Mortal Kombat Turns 25

Mortal Kombat Turns 25 In October 1992, arcade powerhouse Midway unleashed its answer to Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 upon American arcades. Called Mortal Kombat, Midway’s fighter didn’t do much that was particularly new, but it managed to pull together several existing threads of game design in a way that felt fresh, contemporary and unique. Mortal Kombat presented arcadegoers with an alchemical blend of Street Fighter’s one-on-one combat, Pit Fighter’s digitized character artwork and the over-the-top gore of exploitative works like Exidy’s Chiller.

The game’s heady blend of skill-based competitive play and ’90s attitude (“Kombat” comes from the same angry school of linguistics as “Xtreme”) inspired nearly as many imitators as Street Fighter itself. From the gross-out stop-motion brawling of ClayFighter and Primal Rage to the digitized brutality of Kasumi Ninja to the combo-driven mechanics of Killer Instinct, Kombat klones — er, clones — clogged the arcade market in no time flat

Mortal Kombat Turns 25

The game’s success was undoubtedly buoyed by the narrative of a Street Fighter versus Mortal Kombat rivalry, which lined up neatly with the tribalism that had taken hold among gamers in the ’90s. The conversation back then always seemed to pit Nintendo against Sega, Mario against Sonic, Final Fight against Double Dragon and so forth. Pitting two fighting games against one another wasn’t just thematically appropriate; it felt like an inevitable turn of the video game zeitgeist.

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