Mortal Kombat has gone from the murky corners of bowling alley arcades to a 4K, AAA release throughout 24 games in its main series, causing criticism for its forbidden content along the way.
A 2D arcade version of Mortal Kombat debuted in 1992. The era’s kids were enamored with mythical monsters and powers. Mortal Kombat provided backstory and narrative to its mystical, multi-dimensional world that immediately won it a cult following at the time Street Fighter II was the most popular fighting game.
Deathmatch was originally intended to promote Hollywood martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme’s previous year’s film Double Impact.
“So the mythology behind Mortal Kombat was kind of already in development even before we talked with Van Damme, and when he ended up not being involved, we just kind of marched ahead,” series co-creator John Tobias told Polygon.
This meant that he could either play himself or a character in the game’s fiction; either way, he was going to be involved.” In the end, his persona evolved into Johnny Cage.
As a result, Tobias didn’t expect the plot to be so popular with the public. Players were obsessed with the artist bios and any other material they could get their hands on because arcade games were often short on story.
In one of our test settings, “we strolled into an arcade and the players weren’t playing the game,” Tobias said. ” “They were standing around the game not letting anyone play because they were letting the attract mode play through and they were reading the bios of the characters.
This led us to wonder if our players weren’t actually engaged in gameplay but were instead attempting to read the bios in “attract mode,” which we thought was a bad sign. Tokens are not being put into the machine by those that do this.'”
This meant that the first several games were more concerned with dropping hints about plots and subplots in the backstories of its protagonists rather than creating full-blown narratives. Outlandish “what-ifs” were performed for characters who couldn’t win the tournaments. Tobias, on the other hand, didn’t realize that he was establishing a franchise.
It was important for Tobias to keep in mind the environment, the concept, the high-level idea, each character’s distinct story, and how, even when the player looks at them, only in their head they’re able to fill in the gaps,” he said.
Mortal Kombat II, released in 1993, featured more brutal deaths for each of the game’s characters, putting it in the hot seat when it came to content censorship.
Herb Kohl and Joe Lieberman of the Democratic Party convened a congressional hearing on video gaming in 1993. Video games, like movies, are subject to censorship, which can be disastrous for a new franchise. However, it can also lead to great success.
It was “Mortal Monday” on September 13, 1993, when the game sold two million copies in record time as children went to the stores by the hundreds. However, at this point, the game’s deaths had begun to stray into Itchy and Scratchy territory, although the devs were well aware of this and had even begun to mock themselves in-game.
‘Babalities’ and ‘Friendships’ were introduced for those who intended to transform their opponents into infants.
Censored versions of the game were also made for Japan in 1994, with green blood and black-and-white fatality scenes instead of red. This increased the game’s appeal to children.
Mortal Kombat had already made four profitable arcade games by the time it made the switch to consoles in 1996, and the public’s interest in the franchise had grown to critical mass.
Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat sank into relative oblivion because of their focus on violence against innocent bystanders. Several attempts were made over the next four years to revive the series, but they all failed and the developer changed ownership.
Mortal Kombat made a spectacular comeback in 2011 with improved graphics and gruesome gore. Mortal Kombat X, which was released in April, is largely regarded as the best Mortal Kombat game of all time and the game that restored the series to its roots. Competitive gameplay that can stand up to any Tekken or Street Fighter game.
The reworked gore mechanics once again drew attention to the genre, resulting in greater controversy than ever before. This just served to improve the game.
Modern Mortal Kombat
The series is now regarded as one of the most beloved and well-remembered in gaming history. After starting as a chance to ride on the bandwagon of a new genre, Mortal Kombat has gone on to set more trends than it has influenced.
After Mortal Kombat 11’s debut in 2019, the series was firmly established as one of the best in the business.
After working on the game for a long amount of time, Mortal Kombat 11 creators were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Several workers said they were unable to sleep because of their disturbing nightmares. Developers have received a lot of criticism for not ensuring that their employees’ health was properly protected.
Mortal Kombat, on the other hand, is one of the most enduring fighting game franchises, charting not only the history of the genre but of gaming as a whole. Mortal Kombat has been there for as long as kids had nightmares, from the old arcade to the Genesis, Playstation 1, and now 4K systems.