Have You Played… Mortal Kombat?

what are they all looking at? Why these poses? WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE NETHER REALM

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I’ve been playing Injustice 2 recently (sadly, not on PC) and even though it’s probably quite rubbish if you’re a proper fighting game fan, the kind who could have been a concert pianist given your digital dexterity, but if you just want to watch superheroes biff one another, it’s top stuff. Mostly, it’s the loot system that makes it so compelling. It’s all silly boxes that spew out random bits of costume and stats, but that’s enough to keep me coming back again and again.

The studio behind Injustice 2 is led by Ed Boon, creator of Mortal Kombat, and all of this punching and kicking has got me thinking about how much I loved Scorpion back in the day.

I’d played Street Fighter II. Of course I had. It was impossible to avoid if you spent time in arcades, as I did, and if you had friends who owned consoles. All of my efforts to learn the ropes met with disaster, though I could eke out an occasional win as Blanka. But as my friends either drifted away from the game or got so good they weren’t fun to play against anymore, I forgot about fighting games for a while. Then Mortal Kombat came along and I was teenage enough that ripping someone’s spine out at the end of a fight seemed so ridiculously cool that I didn’t even question whether I actually wanted to learn all of the special moves.

And I hated the heaviness of the controls and the size of the characters on the screen and the fact that I had to buy a magazine to find out how to do the finishing moves and the fact that I still couldn’t pull them off when I had the instructions right there on a page in front of me. Imagine going to so much effort to see an animation a few seconds long. Weird. The whole appeal of Mortal Kombat was weird. The fatalities weren’t even that gruesome really. On paper, sure, but they blood was big dollops of ketchup and it was all so hokey and silly.

For a while back there it did feel illicit though, in a way that appealed so much to my rebellious side. A few of us spent an entire weekend trying to figure out if we could turn on the blood in the SNES version (it had been replaced with globules of what I assume was supposed to be sweat) after hearing a rumour at school that it was possible using some excessively long button combination during the boot-up sequence.

I still don’t particularly like fighting games so I haven’t kept up with Mortal Kombat since the third, when I still actually paid attention to the vast, daft, multi-realm mythology. The truth is, Injustice 2 is just as daft and is also preposterously violent. In some ways my tastes haven’t changed all that much, I just take some of the more excessive aspects of those tastes much less seriously.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Ah, Mortal Kombat. I had it on the Genesis (Megadrive for you European folks) and had the big goopy ketchup all over.

    Also if I recall correctly, the debug menu code was Down-up-left-left-A-right-down. “DULLARD”. So that was fun.

    Also I could never really get the fatalities to work either, despite having the movelists.

    Still played it to death, for years.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but I suspect that this one game single-handedly saved the Genesis from being run out of town by the SNES.

      The SNES was better in every conceivable way, and the kids stuck with Segas knew it- but then MK hit both consoles and suddenly the Sega owners weren’t kids anymore. The SNES was suddenly the child’s toy, unable to show the gritty real-world violence of Kano ripping a man’s heart out.

      • Archonsod says:

        As a SNES owner who was surrounded by Megadrive owners I had the opposite view. Mechanically the SNES might have been superior, but in terms of the games available it was definitely outclassed. Not that it didn’t have some great games available, but I always got the feeling Nintendo were a lot more restrictive towards third party developers than Sega were.

        • FroshKiller says:

          At least until the SNES port of Mortal Kombat II, at which point Nintendo truly ate Sega’s lunch.

          • Silbergeist says:

            I think Nintendo only outdid Sega in MK3, mostly because in MK2 Genesis still had better controls and the music was a hundred times better.

          • Premium User Badge

            phuzz says:

            People please, it’s been years and years now. Let’s put this silly Sega vs Nintendo war to bed, and all just admit that the Amiga was much better.

          • Nauallis says:

            Ah, you poor console peasants. Arguing about who has the least stinky outhouse. Please, continue.

  2. FroshKiller says:

    I had the Super Nintendo version, and the Game Genie code to turn the sweat red is burned into my memory: BDB4-DD07.

  3. Archonsod says:

    Had the original on the Amiga (while I had the SNES version of SF II).
    Funnily enough Mortal Kombat is the one I stuck with, for much the reasons you mention at the start of the article in respect of Injustice 2. SF seemed to spawn around 3 versions a minute all focused on dull stuff like balance and getting those frame-perfect combo’s just right. Mortal Kombat on the other hand stuck with what was fun – watching Jason Vorhees getting decapitated by The Predator.

  4. Donjo says:

    Does anyone remember an April fools day thing in a games mag at the time that was supposed to turn on red blood on the snes version? Some ridiculously convoluted code that also involved bluetacking a coin onto the cartridge….

  5. Gordon Shock says:

    I think a more appropriate title for this article should be:

    “Has Mortal Kombat sucked you paychecks right out of your bank account during it’s arcade days?”

    For me it was more SF2 but I have plenty of friends who obsessed of MK.

  6. briangw says:

    I did. Until a 9 year old schooled me in the arcade years ago. At that point, I felt I was too old at the grand old age of 20. 😞

  7. Laurentius says:

    Enogh said I still remember some key comabinations for fatalities:
    Johnny Cage- forward x3, High Punch, Yeah !!!

  8. Jerppa says:


  9. fuggles says:

    Down, forward, down, forward, punch!

    It was no one must fall 2097, which had equally preposterous fatalities, arguably more so!

    • Rituro says:

      You win the comments section for making an OMF reference. I raise my Jaguar’s low-poly fist in your honour.

  10. Spacewalk says:

    They really should have stuck with this aesthetic for the rest of the series but that’s just me, I’m the kind of guy who believes that Street Fighter shouldn’t have reduced the damage levels on moves over the years and kept re-dizzies.

  11. oyog says:

    Primal Rage may not be the most nuanced fighting game but it’s the best fighting game because dinosaurs.

  12. desolation0 says:

    Bit of a spelling mistake in the article, you forgot to replace every word starting with ‘c’ with a ‘k’ instead.

  13. wombat191 says:

    link to youtube.com mortal combat theme.. you are welcome haha