Mortal Kombat - Finish Him!
I have fond memories of the original Mortal Kombat game. Upon its release for consoles in 1992, I promptly purchased the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version, as this version featured all the fatality moves in their full and uncensored glory (The SNES version did not). I spent hours trying to learn the various key combinations to unlock the death blows. Often whenever the game uttered the phrase "Finish him" I would descend into a panic driven frenzy of random button mashing, in the pious hope that I would unleash the torrent of extreme violence that the game was so vilified for. Sadly, even at such a young age my reactions were still lousy, and my “technique” seldom worked. On the few occasions that it did it was a major cause of celebration. Bearing all this in mind, I recently I acquired Mortal Kombat XL for PC from a discount internet key seller. At the time of writing this post, you can pick up this version of the game for as little as £10.53 which is very cheap. Furthermore, this version includes all the DLC bonus characters for the game such as Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, the Alien Xenomorph and the Predator.
So, after twenty-six years has anything really changed with regard to Mortal Kombat as a franchise? Overall no. Apart from the obvious graphical improvements that technology brings, this is still very much an in your face, über violent and proudly exploitative fighting game. Bad guys and heroes alike spout faux Sun Tzu wisdom, sport generic "bad ass names" and have incomprehensible back stories. No one ever gets the least bit phased when encountering the supernatural or particularly worries when a fellow contestant dies horribly in a tournament. All female characters still have outsized chests, although they've gotten over their pathological loathing of sports bras in this instalment of the game. The crass giggle physics have been dialled back as well. Yet because Mortal Kombat is such an utter caricature of so many pop culture tropes, it is somewhat hard to take umbrage with it. The game is what it is and lacks any pretentions. If you want to play competitively, then you can pit your wits and more importantly reflexes, against other players online. If like me, your twitch gaming days are behind you, then you can fool about in the “shallow end” and simply spar against bots with the difficulty set low.
Furthermore, not only has Mortal Kombat remained consistent over the years, but so has my lack of skill and manual dexterity. I still struggle with executing the kill moves and my failure has become even more pronounced. Earlier today, fuelled with a nostalgic sense of bloodlust and a bottle of indifferent Merlot, I spent several hours working my way through Tournament mode in Mortal Kombat XL. My frantic contortions sadly ended in disaster. After desperately button mashing my way through a fight with Scorpion, I finally bested him. Yet as soon as the game announced, “Finish Him”, my mind went completely blank as to the what was the key combination of my special kill. As frustration and panic kicked in, I rose from my chair and started randomly pressing controller buttons with great vigour, while uttering old Anglo-Saxon colloquialisms. It did not end well. The net result was a knocked over a glass of wine, a ripped a T-shirt and unplugged Xbox controller. I found myself on the floor, confused, bruised and feeling very old. Walter was also unseated (he's the Panda) and the only fatality that ensued was to my dignity. Be warned people. Mortal Kombat can be as equally dangerous to the player as it can be to the in-game characters.