Street Fighter II arrived on the scene in 1991 and arcade fighting games were never the same again. It jumpstarted a revolution and inspired many other companies to develop their own fighting games, hopeful for a slice of the pie. Midway changed the gaming industry on August 2, 1992, when they released Mortal Kombat. Featuring a more “realistic” look, buckets of gore, eye-popping Fatalities and an elaborate backstory, Mortal Kombat became nothing short of a phenomenon. It’s crazy to believe it’s almost been exactly 25 years to the day that this game first came out. It was a different era back then. And whether you liked or hated Mortal Kombat, it was the kind of game that elicited a reaction. That year Midway, Capcom and SNK all battled for arcade fighting game supremacy. What a time to be alive.
Who could ever forget the infamous ad campaign for MORTAL MONDAY? That, of course, was the big day the home ports of Mortal Kombat were set to be released. It was one of the most memorable campaigns to any video game ever. September 13, 1993 was the day Mortal Kombat finally came home. It was quite the moment and an amazing time to be a robust 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. Whether you liked the game or not there’s no denying that the hyped release was a HAPPENING. Yup, no 16-bit gamer who grew up back then will ever forget those two infamous words, Mortal Monday. Good times.
Indeed, it was a special time. SNES owners had been enjoying Street Fighter II Turbo for a month, and then Mortal Kombat joined the fray. I was 10 years old, loving the 5th grade and loving my SNES. Life was simple and life was good.
THE STORY GOES…
You’re not the only one who grew up in the ’90s wanting to do that to Acclaim at some point. Thanks for making our dreams come true, Goro. You’re a real hero.
Indeed, there were only a measly 7 combatants to select from, but one could argue Street Fighter II had only 7 itself as well (Ryu and Ken had matching movesets). At least the two palette swaps here, Sub-Zero and Scorpion, have their own unique, distinct fighting styles.
We didn’t quite understand the infamous FINISH HIM!! part when we first encountered Mortal Kombat in the arcades as kids. It was clear though that in those 3 seconds post-battle, you had the chance to do something. I’ll never forget the first time I saw somebody pull off Scorpion’s Fatality in the arcades. It was the first Fatality I witnessed and a moment in time that I will never forget. Everyone huddled around the arcade cab started screaming and basically losing their shit. We had never EVER seen anything like THAT before. It instantly put Mortal Kombat on the map. Say what you will about the game — it’s a gimmick, it’s a novelty, it’s a far cry from what constitutes as a “good” fighting game — but there’s NO denying that being a kid and seeing your very first Fatality back in 1992 was a moment you’d never forget. It’s just one of those epic defining moments in the ol’ video game memory bank. It’s right up there next to the first time you saw the two Barons of Hell bursting out of their pods from DOOM, or the rabid zombie dogs crashing through the window in the very first Resident Evil.
You find yourself on the inside but the battle has only just begun. You feel the intense burning eyes of over 20 monks tracking your every movement. In the far distance, high above, the creepy Shang Tsung looks on. I love the way the monks are all quietly bobbing away. Reminds me of all the kung fu flicks I watched as a kid growing up…
Ominous clouds linger overhead as you continue to prove your worth. The giant Buddha statue there is certainly a nice touch. If you can defeat your opponent here, the gates open to reveal the…
Only the best of the best are immortalized here with a life-sized statue. Goro’s gigantic statue eerily towers over the combatants, constantly reminding you of what terrors await at the end of the arduous road.
Lurking deep below in the pit are hundreds of razor sharp spikes. Many bodies have been mutilated when knocked over the precariously narrow platform ledge. It’s a very basic but effectively sadistic stage. One of the true Mortal Kombat classics. Gotta love it!
