It was the fall of 1992 and I didn’t know it yet but my life was about to change. I was just at home doing nothing being your typical fourteen year old when the phone rang, it was my best friend on the other line excitedly telling me about this new game he just played at the local golfland. He proceeded to tell me about how you could kill people after you beat them and some dude at the arcade finished him off by ripping his heart from his chest and taking a bite out of his warm still beating blood pumper. I was in disbelief but at the same time didn’t really believe such an awesome piece of gaming existed. I spent the next few weeks hitting every spot that I could reach on public transportation. If you had cabinets I was there. Arcades, liquor stores, laundry mats, movie theaters, frozen yogurt shops, it didn’t matter your business if I could put quarters in it I was there.
After about a week and some change into my quest to put all other quests to shame I had found my holy grail! A chance trip to one of the local malls with my mom for whatever unknown goods she required at the time brought me face to face with MORTAL KOMBAT. As I approached it I looked it up and down like some sort of hot girl I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Eight way directional joysticks with five buttons and some kung fu guy busting a jump kick on the side. All I could think is, what’s the big deal? Street fighter 2 has six buttons and eight characters not seven! And what’s with this crappy block button anyways? I felt so let down, all this hype and this is what I get?
In my sheer disappointment I completely missed the awesome ground breaking (at the time) digitized real players and the spurts of blood being released on contact. I really hadn’t even paid any attention to the game play until I heard those two little words come out the speakers “FINISH HIM” I instantly looked up to witness the screen go black and Johnny Cage knock his opponents head off! That was it, I had to drop my quarter in the slot and try my luck. Needles to say I was outmatched and instantly destroyed then quickly set a blaze by my opponent. Even in defeat I could not get over the sheer violence that made this game awesome to play.
Sure we’ve had violent coin ops before. N.A.R.C. allowed us to arrest junkies, pick up baggies of blow and bundles of cash all while being shot with heroin needles and destroying grow ops. Splatter house gave us all kinds of creepy gore and there was a four player side scrolling game that you could get kicked in the balls. But none of those games gave you the same level of violence MORTAL KOMBAT did. It combined the vs. fighting style of street fighter but added tons of blood along with the option to kill your opponent as opposed to just beating them. It changed the way violence was accepted among gamers and pushed the limit on what was possible to add to a game. I would have never thought back then that I’d be able to rip someone’s head from their body, spine and all in a game. It had never crossed my mind I would uppercut someone into a pit of spikes just so I could watch their body spew buckets of blood. On top of all that it introduced an all new style of gaming engine utilizing motion capture and real images to construct the game itself. At that time nothing had that. I actually had a chance to play it the other day at the bowling alley and as old as it is I still enjoyed every minute of it!
P.S. I was still a bit disappointed that Kano didn’t take a bite out that still beating heart he held proudly above his head.