RETRO REVIEW: Mortal Kombat
Through the use of digitized sprites based on actual actors, Mortal Kombat instantly became a classic for its sheer sense of individuality. This, combined with blood and controversy made for a must-play among any gamer.
Note: this review is based on the Mega Drive version.
Heavily contributing to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Mortal Kombat didn’t hold back any punches when it came to its violent and often very graphic content. Sure, it doesn’t seem that bad in today’s world of gaming, but go back to the early ’90s and this was sort of a big deal.
With the amount of uproar surrounding Mortal Kombat, it made a lot of people want to get in on the action, myself included. I would have been around four years old, and Scorpion actually scared me a little – this either shows I was a massive wuss or he just came across as this menacing entity. Or both.
Consisting of seven fighters to choose from, Mortal Kombat managed to make each character that much more memorable than those from other fighting games at the time, at least in my opinion. You had the likes of Sub-Zero, an illustratively striking warrior who could freeze enemies, leaving them open for a deadly uppercut. On the other hand, there was Raiden, also known as the God of thunder. You could play as an actual God, and that was amazing.
Other fighters include the iconic Liu Kang, alongside Kano, Sonya, Scorpion, and the obnoxiously annoying Johnny Cage. Each have their own unique special moves and such as well as fatalities, which at the time were either figured out by accident or a friend knew the button combinations. You couldn’t simply Google back then.
Fatalities were an amazing thing to pull off, whether it be Kano ripping out the heart of his opponent, or Sub Zero casually pulling off someone’s head, complete with their spinal chord – my personal favourite. These are still incredibly fun to pull off today, and I’m not talking about heads. That would be strange.
Aside the fighters, each stage would bring the world of Mortal Kombat to life in a spectacular manner. Battling out on The Pit still sticks in my mind as one of the most memorable stages of all time. Being able to hit your opponent off the edge into a bed of spikes below was highly satisfying, and still is.
The stages are so detailed, especially Goro’s Lair – an underground dungeon that represents the gruesome and violent nature of Goro, a four-armed freak who would also act as one of the bosses in the game. His lair is literally filled with the remains of his victims, such as bones and hanging skeletons from the roof.
Whilst the gameplay is mediocre at its core, the real appeal of Mortal Kombat does rely on its style, rich atmosphere, and a cast of fighters that are sure to leave an impression on you. Compared to the likes of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat isn’t the best game to play competitively or in a tournament environment, but it sure is a lot of fun and well worth your time.
Worth Playing Today: You’d be daft not to.
Available On: Arcade, SNES, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Game Boy, Sega CD/Mega- CD, Amiga, Mobile, MS-DOS
Released: 1992, Arcade