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I wish Mortal Kombat 1 had a modern control scheme like Street Fighter 6

I ain't memorising all that

Characters from Mortal Kombat 1 gather together
Image credit: Warner Bros Games

Mortal Kombat 1 is surely going to delight fans of fighting games and fans of Mortal Kombat. Having given it a whirl for around 45 minutes at Summer Game Fest, I'm convinced it's gorgeous, gory, and guaranteed to please a demanding electronic sports audience who can actually memorise inputs and string together combos. Yet, the entirety of my time with Mortal Kombat 1 had me desperate for an equivalent to Street Fighter 6's modern control scheme: a simplified remap of the buttons which enables anyone to hop in and do cool moves.

Lots of fighting games have one gimmick that helps give them more of an identity other than, "Fighting Game: Another One". Mortal Kombat 1's big gimmick is the ability to select a second fighter who'll act as a sort of tag team partner who - at the press of a button so long as you've got the requisite shiny bar filled up for it - will run into the arena and do, like, a big spin kick or chuck some knives and then peace out. For good players, they act as an extra appendage or a tactical trampoline which will help commence or extend combos in flashy ways.

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Before I got my mitts on the controller, I saw numerous examples of tag team journo wrestlers hopping in to deliver unique special moves where they'd crack ribs, or help juggle opponents with a choice laser beam from afar. Then I got my hands on the controller and kind of just button-mashed. Sure, I managed to defeat some AI enemies and felt there was some flair to my moves, but man, I couldn't figure out how to even pull off a fatality - don't laugh.

A lovely Warner Bros rep directed me to three subsections of the menu screen, replete with all the combos and their inputs. Granted, each fatality was fairly easy to learn because it only required a simple bish, then bosh. All the others? Nah, good for you, but I ain't bothering with that. You expect me to have the mental capability to process the equivalent of a GTA cheat code and then translate it to my thumbs?

I've seen loads of "Mortal Kombat is already in baby controls" takes floating around forums discussing the topic of modern controls. Sure, it might be a lot simpler than your average fighting game, but I certainly didn't get a sense I was able to string together an interesting or semi-complex combo with the basic bash of the triangles and circles. Street Fighter 6, on the other hand, lets you hold down triggers as combo shortcuts for button mashers, or press them to engage a parry or a special move. It's modern control scheme helps anyone allocate brain power to strategy by fast-tracking the complex.

Mortal Kombat 1 might let anyone play and it might be one of the easier fighting games to master. But throughout the demo, I would've killed for Street Fighter 6's modern control scheme and its gateway to unpacking the nuances of Mortal Kombat - or any other fighting game, really - I doubt I'll ever see.

NotE3 and Summer Game Fest 2023 is over for another year. You can find out all the latest news by visiting our E3 2023 hub, or you can catch up with our round-up posts of everything that was announced at Summer Game Fest, the Xbox Games Showcase, the PC Gaming Show, Day Of The Devs, and our top highlights from the Wholesome Direct.

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