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Antstream Arcade Archive: Mortal Kombat

In our latest Antstream Arcade Archive series, we take a look at another specific retro game from the Antstream Arcade vault, giving you the lowdown on its plot, gameplay, tips and more. This week we are proud to athletically jump back to Mortal Kombat, the infamous beat-‘em-up that revolutionised the genre in the early Nineties and gave rise to several iconic characters. Prepare yourself!

Mortal Kombaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!

That’s the spirit! Mortal Kombat was so much more than a mere arcade game back in the early Nineties. With a sizeable marketing budget (reportedly two million pounds in the UK alone), adverts for the home conversions of the Midway game appeared in cinemas and on TV, giving the beat-‘em-up a public awareness that was rarely seen at the time. These spots often had random young people calling out the game’s name in a dramatic call to arms.

So what’s the story?

Set in an alternative universe, Mortal Kombat takes place on the deceptively bucolic Shang Tsung Island, Earthrealm, and focuses on a bloody tournament between some of the world’s most fearsome warriors. Characters both human and fantastical face off against each other for progress throughout the competition, and the right to take on the quadruple-armed monster Goro. Together with his master, Shang Tsung, Goro is attempting to enslave Earthrealm – one brave fighter must defeat them both to ensure the world remains free.

It doesn’t look much like a game from the early Nineties…

That’s because Mortal Kombat is one of the more famous games that utilised Midway’s digitising technology instead of hand-drawn sprites. The photo-realistic graphics add another dimension to the gameplay, as does the addition of blood and the gory finishing moves.

Those character names look familiar.

Many of Mortal Kombat’s participants have entered into gaming folklore and beyond thanks to the success of the original and its many sequels. Some of them look similar as they are ‘palette swaps’, a memory saving technique that swaps out colours while keeping the base graphics the same. The more memorable fighters include lightning god Raiden and the agile Sonya Blade.

So how do I actually fight?

In order to eliminate the opponent, their health bar must be completely diminished in a best-of-three bout. Each character has a generic collection of attacks together with its own set of moves and can also strikes from their opponent. Special moves can be discovered by experimenting with joystick and button configurations, while combinations of standard moves and blocking is a good way of defeating your opponent. There is also a block-breaking mini game to test your stamina in-between levels.

All that blood! That can’t have gone down well back then?

No it didn’t, and there were several Congressional hearings on videogame violence shortly after Mortal Kombat’s release, with concerns in particular over its blood and realistic graphics. The result of these meetings was the industry’s self-regulatory body, the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Gamers loved the realism though, and Mortal Kombat was a smash hit.

How can I avoid getting ‘finished’?

Blocking is key and has its own dedicated button in Mortal Kombat, giving defence and the subsequent counter attack a much higher profile. Working out the special moves is also vital, with most characters possessing a ranged attack that’s useful for when a match goes down to the wire. In order to win, the player needs to best seven warriors (including a mirror image fight against themselves) before defeating Goro and the final boss, Shang Tsung himself.

Who’s bossing Mortal Kombat on Antstream Arcade?

It’s a popular game, so there’s a lot of tough competition on the Mortal Kombat leaderboard. In third place is BYGoodGuy1 with 5,303,500 points, just behind MelonGasoil with 6,105,000. Leading the pack, however, is Gypsy Dave with a fantastic score of 8,837,500. No-one argues with Gypsy Dave.

I’m still traumatized from a cinema trip to see Super Mario Bros. Should I watch the Mortal Kombat movie?

Released in 1995 and directed by Paul W. Anderson, the original Mortal Kombat film follows the wafer-thin plot of the game, gathering all the familiar names together for another battle for the freedom of Earthrealm. With its relentless action and a semi-decent cast, it’s a fun 100 minutes of high-kickin’ action which should satisfy fans. Following 1997’s sequel, a new movie is due for release shortly.

Is there anything similar available on Antstream Arcade?

Oh yeah! Fighting games are one of the most popular genres on Antstream Arcade, so there’s a wealth of options if you’re looking for a one-on-one scrap. Sticking in the arcades, there’s Data East’s Karate Champ and Fighter’s History Dynamite. Away from the coin-ops you should play the Melbourne House classic, Way Of The Exploding Fist (Spectrum and Commodore 64) or the bizarre Sega Mega Drive game, ClayFighter.

Watch out for another Antstream Arcade Archive soon!

MORTAL KOMBAT KLASSIC and all related characters and elements © & TM Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s21) Easter Egg

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