Under the watchful glare of Shang Tsung, you battle to the death for his twisted amusement. It’s genuinely creepy how he claps at the end of a round. The motion of the clapping is a bit erratic and just doesn’t seem right…
The skeletons adorned to the walls and glowing red eyes flickering in the dark say it all. Many heinous acts, far too horrible to speak of, have been conducted down here in this decrepit dungeon of DEATH and DESPAIR. The foul and putrid smell of decaying bones invade your senses. You would probably puke and gag if you weren’t busy trying to stay alive. Meanwhile, somewhere nearby the hideous monster Goro lurks…
THE BONUS STAGE
Can’t help but love that name. Johnny Cage is a shallow narcissist who also happens to be a grand martial arts fiend. He’s capable of taking out a small army in the matter of seconds. Why did he enter the tournament? To garner more publicity toward his brand and to prove he’s truly the best in the universe. His fashion sense could use some work but hey, it was 1992.
Through years of intense training, Johnny can muster up so much chi that he’s able to unleash a lethal green flame from the palm of his hand. His trusty Shadow Kick produces so much force that you can actually see a shadow trail.
His Fatality has been sadly neutered.
Kano is nothing but a punk. Leader of the deadly Black Dragon clan, Kano believes Shang Tsung’s palace to be made of gold. He entered the tourney in order to find out if the rumor’s true or not.
Never one to shy away from violence, Kano’s Knife Throw travels fast and cuts even harder. He’ll do anything to gain the upper hand, including putting his very own body in harm’s way. This is clearly evident by his Cannon Ball where he throws caution to the wind. Eat your heart out, Blanka. Hell, Kano would.
Infamous for his vicious “rip their heart out” Fatality, Nintendo of America of course would not allow such a thing. Wish I could tell you the pillar there is blocking the heart graphic but it was sadly censored and Kano in fact doesn’t hold a heart at all. This makes the animation of him staring into his empty hand a bit awkward.
Who didn’t get a kick out of Liu Kang back in the day? This Bruce Lee wannabe is out to restore nobility and honor to the tournament, which has been tainted by the likes of madman Shang Tsung. Liu Kang once said, “Spikes don’t hit back… wait, actually, they sort of do… hmmm.”
Dragon Fire scorches its target. His lunging Dragon Kick darts across the screen in a flash, keeping opponents on their toes.
Another horribly neutered Fatality, he does a little fancy flip into an uppercut. Really?
In my gaming crew back in the day we used to joke about how one of our friends was secretly the elusive Sushi-X from EGM fame. We also thought another one of our friends, Tommy, moonlighted as Rayden. For a couple years there in the early-mid ’90s, we tried several times to sneak a rice hat onto Tommy’s head, always to no avail. I swear the dude was the spitting image of Rayden. Ah, those were the days…
Rayden’s Lightning Bolt is sure to electrify the competition (sorry). His infamous Super Man torpedo elicited many exaggerated “AH-LA-LA-AHH-LAAA!” yelps from fans back in the early ’90s.
Teleport from one side to the other to catch the opposition off guard. Start a fancy combo if you wish or simply nail them with an uppercut that sends them sky high!
Rayden electrocutes his victim into a pile of dust. It’s a bit hard to pull off but it’s one of the better looking Fatalities in this port. Don’t mess with the Thunder God.
Ah, Scorpion. My friends and I — hell, everyone I knew growing up — always thought he was badass. But when we witnessed his Fatality for the very first time and saw that hideous skull behind the cool ninja mask, Scorpion officially became a legend among legends. This hombre is frigging awesome. Besides, he is responsible for three of gaming’s most iconic words: “GET OVER HERE!!”
Scorpion’s infamous “GET OVER HERE!!” Spear is to Mortal Kombat what the Hadoken is to Street Fighter II. It’s one of the most iconic special moves in fighting game history. Scorpion can also teleport and quickly reappear attacking on the other side.
Never before 1992 had I seen anything like this. There was a palpable buzz in that arcade hall the moment the screen went dark. Scorp takes off the mask, reveals his true horrific identity which naturally elicits a collective gasp from the crowd, *POOF* does his thing and the rest is history. It’s one of those legendary video gaming moments that you never forget.
Sonya was Miday’s answer to Capcom’s Chun-Li. You may scoff at her fashion sense but back in ’92 no one knew any better. Kind of scary, when you think about it.
Before Chun-Li’s Kikoken fireball you had Sonya Blade’s Energy Rings. Sonya also loves taking to the air as well as tossing her opponents with her mighty strong legs.
