After reading part 3 of the gaming history, you’re probably wondering how could games get any better than Altered Beast. A game that encompassed all manner of things akin to greek mythology, which was one of the few kinds of story book i enjoyed reading in primary school. Greek mythologies, like the bible, were a collection of make believe stories that have been passed on through the ages, to teach and entertain, although when you compare the two, it’s like comparing doing homework to watching WWF wrestling, on a Saturday morning, with a can of cherry coke and a bag of monster munch. Less talk, more action.
The Megadrive really did open up new worlds of gaming for me. True, it was not the only console out there at the time but the huge games library and the fact most of my friends had the same system, it was the obvious choice.
Out of the countless titles I had owned and borrowed from friends, there will always be a small selection that stick in my mind as first-rate. As I didn’t live in the Philippines at the time, at 8 years old I wasn’t legally allowed to work. Most of my gaming library was acquired through the means of blackmailing my parents into thinking buying me Mortal Kombat, would enhance my school grades. As you’ve probably noticed by now with the subtle hints, Mortal Kombat was a favourite of mine, back in the early nineties.
Whilst others were bouncing around psychedelic worlds collecting gold rings with a spinning blue hedgehog, I was kicking people to death in the most realistic yet humours fighting game to date. What was different about this fighting game, compared to the platforms released by the Japanese, were the digitised sprites. Unlike the drawn characters of the early Street Fighter games, actors would have their actions filmed, which would be then digitised into graphic form, using a programmable machine designed to automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations…or as some people like to call it, a computer.
The idea was simple. A 2D fighting game using digitised sprites, truck loads of violence with a cool soundtrack. It’s been done to death but Mortal Kombat is in a league of its own. Since the first instalment back in1992 we’ve seen 18 Mortal Kombat games, each with their own unique style and format. Mortal Kombat began life as a mix of ideas of just four men. Ed Boon, lead programmer, two graphics guys, John Tobias and John Vogel and Dan Forden created the infamous sound. Originally Ed Boon and John Tobias wanted to digitise and use Jean-Claude Van Damme to wonder around, smacking people but it never came to fruition. In the end they settled with some made up characters who were all linked loosely by a weak story line, much like a Van Damme film.
Probably the result of having Van Damme in mind for the game. This smug prick is a action film star but is also good at killing in real life. To prove it, he enters the Mortal Kombat Tournament. He’s topless, wears jogging bottoms and a pair of shades that you can’t even kick off.
Johnny’s special moves consisted of a wobbly ball of green light, a ‘shadow kick’, which was basically the same animation multiplied across the screen several times to indicated a special kick. Finally Johnny’s trade mark move was a good old punch the balls…or lady burger, if you’re playing Sonya.
Not a chap you’d want to meet down a dark alley…actually you wouldn’t want to meet him anywhere. Kano gives as much of a fuck as a headless porn actress. Recruited by the evil Shang Tsung, the mad aussie is as good with his head as he is with his hands.
Kano’s speciality is his glowing knives, which he can throw at an infinate amount of times. Kano’s other special move was the cannonball, where somehow he throws himself at you, using himself as the projectile. A grade ‘A’ lunatic.
Imagine Bruce Lee, give him immortal power and then set his shoes on fire. That’s Lu Kang. Throughout the Mortal Kombat legacy he’s fought everyone, he’s been everywhere but doesn’t have the time for the T-shirt.
His weapons are his hands and feet. If he’s not punching you repeatedly whilst making the kind of noise a person makes when they step on a plug, he’s kicking your ass into next Tuesday. Because he resembles Bruce Lee in many ways, his special moves compile of a fly kick and the ability to fire balls of flame from his hands…obviously some kind of fantastical way of implying he has the power of a dragon but it’s cool nonetheless. Kang’s most entertaining special move is his ‘bicycle kick’, which literally looks like he’s trying to pedal an imaginary bike, using your face as pedals. If you listen carefully when performed, you might here the following, “Moveoutofthewayorillkickyouintheface”.
Sonya Blade is a woman Chris Brown couldn’t beat. She could crush a weak, stereotypical, manufactured black rapper’s head with her thighs alone. Sonya is part of some military outfit who is sent to sort out all of the bother in the Mortal Kombat tournament. It’s a little more than she bargained for and later gets some help from the man mountain that is JAX.
