Review by ffmasterjose
All great dynasties start small. Mortal Kombat was no different. What began as Midway's answer to Capcom's highly popular Street Fighter series soon evolved into something greater, something with it's own distinct, signature charisma. Not too many games can claim the fame that Mortal Kombat has. It was solely responsible for the founding of today's Entertainment Software Ratings Board (more commonly known and abbreviated as ESRB to most). Soccer moms hated it, but everyone else loved it and continued to pour their quarters in one after another. So it is no surprise that when it was brought to home systems it was well-received.
You have seven fighters to select from - Johnny Cage, Kano, Rayden, Liu Kang, Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Sonya. Whomever you prefer, you battle every single other Kombatant (including yourself) then face the mighty Goro and eventually, Shang Tsung himself. The concept is simple but that's what made Mortal Kombat so fun. It is very universally friendly. Even if you have never played a fighting game before you can pick this game up, learn the very basic moves that each character has, and take your fighter through the tournament. Each one has a few of their own special moves not available to anyone (Sub-Zero can freeze, Liu Kang can launch fire balls) as well as their own signature Fatality move. Fatalities are finishing moves that a Kombatant uses to not only finish off their opponent, but kill them. The Fatality moves were a vital part of Mortal Kombat's fame (and at the same time, controversy). They were a first for the fighting game genre, and they take their root in this game.
The storyline of Mortal Kombat is something else that it's known for. The tournament of Mortal Kombat is held once every generation. Earthrealm's best fighters gather on Shang Tsung's island to fight for the protection of Earth. Shang Tsung and his minions need ten straight victories in Mortal Kombat (as set down by the Elder Gods) in order to enter Earthrealm and conquer it. As it just so happens our heroes are involved in the tenth tournament. Thus our salvation rests in the hands of a few scattered individuals. This is the ultimate test of human strength and endurance. Each Kombatant has an ending that may or may not have happened in the storyline of Mortal Kombat - it's never revealed until the next game who exactly lives and dies, or what events actually did happen. But this is where it all started, the initial fight for our salvation against the demons of Outworld. Now granted not too many will play Mortal Kombat for it's storyline, at least the game isn't just mindless killing of one another. It does serve a purpose.
Visually, Mortal Kombat is known for using digitized actors and motion capture to record every single movement in the game. Mortal Kombat is one of the first few games to utilize this method, and helped to popularize it during the early to late 90's. From the falls, to the sweep animations, it was all precisely staged to give the fighters a more "real" look and feel, compared to the cartoonish animations of other fighting games at the time. The Fatality animations still look gruesome to this day despite being outdated by their predecessors. The level designs have small but precise detail that the average player may not catch at first. The music of Mortal Kombat isn't anything too terribly impressive. But it serves to keep you interested in what's going on while you play. The grunts and screams of the game also add a realistic element to the game.
How long the game lasts depends entirely on how much you put into it. Given that it's on a home system such as the Sega Genesis you don't have to worry about dropping quarters in to keep playing after you've been killed. Taking each character through the main arcade mode is fun enough, given the game progresses in difficulty, almost to the point where it is impossible to land a hit on your opponent. If you play with a friend or sibling the game is even more unpredictable, and even that much more enjoyable. It can last from an hour to over four hours at a time.
My final recommendation is simple - if you have never experienced Mortal Kombat before there is no better place to start than at the original installment of the game, especially if you have yourself an old Sega Genesis and are looking for some fun games to play. Granted you're only going to find it in places like pawn shops or collector outlets, it's there. And even if you have played Mortal Kombat before what better reason do you have than to not give it another go? It is a classic and the first few steps of a great franchise.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/08, Updated 05/16/08
Game Release: Mortal Kombat (US, 09/13/93)
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