To say the least, Mortal Kombat and Nintendo have been strange bed-fellows over the years.
MK is still one of those franchises that I love. While the excitement of the arcade days has long since passed its legacy lives on. Even today, Mortal Kombat is a multi-million dollar franchise. What started as a simple 2D project morphed to a huge empire of films, merchandise and of course more games. While there are only a handful of series that I follow religiously, MK is definitely one of them.
But as the arcade days gave way to the home console rise, one company has had its ups and downs with the legendary fighter. I’m referring to our friends at Nintendo.
Translating the arcade experience to a game system sitting in your living room isn’t always an easy task. Fortunately, this is one series that not only made the jump well, but has held up over the years. If I close my eyes right now, I can still see that crazy commercial where the teenagers pile into the streets screaming, “MORTAL KOMBAT…MORTAL KOMBAT!” However, while other systems embraced the gritty, dark edge of the franchise, Nintendo seemed too struggled with its relationship with Mortal Kombat early on. This would mark the beginning of a storied partnership between the two companies, resulting in some memorable moments in gaming history (both good and bad).
So let’s take a quick look back at just a few of those milestones that came out of this unique pairing. You’re about to witness what happens when worlds collide…
The Super Nintendo-No Blood Policy:
When it came time for Midway to translate the arcade smash to home consoles, Nintendo’s family friendly image became the first roadblock. Gamers found that many of the familiar fatalities were removed (replaced with more PG renditions for the SNES). Also, the blood (which made the game so memorable in the first place) was now gone, swapped out for grey “sweat.” This led to the infamous ABACABB blood code, causing the Sega Genesis release to become the preferred copy amongst fans (even though its visuals and sound were FAR worse than the superior SNES version).
First Playable Boss Character in Series History:
To some of you young whippersnappers out there, the concept of unlocking the boss character as a selectable fighter might seem old hat. However, back in the early ‘90s, this was a huge deal! Reptile was of course the most well-known hidden character (who didn’t become playable until the sequel). Later, the next-gen would make unlocking the boss a standard feature, but it was actually the Game Boy that did it first. Via a secret code, the primitive handheld did something that arcade goers and Sega/Nintendo fans had only dreamed: it allowed you to play as the four-armed Shokan Goro. Who knew that the Game Boy (of all things) would be so ahead of its time?
“Get Over Here!” Motion-Sensing Technology:
With next-gen gadgets like the Kinect (or even the Sony Morpheus looking to bring VR into your living room) some might forget how revolutionary and creative the Wii-remote originally was. I remember seeing it and thinking to myself, "this thing is never going to work." Sure enough, along came Mortal Kombat Armageddon in 2007 for the Wii. For the first time, it forced you to actually act out the motion of the moves (rather than just button mash). I admit this freely: throwing my hand towards the TV as if I were Scorpion (and yes I yelled his iconic phrase as I did it) was a pretty fun moment. The game itself wasn’t the best, but Nintendo deserves props for injecting a fun new innovation into the then-aging title.
FINISH HIM! The End of an Era:
Looking back, Mortal Kombat has certainly provided us with some interesting experiences when partnered with Nintendo. Unfortunately, it looks like “looking back” is all we’ll be able to do. Co-creator Ed Boon recently responded to a fan via Twitter who asked if there were any chance he’d consider bringing the original MK games to the Wii U’s virtual console. His response? A resounding 0.0% chance. Damn…I’d say that’s fairly definitive. In addition, we also now hear of a recently canceled HD version that was previously in the works (although Boon has hinted at a possible MK II Director’s Cut). It’s obvious we’ll see another entry in the series of some kind in the future, it’s just very unlikely Nintendo will be involved (unless a handheld port for the 3DS comes about).
Even if Nintendo ends up getting out of the console race before a new MK rolls around, I’ll always remember their contributions (right or wrong) to the history of my favorite fighting game. I have fond memories of the summer I spent locked in my room with just me, my Super Nintendo and Mortal Kombat 3 to pass the time (which is still one of my favorites out there).
I can think of no better way to end than with…Flawless Victory…Friendship…