Happy 20th birthday, Mortal Kombat! Let’s celebrate with kake and a retrospective!

7 min read
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FINISH THIS KAKE!

Twenty years ago, opportunistic politicians around the world received a strange buzzing sense in their head, as a certain game was released, triggering their spider-sense. Concerned mothers headed for the hills, while young kids walked into an arcade, and were greeted with then revolutionary graphics, and more gore than the history of violent cinema combined.

Mortal Kombat had arrived.

It’s the twentieth anniversary of the Ed Boon and John Tobias creation, and to celebrate, we’re going to take a look at each and every single game, released since then.

Mortal Kombat (1992)

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The original spine-ripper, a fighting game with simple mechanics, and the added gore mechanic that captured and ripped out the heart of a generation. It’s been ported onto every single console imaginable since the original release, much to the chagrin of many an anti-video games group.

Mortal Kombat 2 (1993)

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More fighters, more blood, and more palette swaps,as the Mortal Kombat tournament heated up. Animations were more fluid, fatalities were even more brutal, and hilarious friendships were added into the mix, for one of the finest sequels ever made.

Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

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How do you make one of the greatest sequels ever made, even better? Slap on more features, streamline the combat and create a game that was as close to retro fighting perfection as possible.

Brutalities, Animalities and Mercy gestures made their first appearance here, amongst an army of brawlers, before the Ultimate trilogy version saw a re-release of the game.

Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)

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Jumping from 2D into 3D, the fourth tournament for the fate of the earth, while not perfect, was notable for introducing even more elements, such as weapons, while further developing the mythos of the franchise.

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997)

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Not every great game, is ripe for a spin-off. That unfortunately, was the idea behind this Sub Zero starring adventure, which took the frosty ninja out of the arena, and pitted him against entire levels of enemies in this side-scrolling adventure, that was peppered with cheesy acting and control issues.

Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (2000)

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KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance (2002)

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The first real, successful overhaul of the franchise, Mortal Kombat was reborn, when series villains Quan Chi and Shang Tsung teamed up to wreak havoc on the realms. Fluid, balanced and superb, the idea of giving characters individual martial arts with which to battle each other, proved to be a genius move, and elevated this title into fighting game heaven, once again making the series a relevant contender.

Mortal Kombat Deception (2004)

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More of the same essentially, but tweaked and tuned even further, with an entire realm of extras thrown into the mix. Konquest mode also reared its ugly head, creating an unpredictable adventure mode that was crawling with terrible voice acting.

Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks (2005)

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A two-player co-op, God of War clone, this was the spin-off that fans had been waiting for. Filling in the events between the first and second game, players took on the role of either Kung Lao or Liu Kang, as they battled their way through hordes of foes and familiar characters.

Mortal Kombat Armageddon (2007)

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Officially losing the plot here, this was the Mortal Kombat game that had obviously been snorting lines of coke. Throwing every fighter into the mix, including a kitchen sink themed one, the chronologically final chapter in the MK saga, players at last had an opportunity to design their own kombatant, as well as their own kustom fatality and storyline.

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008)

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Ever wondered if Batman could beat Scorpion in a fight? Neither did we, but apparently, this game existed to answer that question. The first current generation Mortal Kombat game, MKvDCU was received with a lukewarm reception, even though it looked fantastic and had several great gameplay ideas present.

Ultimately, the lack of any real gore or brutality hurt this game, alienating veteran fans.

Mortal Kombat (2011)

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Mortal Kombat was once again in need of some resuscitation, and that’s where this reboot came in. Transferring the iconic fast and furious gameplay of the original games, but enhanced with 2.5D visuals and ideas, made popular by Street Fighter 4, no doubt, the ninth core Mortal Kombat game was a smash hit, and a serious contender for several awards, that it deservedly won, later in the year.

Other media

Hey, the saga didn’t end there! Like any successful franchise, Mortal Kombat just could not wait to whore itself out into other media. Some of those new ventures were horrible, while others… Wait, almost ALL of them were terrible.

We do apologise if this next piece of content stirs up any unnecessary mental trauma.

Mortal Kombat (1995 Film)

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A guilty pleasure of mine (look out for that, later today on TheMovies), this was one of the few decent video game films ever made. Accurate, fun and packed with extra nods to the fans, anyone who was anyone, was watching this film and practicing split nut-punches 90 minutes later.

Mortal Kombat Annihilation (1997 film)

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This is essentially the celluloid equivalent of Special Forces. So once again, KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1996 Cartoon TV Series)

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On one hand, you have the most violent game of its time, attempting to transition into family friendly animated entertainment. Could such an idea work? Consider Defenders of the Realm as a 13 episode experiment as to why that was met with a definitive and resounding “NO”.

Mortal Kombat Konquest (1998 TV Series)

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If Defenders of the Realm was one bad joke, delivered in 21 minute segments, then Konquest was the live action equivalent of a dead horse being beaten. Part cheesy action, part Baywatch for some unknown reason, the only redeeming factor that this TV show had, was when it threw in the towel and decided to murder the entire main cast in the final episode.

Mortal Kombat Rebirth (2010 short film)

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Some fans don’t know when to quit. That’s the case with Kevin Tancharoen, as the director actually financed his own MK short film, albeit one that had a more realistic bend to it, resulting in a cult favourite, that the fans thanked him for.

The reception was so overhwhelming in fact, that Tancharoen was given the budget to continue his ideas, in the form of…

Mortal Kombat Legacy (2011 Web Series)

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Continuing the real world idea that Tancharoen had pitched, Legacy was a 9 episode production that was released to tie in with the new game, setting the stage for new iterations of old characters to once again do battle.

Although it dragged in the middle, the pace quickly picked up again, when a certain Thunder God and some elemental shinobi appeared, resulting in a popular series, that left several dangling plot-lines, threads which might not ever be resolved, as Tancharoen’s successful pitch has now earned him a deal to once again remake the Mortal Kombat cinematic universe, albeit it with a larger budget.

Let’s just hope that this project, doesn’t dwell too long in the netherworld that is development hell.

Mortal Kombat: Live Tour (1995)

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Yes, there was once a Mortal Kombat live stage show, complete with music, dancing and fighting and MY BRAIN, IT HURRRRTTTSSSS NOOOW!

Well, that’s twenty years of Mortal Kombat history right there. Who knows what the next twenty will bring? Meanwhile, I’ve dug an old friend out of retirement, for a little retro action tonight.

 

 

Last Updated: May 23, 2012

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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