game (many of which still play it to this very day); not because of the fighting, but because of the Fatalities! When you’re a teenager in the 90’s who got bullied a lot, this is where you’d take out your frustration – and set Johnny Cage on fire as Scorpion (pretending it was you who set his/her bully on fire as the hellspawn ninja).
If you haven’t noticed by now this franchise is widely known to be the most violent and gory when it comes to finishing moves. Back in the 90’s you’d have this ‘Konami Code’ sequence of buttons and directions of where you have to tap on your controller, and because there was no cheat code you could use (not even in the game manual), you’d have to know what you’re doing by memory – and remember how to do it during your next fight. To this very day its hard to believe that this game only had four people working on it, and in 30 years its still delivering banger, after banger, after banger, after banger, AFTER BANGER!
After the success of the first game, Mortal Kombat went on to become more than just a bloody fighter; it became a worldwide phenomenon. It got so big that Hollywood wanted to make a live-action adaptation of it; while it may seem cheesy and ‘mid’ by today’s standards (and Gen Z’ers), at the time when the movie came out in 1995, it was the coolest thing I ever saw! (Although I didn’t get the chance to watch it until my 9th birthday.) The gameplay and the fatalities weren’t the only reason Mortal Kombat was so cool, during the time it came out; it was criticized by politicians who thought the game was ‘too violent’ and ‘too gory’, and tried to get it banned from being purchased or played.
In fact let me raise you up one; Mortal Kombat is the reason WHY the ESRB rating on video games exists, and could be considered as the first M-rated series ever created. Despite the fact that it got banned in several countries (even to this very day), Mortal Kombat as a whole is one of the most successful fighting game franchises out there with 73 million units sold; and counting. Oddly enough the original Mortal Kombat (the 1992 version) was released by both Nintendo and SEGA; and guess which one everyone ended up playing more of…SEEEGAAA!!
Mortal Kombat walked into our lives and spiced things up; thanks to co-creator Ed Boone, along with John Tobias. While other games were playing it safe Mortal Kombat pushed the envelope past the ‘taboo territory’ and thus created the ESRB we know today. It might even be the reason why you have your Grand Theft Auto’s, your Resident Evil’s, and all of the other games with blood in them. Sure, it was hated by congressmen and politicians during the time it came out, but on the flipside Mortal Kombat became more than just a media franchise. Now you can go to any anime or gaming convention and find a section where Mortal Kombat X, or 11 is being played; in fact there is STILL cosplay of it to be found 30 years later! Like Mario and Sonic, Mortal Kombat has some serious staying power!
Although I only played the first four games from 1998-2006, I can see why MK has such a dedicated fanbase to it. The finishing moves are the best part about the game; not the story (even though its serviceable in some parts), or the character roster (Ultimate MK3 had the BEST roster), but the Fatalities! Many have wondered what Ed Boone would do now that the franchise as a whole is celebrating its 30th anniversary; would there be an announcement of MK12? Or perhaps a sequel to the 2021 live-action reboot? Also, the music. Yeah, the music slapped SO HARD back then, and STILL DOES to this day! You can’t tell me the dance remix doesn’t make you feel something; being though its jam-packed with that 90’s acid-techno flavor, that has been heard at various underground raves of the 90’s. If I had to rate the franchise as a whole, I’d give it a 4.7 out of 5 Stars (94% out of 100%). If you’re already familiar with Tekken and Street Fighter, go play any of the Mortal Kombat games (even the classic ones), and go nuts!
That’s my review, now here’s the opening theme to Mortal Kombat! Happy 30th anniversary! 😉