Games of My Youth: Mortal Kombat

11 min read

Welcome to a trip down memory lane. As you’re already aware, I’ve dedicated one part of my blog to my childhood favorites and today’s article is no different. Today we are going to rediscover Mortal Kombat, a titan in the video game industry. Since its inception in 1992, this iconic fighting game series has revolutionized the landscape of gaming. Its innovative mix of strategy, skill, and a dash of gore have kept players captivated for decades.

From the unforgettable fatalities to the thrilling gameplay, Mortal Kombat’s appeal transcends generations. With an impressive roster of unique characters, each with their distinct abilities, it’s no surprise the game has amassed a loyal following.

Join me and relive the excitement, the challenges, and the sheer fun of Mortal Kombat, a nostalgic journey that beckons us back to the golden era of gaming. This trip is not just about reminiscing the past, but also appreciating how far we’ve come in the realm of interactive entertainment. Buckle up, because this ride is as exciting as a flawless victory!

The Evolution of Mortal Kombat: A Memory Lane

Mortal Kombat’s journey from its debut in 1992 to today’s state-of-the-art iteration reflects the evolution of video games as a whole. From pixelated characters in the first release, we’ve progressed to high-definition 3D models, displaying a rich tapestry of gaming advancements.

The inaugural Mortal Kombat set the stage with its unique fighting mechanics and character-driven narratives. It introduced us to memorable heroes and villains who were more than just digital avatars. They had personalities, backstories, and unique fighting styles that made the game a comprehensive and immersive experience.

Over the years, Mortal Kombat has undergone significant changes, with each new release adding innovative features, expanding the lore, and refining the gameplay. The introduction of the combo system in Mortal Kombat 3 was a game-changer, adding a new layer of strategy to fights. Mortal Kombat X took things a step further with the introduction of character variations, each with unique moves and abilities.

Mortal Kombat 12 – aka Mortal Kombat 1 –  the latest installment, showcases the most refined gameplay mechanics in the series, with intricately designed characters and stages, a comprehensive story mode, and even a custom character variation system.

Tracing the evolution of Mortal Kombat is like walking through a museum of video game history, with each version marking a new milestone in an ongoing journey of creativity and innovation.

The Original Mortal Kombat: A Blast from the Past

Step into the time machine and let’s travel back to 1992 when the original Mortal Kombat made its mark on the gaming world.

Upon its arrival, Mortal Kombat was unlike anything we’d seen before. Its gritty, realistic style set it apart and its innovative gameplay had us hooked. The game’s unique combat system, with high and low kicks, punches, and the infamous fatal blows, added a layer of depth that was missing from other fighting games of the time.

The roster of seven playable characters, each with their distinctive moves and backstories, was a refreshing change. We all remember the ice-cold Sub-Zero, the fiery Scorpion, the thunder god Raiden, and the brave Earthrealm warrior Liu Kang. These characters, with their unique abilities and compelling narratives, quickly became our favorites.

The game’s distinctive feature, however, was the introduction of fatalities. These brutal, yet mesmerizing finishing moves left us in awe and kept us coming back for more. The original Mortal Kombat was a game-changer, setting a new standard for fighting games. It was more than a game; it was an unforgettable experience that still resonates with gamers today. Let’s cherish the memories and pay tribute to the game that started it all.

Heroes and Villains: Mortal Kombat Characters

The world of Mortal Kombat is populated by a diverse range of characters, each with their own unique abilities, strengths, and stories. These heroes and villains, with their distinctive personalities and roles, serve as the heart and soul of the game. Let’s dive into some of the most popular characters:

Liu Kang 

The brave warrior from Earthrealm, Liu Kang is known for his incredible martial arts skills. With his signature fireball and flying kick, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Johnny Cage 

Hollywood action star turned fighter, Johnny Cage is as known for his flashy fighting style as his cocky attitude. His shadow kick and green energy projectiles are a crowd favorite.

Sonya Blade 

A strong and determined Special Forces officer, Sonya Blade fights for justice. Her energy rings and leg grab are formidable moves against any opponent.


The thunder god and protector of Earthrealm, Raiden uses his control over electricity to defeat his enemies. His teleportation and lightning attacks make him a powerful ally.


A specter seeking vengeance, Scorpion’s signature move, the spear, is one of the most iconic in the game. His ability to summon fire also makes him a formidable opponent.


The icy assassin from the Lin Kuei clan, Sub-Zero can freeze his enemies solid, setting them up for a punishing attack. His ice clone also provides strategic defensive options.


The four-armed Prince of the Shokan, Goro is a boss character known for his incredible strength and brutal fighting style.

Shang Tsung

The scheming sorcerer, Shang Tsung, can absorb souls and shapeshift into any character, making him a unpredictable adversary.

Each character in Mortal Kombat adds their own flavor to the game, making every match a unique experience. Whether you’re fighting for the fate of Earthrealm or seeking personal vengeance, these characters ensure that every round is filled with excitement and suspense.

Old Mortal Kombat: The Game We Loved

There’s a certain charm about the old Mortal Kombat games that has carved a special place in our hearts. The pixelated graphics, the clunky, yet satisfying controls, and the simplistic, but engaging gameplay made these games an absolute joy to play.

The old Mortal Kombat games were trailblazers in their time, introducing us to the concept of fatalities – brutal finishing moves that were both shocking and spectacular. These have remained a staple in the franchise, evolving over the years into more elaborate and cinematic displays of brutality.

