MK March Retrospective

3/31/2017

The Mortal March Retrospective

Well, it’s definitely been an amazing month.  From discussion the tier lists for the original games – and my god, I realize I could happily talk matchups all day and never tire of it – to running through the later, awfuler, badder, worster games, it was a glorious march here at skkra.com.

I’ve learned the following things about myself while writing this:

  • I don’t care if MK2 Reptile is a total piece of garbage character.  I’m much happier playing him for the pure love of the character than winning consistently.
  • MK3 is a way, way more fun game than I originally realized.
  • The middle years, aka the dark ages, of MK had some truly awful characters in them.  Uninteresting, uninspired crap.

MK March The MK Movie

3/30/2017

What better way to wind down Mortal March than discussing the Mortal Kombat movie?  It’s probably the greatest video game movie adaptation of all time… I’m not sure what that says, good or bad, but it’s certainly the case.

The movie stars That Asian Dude who was in a ton of B movies during the 1990s.  It also stars That Chick who was in a ton of stuff around then, but no one knows her name.  Everyone just remembers her from Billy Madison.

The movie itself is pretty solid.  It’s entertaining as heck, even if the fights are fairly terrible by todays standards.  The movie was notable for its soundtrack though – it’s what introduced me to Fear Factory – and having a thousand amazing one liners.

“Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole.”  CLASSIC.  I can’t even get myself started.

MK March MKX

3/29/2017

2015 rolled around, and so did MKX.  MKX built upon MK9 but added in a bunch of new excellence.

First off, we got “interactables,” which was a concept borrowed from another NetherRealm Studios game, Injustice, which allows you to interact with the stage backgrounds at certain points on the screen.  I actually thought this was an excellent implementation of the concept, and added another layer of depth to stage positioning.

This game not only had a greatly expanded roster with a bunch of cool new characters, but we got a delightful cast of returning characters as well.  Furthermore, each character was almost like THREE characters, since they introduced the Variation System in an effort to solve matchup problems.  Lets say, for example, that Sub Zero has a problem fighting against Kitana.  Kitana’s toolset just happens to match up very well against Sub Zero, and he generally gets dominated in the fight.  The variation system attempts to remedy this by giving each character 3 different “grooves” of sorts to choose from: each variation has a large standard set of moves that is common to Sub Zero, but each variation has several unique normal and special attacks that separate it from the others.  This allows you be a character specialist, but hopefully find the necessary counter tools to handle bad matchups.

I liked almost everything about this game.  The thing I have to give NetherRealm the most credit for, however, is not what they did to appeal to the hardcore players (though it does) – it’s what they did to appeal to casual players.

The game has SO MUCH CONTENT that keeps players coming back.  There was a massive and entertaining single player story, complete with fully voice-acted in-engine cutscenes.  There is a new Challenge Tower every week, which is a single-player set of pre-determined fights to challenge players.  There is the online Faction War system, where you fight for your particular faction each month, then get rewards based on the overall performance of ALL online players in your faction.  There are daily challenges, like Get 5 Brutalities.

Lastly, there is an entirely separate mode called The Krypt, which is where you use in-game gold (earned through simply playing the game) to unlock all finishing moves, development art, alter outfits, etc etc.  This mode is a full little first person game where you’re exploring a pretty damn large world, complete with its own secrets and quests.

All in all, this was a spectacular effort by NRS, and honestly, all other game developers should take notes: THIS is how you engage casual players.  The one thing that they needed to do was have an in-game way to alert players about the tournament scene, and upcoming events.  That is the best way to turn casual players into tournament players, or at least eSports viewers.

MK March MK9

3/28/2017

MK9!

OK.  I’m not going to lie, I’m going to skip over MK vs DC, which was non-canon crossover title.  I didn’t find the game at all interesting, and since it wasn’t part of the MK storyline, I’m skipping it entirely.

Lets move right to 2011 though.  What an amazing year: it was the year that MK made it’s triumphant return to form.  The game was known as MK9, though when released it was simply titled MORTAL KOMBAT.  The game was actually a reboot of sorts, and basically combined events and characters from MK 1, 2, and 3, rebooting it into modern times.  And what a reboot it was.

The game massively exceeded my expectations.  It was gorgeous, fast, and fun.  The cast of characters was perfect, even if the game balance ultimately wasnt, with the game being dominated at the competitive level by a small handful of the top tiers.

My favorite characters ended up being the low tiers like Stryker and Ermac.  Ermac is one of my favorite characters, and MK9 Ermac was my favorite execution of his concept.  Heck, I liked it so much that I’ll even put him high up on my favorite MK characters of all time!  Which would be:
#1 – MK2 Reptile
#2 – MK9 Ermac
#3 – MK3 Sektor
#4 – MK1 Kano
#5 – MKX Sub Zero

Anyways, back to MK9.  This game did everything right, in many ways.  It revitalized the MK brand by bringing the title back into relevence.  It was a tournament staple with a vibrant scene of awesome characters.  And it paved the way for MKX!…

Final story: I actually played MK9 competitively for a brief period.  While I’m more or less retired from playing fighting games competitively at this point – I’m just too old to dedicate the kind of time necessary – I did give it a go one more time in 2011 for this game.  I attended a few tournaments, would go to player’s houses to actually practice with local competition, and spent a ton of time on the message boards learning the game in and out.

I had a pretty decent MK9 Ermac.  Famously, I almost got out of my pool at Evo 2011 on the losers side of the bracket… I believe I was 1 game away from qualifying.  EVen more famously, I played my entire pool at Evo while completely hammered out of my mind – I had literally stayed up the entire night before drinking, and decided that I’d make my 8am pool instead of sleeping.  I was clearly hammered (I was yelling at full volume, taunting my opponents, yelling at the crowd) which usually results in disqualification, but luckily the guy running my pool though I was hilarious, and not only let me play, but also let me play every single match of my pool in a row.  I guess he saw that I had a very limited shelf life before my brain exploded and wanted to get my matches out of the way.

MK March Mortal Kombat Armageddon

3/27/2017

Well, we’re finally hitting the last of the Shitty Mortal Kombat games.  Here, we have MK: Armageddon.

This game kept a lot of elements from the previous games… whiiiich it turns out is exactly what I hated about the previous games.  Characters still had multiple fighting styles and many of the same system mechanics were in place.  That’s actually not all bad, because they had some good ideas.

The storyline of the game involves the Elder Gods feeling that there are too many powerful warriors now.  Some need to die in order to restore balance.  To thin the pack, they use somethingorother as bait to lure all the warriors into one place, where they’ll surely rip each other to shreds.

So, who is in this game?  PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE, EVER.  The game has fucking 62 playable characters, which I have to admit is both impressive and completely insane.  Even all of the characters from MK4 like Kai and fucking Jarek are in it.  It literally has everyone who has ever been a playable character from all past MK games up to this point.  Nuts.

That said, a bunch of characters were “clone” characters, where they were fairly similar to other, main-er characters.  Kind of how you have Ryu, Ken, Akuma, Sagat, and Dan in Street Fighter 4, or Mario, Luigi, Dr. Mario, and Wario in Smash Brothers.  Yeah, they DO all play differently in the end, but they can certainly end up feeling like clone characters due to the general similarity in the movesets.