round one. fight!

Most of what I could say will be, pretty much, a repetition of statements already given by the usual suspects. In brief:

  • Mortal Kombat seemed dead after MK3

  • I thought I had, along with everyone else, outgrown MK

  • MK was not meant to be played in 3D

  • I was mostly wrong on all three points

I will elaborate.

I played a little Mortal Kombat here and there, when it was first around. I played it at the grocery, I played it in the mall, I played it at the movies. I didn’t play it a lot, but I probably played twenty dollars worth of it, or so.

When MK2 came out, I started playing more and more of it, especially at the local pool hall and at the mall, on breaks from work. I got pretty good with Baraka and Sub-Zero. MK3 was pretty daunting, and I was totally creamed the first few times I played. Eventually, though – around the release of MK3 Ultimate – I could beat the game at Master level and had a decent proficiency with many characters. I played a lot of Cyrix. I even bought a copy for my PC.

Once I was at college, though, I stopped having money to throw at MK3 (or access to the insides of the machine), and it was out of arcades before I did. By then, Tekken was king, and it seemed like it or something like Bushido Blade would be the future. MK3, which had been a lot of fun, seemed almost juvenile in comparison.

Once MK4 came out, I saw that I was right: MK4 tried to move into 3D, but it just wasn’t Mortal Kombat anymore. It was some other game with semi-familiar characters. The combat system still involved a lot of button mashing, and playing it just wasn’t fun. Meanwhile, the N64 got the awful “Mortal Kombat Trilogy” and the mind-bendingly terrible “Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero.” Does anyone else remember that? For God’s sake, it was a side-scrolling /hallway fighter/ slash RPG, featuring a /Mortal Kombat character/! What were they smoking?

Well, I rented MK5 only because I heard it was more like a classic MK game; despite its 3Dness, it is. It is also, as I heard, much more complex, control-wise, than its predecessors. When I look at the “moves list” at the pause menu, it is pages and pages long. I haven’t figured out how to make Sub-Zero do the freezy thing yet, but I’ll get there.

Part of what makes the fighting so complicated and interesting is the fighting styles. I can tell Subbie to switch from shaolin to karate to using a Big Honkin’ Sword. I can flip through these quickly, and I’m guessing that I’ll find there are ways to chain together combos using moves from more than one style.

So far, my favorite thing is to impale my opponant on my sword and let go, leaving them to bleed to death as the round progresses.

The big – and I mean big – shortcoming is that, so far, I have found no way to use the control stick to play. The game wants me to use the D-pad. I understand that this kind of game really wants four-direction controls. I get it. Why can’t it know that I get it and let me use the control stick to simulate those? The D-pad on the GCN is about the size of a thumb tack, and using it for precision control blows. Maybe Midway didn’t pay enough attention to GCN-specific concerns, or maybe I’m just a pansy and should deal with it.

Either way, I’ll definitely be playing more. There is /so/ much stuff to unlock, and I’m a sucker for unlocking stuff in fighters. I want to find Cyrix!

Written on January 19, 2003
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