Brings a whole new meaning to “Kiss of Death.”
Sub-Zero is the man. Who doesn’t love ninjas, especially ones with ice powers? His longstanding rivalry with Scorpion is well documented.
Putting the big freeze on an opponent leaves him or her frozen for a few moments. This makes them ripe for the taking. Sub-Zero also has a sliding attack to keep his opponents honest.
While it’s not his uncensored arcade original Fatality of ripping out one’s bloody spinal cord, this more kid-friendly reimagining is not too shabby.
Indeed he is. And what a sight for sore eyes. When we first saw him, like many of the Fatalities themselves, there was a palpable visceral reaction. He looked, moved, sounded and played the part of a menacing monster like we had never seen before.
Shang Tsung is a shapeshifting bastard. The idea of a boss who could turn temporarily into any of the other fighters always appealed to me. After all, if there was a boss code that meant you could pick a character who would basically serve as an in-game Russian Roulette
Remember the Mortal Kombat song? It was actually pretty damn cool. Great beat and I loved the actual Mortal Kombat announcer saying the fighters’ names and memorable phrases like “EXCELLENT!” and “TEST YOUR MIGHT!” To honor the theme song, I compiled a montage below that walks you through the first part of the song. So if you’d indulge me for a bit, click on the YouTube song and enjoy a blast from the past as you scroll through the pictures below.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 7 and 8. GameFan gave it ratings of 75, 76, 78 and 80%. Super Play scored it 81%. It was praised for its amazing visuals and sound but the severe censorship definitely was not a popular choice with the critics. Late 1993 was a great time to be a Super Nintendo owner as well as a fighting game fan. Street Fighter II Turbo and Mortal Kombat, released only a month apart of each other, battled for SNES supremacy. I always saw Turbo as the superior game but Mortal Kombat did stand as an intriguing alternative. The tap tap style was certainly unique, as well as the huge digitized characters. The debate would rage on that fall of ’93 as the two games graced magazine covers galore. It was all part of the fun of that magical era… a time period in which I still look back on with a real deep fondness even more than 20 years later.
1993 was a special time in my life. It’s a year I’ll never forget. I was 10, I had a best friend, my 5th grade teacher was the best I ever had, the school’s two cutest girls were in my class, the SNES and Genesis were waging war at their peak, and it was the age of the 2D fighting game. When I think back to that precious time of my life and the games that helped to define that era, Mortal Kombat inevitably comes to mind. Its bloody mayhem and rivalry with Street Fighter II Turbo was simply the stuff legends are made of. And so too was the hype train when these two games were set to make their shiny SNES debut. My brother bought Street Fighter II Turbo and our gaming crew bought Mortal Kombat. It was the best of both worlds as we hosted tournaments for both games whenever we got together back in those days. Good times!
The SNES port, aside from being censored, was decent for its time. The fighters were colossal and looked pretty amazing back in 1993. The sound captured the intensity of the arcade original. I’ve always enjoyed the music and sound effects of Mortal Kombat. The gameplay, however, takes a bit of a hit. I was never the biggest fan of the arcade original in terms of sheer playability. I always felt the Street Fighter games were in another class. The original Mortal Kombat, I feel, was never a fantastic game to begin with. It was the unique novelty that drew us in. While the SNES port is fairly faithful, Fatalities and blood aside, it’s a fairly faithful port of an arcade game that wasn’t all that good to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy busting out this game even to this day for the random stroll down memory lane. But the control wasn’t all that great and left the gameplay feeling a little stiff as a result. Moves don’t flow out smoothly and it takes a while to get used to. It’s a fun piece of history I suppose, and a look back at simpler times — a magical time of childhood and the awe of witnessing your first blood-laced Fatality. But as a game, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Now, Mortal Kombat II on the other hand…
Mortal Kombat falls a little short in my book, not just because it was censored but because the control is not as crisp as it should have been. Still, it’s something of a guilty pleasure I have to admit and a game that I still randomly pop in for the sake of nostalgia. It’s a relic from my youth that perfectly captures those lazy, hazy, crazy 1993 days.