The name alone conjures up images of graphic violence, gore, and bloodshed. The game first hit arcades in 1992 and quickly became a sensation thanks to its over-the-top violence and gruesome "Fatality" finishing moves.
More than three decades later, Mortal Kombat is still one of the most popular video games around, with a new installment set to release later this year. So what is it about this game that keeps us coming back for more, despite its reputation for being one of the most violent games ever made? Let's take a look.
The Allure of Violence
Violence has always been a part of video games, dating all the way back to Atari's 1976 classic "Death Race." However, Mortal Kombat took things to a whole new level with its realistic (for the time) graphics and its intentional over-the-top violence. While early arcade cabinets featured a "blood code" that would tone down the game's violence, the game's popularity led to the removal of the code altogether in later releases.
The developers behind Mortal Kombat knew that they were pushing the envelope with the game's violence, but they also knew that it would be a selling point. In an interview with a leading publication, series co-creator Ed Boon said that they wanted to make a game that would stand out from the pack, and they knew that violence would do just that, and he was right as Mortal Kombat's over-the-top violence was a major selling point for the game, and it's something that has continued to be an appealing factor for new players even today.
The Satisfaction of Finishing Moves
In addition to its graphic violence, another defining feature of Mortal Kombat is its signature "Fatality" finishing moves. These moves allow players to brutally finish off their opponents in a wide variety of ways, from decapitation and evisceration to being set on fire or simply punched so hard that their heads explode. While finishing moves have become commonplace in video games since Mortal Kombat's debut, there's something about performing them in this game that just feels right.
Maybe it's because they're so over-the-top that they're campy; maybe it's because they offer players a brief moment of cathartic release after battling their way through an intense match. Whatever the reason may be, Fatalities are an integral part of what makes Mortal Kombat such an iconic game.
Mortal Kombat Forever
No matter how you slice it, Mortal Kombat continues to be one of the most influential—and controversial—video games of all time. Love it or hate it, there's no denying that this franchise has left a lasting mark on both the gaming industry and pop culture as a whole.
Whether you're a longtime fan who remembers getting your first taste of blood and guts back in the early '90s or you're brand new to the franchise with this year's upcoming release, there's no denying that Mortal Kombat's legacy is here to stay.