Mortal Kombat Trilogy (2)

Genre: Fighting
Year: 1996
Developed by: Midway Games
Published by: Midway Games
Platforms: Playstation, N64, Sega Saturn, Windows
Feeling Like: Get over here!

In the 90s, there were two specific genres that captured the mainstream’s attention for the wrong reasons. First Person Shooters launched themselves into controversy with Doom, the most graphic video game at the time that captured the frenzied attention of anybody with access to a computer. Romero and Carmack unearthed something primal, a consequence free (perhaps?) environment where the youth could slaughter each other in multiplayer Deathmatch. There’s no possible way the founders of id Software knew how influential that mode, and Doom’s unrepentant panache for killing demons, would become in video game history.

Another scapegoat for school shootings, teenage rebellion and the general moray decay of the family unit was Mortal Kombat, an ultra realistic fighter that used digitized actors to shock the world with unapologetic gore and violence. So much so, that the United States government intervened and threatened federal regulations. Nintendo, Sega and the rest appeased them and avoided punishment by creating the Entertainment Software Rating Board, to label games with age-appropriate content ratings. Mortal Kombat, Night Trap and a few others were more influential in this regard than any other.

As the controversy faded, the Mortal Kombat franchise became less relevant to non-gamers, yet kept evolving for the better. Ed Boon and John Tobias were incredibly passionate about not only making a good video game, but a source of entertainment that you weren’t able to get anywhere else. They embraced every aspect of their brand and image. They didn’t shy away from the controversy or from furious parents, or from the condescending news anchors.

They went bigger.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy (4)
Green fireball shooting Centaur bigger

More characters, more finishing moves, more stages, the addition of a “run” button and more secrets meant Mortal Kombat Trilogy (or Mortal Kombat 3) was the best of the bunch. New actors were brought in (due to a royalties dispute) for wildly improved graphics over the first two Mortal Kombats.

You have to understand, these character models were unparalleled at the time. While we were barely crawling into the third dimension, Mortal Kombat Trilogy had insanely detailed, bombastic and creative combatants. Every time one of us picked a new fighter, we marveled at how realistic they looked, how visceral their Fatality was, how  ridiculous their Friendship finishers were, how unworldly the animations looked. We couldn’t shake the feeling that we were playing something intended for a much older audience, which made the experience that much more gratifying.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy (3)
The background models haven’t aged as well, but the forefront guys still look great!

Beating the computer on any kind of difficult difficulty seemed futile, so we stuck to passing the controller around our intrepid group of adolescent, impressionable gamers. The GamePro magazine that contained countless codes and secrets became the most important document in the house, critically studied during downtime, or carefully read aloud when we tried to summon Motaro, or Khameleon.

It didn’t matter who won the most matches. Everybody was just happy to see all 28 characters and try to pull off their moves, both easy and seemingly impossible (whoever came up with the idea to have “up” as part of a move deserves a Johnny Cage special). Regardless of our ineptitude when it came to attempting fatalities, or defeating Shao Khan, this was a fantastic party game and another notch in Midway’s belt. It may not have turned heads like the original, but Mortal Kombat Trilogy was the best of the series at the time, and that’s no small feat(ality).

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