Call it a rant. Call it nitpicking but I detest it when I see Mario Kart abbreviated as MK on message boards. Oh I feel strongly enough about this I have ben banned from a number of websites for angrily pointing out to people that MK represents Mortal Kombat. The video game franchise that I once told people was my absolute favorite, before Minecraft. So how did I get into Mortal Kombat in the first place? How did it fade into obscurity in my world? What am I doing to revive my interest in the game? And why did I dislike the new remake/reboot film so much? I suppose I could do a full dedicated podcast episode to this theme in the near future. In the meantime I will walk the plank of nostalgia while I reminisce my entire past love affair with this ultra violent fighting game series.
It started with a song on the radio. I turned on 93.1 FM in central Kansas. It was the radio station that played the most current hottest music at the time. The song “Techno Syndrome” by the Immortals blasted over my radio speakers. It was my first exposure to the words “Mortal Kombat.” It wouldn’t take long before I got to experience the video game for itself. Nothing brings me more nostalgia than all the hours I sank into playing the first two iterations on my Sega Genesis. It was a fantastic time.
What initially drew me to the game wasn’t the violence to be perfectly honest. The arcade machine I played was at our local bar. It was in a small town called Miltonvale, Kansas. The machine had the blood and Fatalities turned off. You couldn’t even uppercut an opponent off the pit stage. The reason I was enamored by that first arcade game was actually the digital graphics.
Although primitive by todays standards those digital motion captured images of real martial artists in elaborate costumes played into my Hollywood sensibilities. As an aspiring filmmaker and movie buff I thought it was a beautiful technology. I was so drawn to the FMV sequences in the character bios in the games attract mode I would eventually go out of my way to buy a Sega CD so I could enjoy all those fabulous FMV games on the system, including a near arcade-perfect translation of the game.
Before all of that could take hold I have to talk about the day I got the first two games on Sega Genesis. It was Christmas 1994. My 12th birthday had barely passed a mere few months ago. My parents had gotten me a Sega Genesis 16-bit game console for my birthday along with two games, Toe Jam and Earl 2 Panic on Funkotron, and the pack in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I had expected they would buy me at least one more game for Christmas. I had begged them if they got me one game to make it MKII. It was the most recent one out as MK3 was still good 6 months out. I remember that Christmas morning like it was yesterday. I opened up a box that had not one, not two but THREE Sega carts inside for my enjoyment. The first two were Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II.
Up to this point I had already dropped dozens, nay hundreds of quarters into various MK and MKII machines over the span of about 2 years. I got a job raking leaves to earn extra quarters to drop into those machines. I was obsessed. I even remember renting MKII from the local video rental store/video arcade called The Hang Out numerous times. I suppose my parents figured buying me the game would save them tremendous amounts of money. They were half right lol.
I became ultra obsessed with Mortal Kombat. By the time I learned a live action feature film was on the horizon nothing was going to stop me from experiencing that movie. I won’t get into the debate on that films merits. I enjoyed it let’s move on. I also quickly discovered and began purchasing Mortal Kombat action figures. I even began kit-bashing my other non MK action figures INTO MK characters. I started by turning a Goomba figure from the 1993 Super Mario Bros. live action move into none other than Baraka. I kit bashed a vintage (read expensive and rare today) Sgt. Slaughter figure from the original 1980s G.I. Joe A Real American Hero toy into a Kung Lao. To say I was into Mortal Kombat would be an understatement.
I followed my love of the game franchise through the next few hardware generations. I lined up to play MK3, UMK3 and MK4 in arcades. I made friends with the only kid in town who had a Dreamcast just so I could get my hands on Mortal Kombat Gold. By the time I bought Sony Playstation and N64 game consoles I was buying Mortal Kombat Trilogy for both, MK4 also for both, Mythologies: Sub Zero on N64 and Mortal Kombat Special Forces on Playstation. The day I bought my Nintendo GameCube among the first games I bought was Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance.
Things began to slow down for me following MK5. I skipped Deception due to childish gamer politics surrounding the GameCube and it’s lack of online features. I was dumb. As a result I began boycotting all things Playstation for the following few years thus missing out on Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks and Armageddon until it showed up on Wii. By then I was already over it. The franchise had lost it’s grip on me. Mostly this was due to the fact I spent the better part of the previous decade digging deep into emulation just so I could finally get to play an arcade perfect version in my bedroom. I achieved this first via MAME then through a compilation for the GameCube titled Midway’s Arcade Treasures Volume 2. By this time I discovered I was more into the 2D games than the 3D ones. I decided MK4 and Deadly Alliance were the only 3D ones I cared about.
This would change once I overcame my hatred of all things Playstation the day I bought a PS3. Again I quickly purchased Mortal Kombat 2009 for PS3 followed immediately by grabbing a used cop of MK Trilogy for PS1 to play on my PS3 console. It was all I could do to contain myself. The fire fizzled out again mere hours after downloading the over priced Mortal Kombat X for PS4. Since then I have lost all interest in the franchise including the klassic games. At this point I have a mixture of odd nostalgia combined with some conflicted feelings from my past I dare not revisit.
To this day I don’t care for the games any more. I stopped watching the movie. I lost my toys long ago. I no longer collect the games or memorabilia like I once had done. Today marks a return to form for me. I finally broke down and allowed myself to enjoy something related to Mortal Kombat for the first time in more than two years. I can’t say that I have rekindled my old flame. What I can say is there is a spark there trying to restore my previous passion for this once beloved franchise. Only time will tell if I can bring myself to digging deeper into it more than just dusting of a few cloudy memories for this article. Either way nothing could have prepared me for the day I lost interest in my one favorite video game franchise of all time. Life is funny like that.