The character roster, though limited compared to today’s versions, was filled with iconic and memorable fighters. From the icy Sub-Zero to the fiery Scorpion, each character had a unique fighting style and a captivating backstory. These characters have stood the test of time, consistently appearing in the newer versions and retaining their distinct identities.

The old games’ storyline, centered around the interdimensional tournament of Mortal Kombat, was simple yet compelling. This core narrative has been expanded upon in the newer versions, adding depth and complexity to the Mortal Kombat universe.

Despite the technical advancements and added features of the newer versions, the old Mortal Kombat games’ essence remains. The thrilling fights, memorable characters, and captivating narrative continue to make Mortal Kombat a beloved franchise among gamers worldwide.

Diving into the Excitement: Mortal Kombat Gameplay

The essence of Mortal Kombat lies in its engaging gameplay that requires both skill and strategy. The game revolves around one-on-one fights, with each character flaunting their unique abilities and special moves.

The rules are straightforward: reduce your opponent’s health bar to zero within the given time limit. If both fighters are still standing when time runs out, the one with more health wins. A match typically consists of multiple rounds, and the first to win two rounds becomes the victor.

The mechanics of Mortal Kombat are a blend of simple controls and complex strategies. High and low attacks coupled with blocking mechanisms contribute to the game’s depth. You need to anticipate your opponent’s moves and respond swiftly, making each fight a thrilling dance of prediction and reaction.

Special moves are the game-changers, adding a layer of complexity to the gameplay. Each character has a unique set of these powerful moves, like Scorpion’s spear or Sub-Zero’s ice blast. Learning to use these special moves effectively is crucial in gaining an upper hand.

The gameplay intensifies with the introduction of “Fatalities,” Mortal Kombat’s signature finishing moves. These brutal sequences, triggered at the end of the final round, are a spectacle of their own. Mastering the precise input for these finishers is a challenge, but the reward is a stunning display of your character’s power.

The strategic layering in Mortal Kombat’s gameplay keeps the excitement alive. The combination of simple rules, complex mechanics, and spectacular finishers makes each fight a thrilling experience. Whether you’re a casual gamer or a competitive player, Mortal Kombat’s gameplay promises a fun and intense ride.

The Gameplay of the Original Mortal Kombat: Then and Now

The evolution of Mortal Kombat’s gameplay from its original version to the current one is a testament to the game’s growth. The original Mortal Kombat, launched in the early 90s, set the foundation with a primary focus on one-on-one fights. It introduced us to an intuitive control scheme, with a button assigned for each high and low punch and kick.

The current version, while retaining the essence of the original, has transformed into a more complex and immersive experience. The special moves and Fatalities, once a series of complex button inputs, are now executed through simpler combinations, making them more accessible to players.

The original Mortal Kombat had a limited roster of seven characters. Today, the game boasts a vast array of characters, each with their unique abilities, providing a rich diversity in gameplay.

The graphics and animation have also seen a significant upgrade. From the pixelated 2D characters of the original to the lifelike 3D models of the current version, the visual evolution is spectacular.

The original’s iconic “Test Your Might” mini-game, where players broke boards, stones, and eventually diamonds, is replaced with more varied and cinematic mini-games in the recent versions.

In essence, Mortal Kombat has grown from an arcade classic into a comprehensive fighting simulator, continually improving while staying true to its roots. The journey from then to now is a fascinating tale of innovation and evolution.

The Impact of Mortal Kombat on Video Games

Mortal Kombat has left an indelible mark on the landscape of video games. Its influence permeates through game design, storytelling, and the evolution of the fighting game genre.

In terms of game design, Mortal Kombat broke new ground with its photorealistic digitized graphics, a stark departure from the cartoonish visuals prevalent in the early ’90s. Its lifelike characters and detailed backgrounds brought a new level of realism to video games, setting a trend that many future titles would follow.

Mortal Kombat’s storytelling also set a benchmark. Its rich lore and well-developed characters were unique for a fighting game, offering players a deeper connection beyond the visceral combat. It introduced a narrative-driven approach to the genre, demonstrating that storylines weren’t just for RPGs or adventure games. This approach was revolutionary and has since become a standard in the industry.

However, Mortal Kombat’s most significant impact has been on the fighting game genre itself. It introduced unique gameplay elements like Fatalities, brutal finishing moves that added a new layer of strategy and spectacle to each match. This concept was so influential that it’s hard to find a fighting game today that doesn’t have some form of finishing move.

Moreover, Mortal Kombat’s approach to character design, with each character having a unique set of moves and abilities, contributed to the diversity and depth in gameplay, influencing the design of future fighting games.

The Lasting Legacy of Mortal Kombat: More than Just a Game

Jaime Chapoy (jrchapoy), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mortal Kombat’s legacy transcends the realm of video games, permeating popular culture. Its characters, like Scorpion and Sub-Zero, have become iconic figures, symbolizing the game’s lasting impact. Mortal Kombat’s catchphrases, such as “Finish Him!” and “Fatality,” are ingrained in the minds of gamers worldwide, showcasing its cultural resonance.

But what makes Mortal Kombat’s legacy enduring? Its continually evolving gameplay and deep narrative serve as major draws. The game’s ability to stay relevant, introducing innovative features while preserving its core appeal, contributes to its sustained popularity. The unique blend of strategy, action, and narrative depth keeps players coming back, year after year.

Ultimately, Mortal Kombat’s lasting legacy is a testament to its innovative design, engaging gameplay, and captivating storytelling. It’s more than just a game; it’s a cultural phenomenon that continues to shape the landscape of video gaming.

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