Posted by shadow_kick on June 13th, 2003
The smell of old cardboard filters up from the opened box I have drug down from its former residence in my light deprived attic and tickles at my nose while I run my fingers over and around the various objects that shine in a light that they have been without for over three years, packed away in the corners of my attic no longer worth the attention of my gaming addiction. I lift an old Atari 3600 system up and set it gently down to my right as well as a few bulky Atari cartridges boasting the simplest of names, like Basketball or Adventure. Underneath that is a well preserved Super Nintendo system, controllers still attached in their rightful slots in its front, the gray and purple plastic still holding a refreshing shine despite the obvious amounts of dust that had found their ways past the duct tape that kept its boxy confinement sealed. Next to it is a few old games, the look of them brings back memories of my first real gaming system. 16 powerful bits of glorifying gaming power, all radiating from my television screen to reflect in my eyes while my fingers vigorously worked backwards and forwards on my controller propelling my small pixilated puppet across the screen. One title, a title quite well known in the Mortal Kombat community caught my eye immediately. Mortal Kombat 2. I had fell in love with the game as a kid; I had even traded the original Mortal Kombat for it. This game had fulfilled my wildest expectations and opened new dimensions beyond any fighting game that I could have ever possibly dreamed of. What made it stand out so? No other fighting game, or any other Mortal Kombat, had ever been able to inject that feeling into me, and as for the other gaming fans it seems the same way. The only other MK series game to come close is Mortal Kombat Trilogy, but can a compilation game even be counted when you take in effect originality, uniqueness, or any of the advancements the second installment of MK had brought? But what was it about Mortal Kombat 2 that really grabbed the fans of the previous title, and thousands more afterwards? What is it that makes this title run forth from the fingers onto the appropriate keys of a keyboard of any forum member every time they see the all mighty question of “what is the best Mortal Kombat title ever”?
Was it the characters themselves that captivated thousands of fighting game fans across the United States and later onto other countries? These were the real stars of the game, the small sprites that people imagined themselves to be as they threw wild punches and blocked devastating kicks only to finish the round with an uppercut that sent their pal or the computer itself into an uncontrollable flight into the air that led to an unwelcome landing onto the hard fighting surfaces. Each one held their own unique powers just as their predecessors in the first title had done. Only this time were the special abilities that the characters possessed of much more diversity. From a character that held an amazingly powerful grip on speed, so powerful that he could propel himself at his opponent with uppercuts and kicks with so much force and speed that they exulted mirrored images from his back to a character that used his talented aim and knowledge over a bladed hat to slice and dice anyone who was unlucky and ignorant enough to cross his path. One character could control and manipulate the powers of nature to form a projectile that, with the most precise of aim, could freeze his opponents in their tracks. On the other hand, his jaded counterpart could throw a vivid yellow ball of compacted energy that would send his foe into a 180-degree twirl that left them on their backs open for the next round of assault. The original cast, with the exception of Sonya Blade and Kano, was brought back in 16-bit glory with new storylines, moves, and designs. Raiden was turned from a mischievous god looking for a worthy fight to the protector of the Earth Realm and sworn enemy of Shang Tsung and the other forces of darkness. The new characters were very original, all boasting appetizing moves and styles. From a blade endowed mutant ready to take over Outworld to a Special Forces leader ready to match and overcome the powers of Shao Kahn and bring his soldier back home, Mortal Kombat 2 had it all. So…was it the characters?
Maybe it was the arenas, the settings where so much plentiful blood was shed. Characters now faced not a spike-laced cavity to impale them to a painful death, but a steep downward spiral that led to a smooth concrete surface that ended their lives with a sickening slap of body upon concrete. Arenas where the common uppercut not only resulted in a painful fall to a hard ground, but could also lead to a bath in a churning jade pool of flesh eating acid, a concrete floor stained with crimson reminders of other fallen fighters, or an induced eternal resting derived from a row of spikes that laced the ceiling that situated itself menacingly over the fighters while they fought with every breath that they could well up in their bodies. Arenas that grabbed the eyes of the gamer while they tapped backwards and forwards searching for the perfect combination that would lead to a satisfying juggle and quick victory. Rich velvet carpets lay strewn under the feet of the various fighters with beautiful stone walls with huge circular windows with a dazzling array of clouds that flew by at rapid speeds outside. Huge fallen statues lay crumbling in the crevices of a barren wasteland covered in an eerie violet glow while fireballs and harpoons sliced threw the air. So maybe…was it the arenas?
The only other possibilty that I would consider that was responsible for making Mortal Kombat 2 so memorable in the annals of video game history is its distinct and huge leap in the advancements of its trademark endings. The darkening sky was a gut-wrenching warning of a fate unwelcome by the poor soul that had lain at the mercy of your fingers as they lay over the sweaty controller that lay limp in your hands after you faced your final defeat at the electronic hands of the computer, continues all but gone. The slice of a blade accented hat flashes from the screen, and soon you find your fighter, the one you had chosen after such careful consideration from the selection screen, falling into two halves while bones and red innards grotesquely greet your eyes. Fatalities with so much originality, unmatched by any of the other Mortal Kombat titles are accompanied with bizarre endings that leave the other fighter as though he or she had been through a time warp that had stopped at the delicate age of infancy. Mercy rings throughout the various settings at times, for the darkening screen of doom at given moments could lead to the planting of a flower that blooms just as the new found friendship made between the two combatants blooms. Was it perhaps…the endings?
It’s a very opinionated question, but there is no avoiding the fact that the most popular and favorite Mortal Kombat title is Mortal Kombat 2. The real question that lies under this dust covered fan proven fact is really “why is it so popular and well liked?”. That question may never be answered with a proven answer, but if you ask me it was because this game was made with the best of ingredients and the most meticulous recipe for a fighting game. From Fatalities to new characters this game combined every applicable element to form the best and most unique fighting game of its time, and I guess it just helps to look back every now and then and show a little appreciation for the game that really lit the fuses on the rockets that have propelled Midway’s little fighting game into more than just a few titles, but a franchise worth celebrating.