We look back at the history of Mortal Kombat
In part one, we looked back at the first iterations in Midway's legendary series. Now, we cover the emergence of the franchise as a multimedia brand and, arguably, some of the finest titles in the series...
1995 was something of a landmark year for Mortal Kombat, with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 hitting arcades and no less than three MK-related media spin-offs. First of these was, of course, the Mortal Kombat movie. Starring Christopher Lambert (of Highlander fame), along with a host of other (mostly unknown) actors, the movie was actually, in movies-based-on-videogames terms, pretty good - although it did (inevitably) get eviscerated by most mainstream reviewers. Watching the trailer with fresh eyes, you can kinda see where they were coming from:
The lesser-known MK stuff that came out that year included Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm - a cartoon TV series, aimed squarely at kids who were far too young to play the R18 videogames it was based on. Interesting piece of marketing, that... Never seen it? Check out the intro:
Also released in 1995, Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins was another cartoon - this time only released on VHS and the rarely-seen-in-NZ Laser Disc format . It was touted as containing 3D graphics so realistic that you “won’t believe your eyes”, in addition to its otherwise cartoon-based visuals. To see if these claims are backed up by the final article, well... check it out for yourself:
I can only imagine how gutted you, the faithful NZGamer.com reader, will be when you discover that this has never been made available on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, on the other hand, is regarded by many as one of the finest releases in the history of the franchise - including Ed Boon, who’s been involved in all of them (the “Noob” part of “Noob Saibot”, one of the characters in the series, is actually “Boon” backwards - “Saibot” is Tobias, after John Tobias, who is one of the other instrumental creators of the series). With an unprecedented cast of more than 25 characters, UMK3 was ultimate by name as well as by nature - most arcade gamers around at the time, even the Street Fighter fans, will admit as much.
Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996) was the next cab off the rank, combining all of the characters from the first three MK games (no mean feat!) for what was the Ultimate home version of the classic 2D Mortal Kombat experience. Available on Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, PC and Sony PlayStation, the game was actually worked on by completely different developers for each version - each of which had it’s own quirks and tweaks, which in turn resulted in various people proclaiming various versions as superior. For example, the N64 version was much faster loading, which improved various aspects of the title, yet it had less space so could only fit 31 characters (compared to 36 on the disk-based versions).
Wondering what the story is with that image insert at the top of the article? That's Marie-Claude Bourbonnais as Mortal Kombat's Frost, from a photo shoot by Canadian photographer Gil Perron. You can find out more here.
Next week: Mortal Kombat makes the jump into three dimensions and people aren't necessarily happy about it...