|Photo by: PlayStation.Blog via Flickr|
This is the typical command that allows gamers to tap into their inner beasts which seek blood and gore.
For 25 years, Mortal Kombat has become an establishment in the arena of fighting games, all thanks to the one element that sets them apart from its contemporaries -- the fatalities.
The sight of the arena covered in darkness and the character performing his or her bloodiest deed against the fallen has attracted both awe and fear among gamers and audiences alike.
Entering the fighting arena
The 90s were a decade that served as a vital turning point for arcade games.Thanks to Capcom's Street Fighter 2 and SNK's Fatal Fury, the fighting game genre saw its rise to mainstream success, introducing a new brand of competitive gaming.
The decade also saw Midway, a prominent establishment in arcade game localization at that time, seeking a way to uplift its name as developers.In the tail end of the 80s, Midway and Williams formed an alliance that will help the former realize its goal as a gaming establishment.
John Tobias already made a name for himself in the gaming development department with Smash TV and Total Carnage under his resume, while Ed Boon kickstarted his career with Williams's pinball department by coding software for Funhouse and Black Knight 2000 prior to his shift towards game development with the High Impact Football series.
The Boon-Tobias pair recalled that Midway assigned them to create a "combat game for release within a year," where the pair deduced that its purpose was to compete with Capcom's Street Fighter II.Initially, the pair had plans to create an action game inspired by Jean-Claude Van Damme, yet he was in talks with another company for a video that was never released.
From that point, Midway started to immerse itself with digitized photographs that will amplify realism.The concept will become one of Boon and Tobias' major selling points towards the creation of Mortal Kombat.
"It has begun!"
On October 8, 1992, Mortal Kombat entered the fighting arena and would change the fighting genre forever.
To separate itself from its contemporaries, Mortal Kombat's characters are identical with one another.The only difference, however, is the range of their moves and speed.
Another component that makes Mortal Kombat unique is its eight-way joystick and its five buttons, composed of high and low punches and kicks and a block button.Uppercuts and leg sweeps have also become the franchise's signature features with the former propelling the opponent into the air and dealing a large amount of damage.
Mortal Kombat's blocking scheme is also unique as it permits characters to sustain a small amount of damage (also known as "chip damage" in fighting game circles) from regular moves, contrary to both Street Fighter and Fatal Fury's blocking system where characters receive chip damage only from special moves.
The fighting game has also pioneered "juggling," a concept where the aggressor knocks the opponent into the air and unleash a barrage of attacks.This concept will be also observed by many other games in the future.
The "dizzied" mechanic (or more commonly known as "stun") employed by other fighting games also paved the way to the introduction of Mortal Kombat's famous and infamous trait, the fatalities.
At first, Boon despised the said mechanic, yet he admitted that it was fun to get a free hit.Like many of the fighting game mechanics, Mortal Kombat tweaked it by making it happen at the end of the fight, in either Round Two or Three, and being indicated through the words that have also become one of the franchise's signature phrases: "Finish Him/Her!"
Every character is equipped with a fatality and one of their notable requirements, along with a combination of buttons, is distance.Perhaps the most famous fatality in the game's history is Sub-Zero's "Spine Rip" fatality.
On the other hand, Mortal Kombat's fatalities have triggered a moral panic that resulted in a Congressional hearing that, in turn, led to the establishment of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) game rating system in 1994.
Yet, such an establishment was not enough to stop Mortal Kombat from satisfying its proverbial bloodthirsty patrons through the release of its sequels.
Mortal Kombat's other "alities"
With the game's evolution, different ways of punishing the opponent have been introduced.Here are some notable ways:
Animality. Introduced in Mortal Kombat 3, characters change into animals and deliver the killing blow.
Babality. In Mortal Kombat 2, players have the choice to turn their opponents into an infant version of their characters.This will be carried out until Mortal Kombat Trilogy.Babality saw its comeback in its reboot.
Brutality. The said method permits players to execute a combo that will cause the opponent to explode, leaving an unrealistic amount of bone and flesh.It was also infamous as players are required to memorize and perform a special 11-hit combo.
Faction Kill. In Mortal Kombat X, the chosen fighter executes a certain fatality pertaining to what faction the player is part of in the game.
Friendship. As the name implies, a fighter exercises an act of kindness.The developers described it as "a counter to all the blood and gore."
Hara-Kiri. Much like the normal fatality, except that it is inputted by the defeated player.It simply means suicide.
Heroic Brutality. In Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, it is a finishing move only employed by DC heroes.
Stage Fatality. Here, the victor executes a certain command that will bring his or her opponent from the arena to their deaths.