Her special moves are somewhat to be desired in the first Mortal Kombat. Using some sort of military technology she is able to fire a pink energy projectile at her opponent. The scissor kick take down was always quite amusing, she put her ankles around your neck (not in the good way) then pulled you down with so much force you bump your head on the floor, making the screen shake.
Don’t let the straw hat deceive you, Raiden is no oriental farmer. He’s a god like man who can summon lightning, now you’re probably wondering what made him choose a straw hat. In the first Mortal Kombat you learn that Raiden is the organiser of the good guys who fight Shang Tsung and his henchmen in the tournament. Be sure that where ever Raiden is, that’s where the shit’s going down. He has a formidable set of special moves, from firing lightning at you with his hands, to flying across the screen, arms outstretched, palm striking you to death. Undoubtedly one of the best characters in MK and because of that, he’s been in the majority of the titles.
Cooler than a tramp on Christmas day. Sub-Zero is one of the many masked ninja’s in the MK world. Subs has the ability to freeze his opponent with an icy blast or he can lay a sheet of ice on the floor so the unsuspecting foe will slip all over and hurt themselves. He defiantly isn’t the guy who would respond to an accident claim form either, so approach him cautiously. In later games he does develop some seriously harsh combinations, Sub-Zero has proved to be a popular character amongst the veterans of the series. Sub-Zero’s ‘Fatality’ is also something to watch for in this first MK title, this, along with a few other things, resulted in the introduction of the world’s first computer games age ratings.
Hotter than Monica Belluci and Kate Winslet wrestling in melted Cadbury’s chocolate. Scorpion, for his deeds, resides in hell. He is another masked Ninja from a different clan to Sub-Zero and also sworn enemies. Probably my favourite character all round. He acquired another sound sample that has been referenced and used countless times since it was first heard. ‘COME ERE!!’ or ‘GET OVER HERE!’ holds its place as one of the most famous sounds from a computer game. Scorpion’s array of moves are pretty brutal. His spear attack is the move that was given the ‘Come here!’ sample and his teleport punch was rather handy when things got rough.
The game was deemed a bad influence for children and as I have mentioned earlier, Mortal Kombat was stamped with the first age rating. This was also partly due to the ‘fatalities’ in the game. For every win in Mortal Kombat you have a few seconds to perform a button sequence which initiated music at the same time the screen goes dark and the fatality is performed. Sub-Zero’s fatality was to grab the head of the victim and pull the head, along with the spine, out of the body, holding in the air like a trophy. At the time, this was the equivalent of finding a bag of jazz mags in a bush as a teenager, fatalities weren’t listed in the games manual, these were acquired by doing your research without the help of the internet.
Speaking of which and for the benefit of the younger reader, I’m older than the internet, so I remember a time when arrangements would have to be made via a landline (That’s using a phone with a cable hanging out of it) for your friend to come over, sometimes equipped with his/her own pad, for a few hours session on the console. As games progressed, so did the intensity of the competition and due to titles like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, King Of Fighters, Killer Instinct and the like, champions emerged and soon made names for themselves worldwide.
The beat’em up’s really took off…arcades were full young boys and girls spending their hard earned, showing off their skills and earning some cool points. If you’ve ever been involved in a tournament of any kind, whether it was at home or in the arcades themselves. The competition can get intense but ultimately, it’s exciting, beating your opponent with learnt skills and knowledge is something personal and satisfying.
How games were ever demonised is beyond me. Simulated fighting or killing in a game does not encourage you to beat up everyone you meet, if you have mental issues anyway, it’s not the games fault you don’t know the difference between killing an imaginary foe to bludgeoning your friend with a brick.
The media, as always can’t make up its mind, they’re saying one minute games make kids lazy, the next, their effecting children and they end up shooting their class mates. Not true. It’s probably more to do with the fact uncle touchy has been giving the kid an ultimatum of beatings or soapy bath time and bought him/her a Playstation to keep them quiet. In the end the kids head pops and someone gets the shit end of the stick.
“Little Jimmy Morrison had a Playstation in his room which he would play for up to ten hours a day, playing the simulated gangster game, Grand Theft Auto, a game in which you can pick up a prostitute take her in your car and then safely drop her off at the end of the road”
The government would much rather you joined their armed forces and kill for a reason you’re not quite sure of. Why not be like the modern day prince Harry and train to fly an Apache Gunship, hunting raggedy men in the hills of a hot country? I’m getting off topic again.
Coming in Part 5, side scrolling beat’em ups, the Japanese get weird again and something else about me sat on my arse pressing buttons.