Kombat for Sale

With the news that troubled publisher, Midway, are considering selling their venerable Mortal Kombat franchise to help bail them out, it gives rise to speculation as to the future (if any) for Raiden and co.  Back in 1992, Mortal Kombat arose as a rival to Capcom’s more colourful sprites and family friendly battles in Street Fighter 2 and stepped firmly into the realm of gratuitous (and arguably gratifying) gore, creating an altogether more graphic and dark experience.   The game took beat em ups to a different place, with people willing to learn finger wrenchingly ridiculous ‘finishing moves’ just to see a spinal column ripped out and bickering with Street Fighter stalwarts over which had the better gameplay, based on the moves – Street Fighter’s often hard to pull off normal moves, as opposed to the easier learning curve of Mortal’s Kombat’s versus it’s tough finishing moves.

The graphics divided gamers just as much – gone was the vibrant, cartoony look of Street Fighter’s markets and aircraft hangars and in came digitised sprites based on actors, pits of spikes, and gloomy lairs.  It’s seven original characters all had requisite back-stories to bring some sense of order to the Kaos (sorry) and more importantly, each had what would become the game’s biggest and most controversial draw – fatalities.

Magazines ran pages of move listings and complicated finish him/her’ button presses, complete with screenshots of the blood splashes, decapitations, and inevitable posturing.  Parents choked, teens loved it, and a franchise was born.  Sequels inevitably followed and the original seven characters had swelled by more than double by the third game, with more and more endgame additions such as Babalities, Animalities, and oddly, a Mercy mode.  Kombat Kodes were added to the game’s start where the player had a limited time in which to input in a combination in order to unlock secrets and new modes, and the wagon trundled on.  And on.  Flash forward to 2008 when another spin off from the main franchise was released: Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. 

Just the concept sounded off putting enough…an all powerful Kryptonian and his pals against a very fleshy group largely comprised of mortals?  How is that going to work I asked myself and who was on what when this got green-lighted?  Couldn’t the Mortal Kombat gang have picked a better fight…say, with Capcom’s mob?  After all, it has been the Holy Grail of beat em up wishlists for years and who wouldn’t want to see someone as cheap as Seth getting nad-knuckled by Johnny Cage’s Split Punch? Or Chun Li and Kitana  in a bitch fight to make The Todd weep and seep with joy?


Sadly, I personally feel that like other franchises which start out superbly and become classics, (Sonic the Hedgehog…would you stand up please) Mortal Kombat has suffered from one too many diminishing returns and gimmicks in an attempt to both cash in and keep the fickle and choice laden gaming crowds happy and has ended up, like Sonic, hammering nails into it’s own coffin.  This is likely to continue until someone sits back and rethinks things – but now, this may no longer be an option.

Is a possible forced sale a new beginning or is it the end for Mortal Kombat and it’s mooted ninth incarnation and is there anyone left who cares?  Is it our responsibility as gamers to give a shit?  After all, this was an arguably important franchise back in the day…and we wouldn’t want Sonic to go lonely into the dark night, given his history and contribution to gaming, surely?  Or is it time to just let it go?  Regardless, perhaps Midway is doing the right thing (albeit for the wrong reasons)…and as sad as it may be, sometimes it can be best to sever ties if things are simply not working.

Potentially homeless…will perform fatalities for cash

So who will buy?  The question puts me in mind of a car boot sale, with Sonya and co lying on a pasting table beside some whimsies and old scuba diving equipment.  Will someone buy it and revamp the franchise – dust it down and bring it back with a triumphant fanfare like the recent, delectable Street Fighter 4?  Perhaps.  As someone who used to enjoy Mortal Kombat and it’s characters very much, I think it will be a shame if it falls between the cracks as Midway breaks.  I hope someone can catch this one and run with it.  Time to break out the ‘mum-spit’ tissue, dust down it’s blazer, and give it a hall pass to hell for one last shot.  So someone, anyone, step up and Test Your Might.






7 responses to “Kombat for Sale”

  1. Ben avatar

    I’ve always preferred Mortal Kombat to other fighters, I just think I enjoy the characters a bit more.

    I do hope someone will pick it up, a Mortal Kombat game done well can be so much fun. My only fear is that some big publisher will pick it up then just lock it away in a cupboard for it to never see the light of day again.

    Life would be so much better with a Mortal Kombat stye narrative commenting on everything you do.

  2. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I hope someone does pick it up, just to see what new life a new developer can bring to such a well known franchise. Hopefully, it would be more than just increased boob size with their own boobs physics. (boobs – gives The Todd a mind five)

    Time will tell.

  3. jamesbuc avatar

    It would be intresting to see a proper producer get their mitts on the series.
    Yes Boon. You do suck a duck 🙂

  4. Lordstar avatar

    You can bitch about it being not that great a fighting game but its still despite all its flaws a whole lot of fun to play. I would be surprised if someone did not grab this fat cashcow and save it. As it was Midways biggest game. I know EA could do with another fighting game on there label

  5. Lorna avatar

    I truly hope MK can be brought back better than ever – toasty!

  6. Martin avatar

    I have to say that I hated the original MK games and all of the same motion capture ones, pit fighter etc. But I really liked the vs DC game although it would have been even more awesome if it was Marvel. I would like to see the franchise continue but as a series of vs games, you could have

    vs marvel
    vs aliens and predator
    vs street fighter

    it could be awesome

  7.  avatar

    noooooo please dont! Im happy with MK keeping away from my precious capcom franchise.

    MK vs DC is fine. . . No more thankyou.

    I think MK needs to go back to its roots to really make a good come back. I still love MK2 and UMKT

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