Mortal Kombat completely changed the gaming world when the arcade game was released in 1992. Mortal Kombat allowed players to challenge one another to a literal death match. The fighting game featured five buttons and an eight-way directional joystick. Two buttons controlled the players kicks, two controlled punches, and one allowed the player to block.
When a player won the fight against his opponent, the winner was allowed a short amount of time to perform a secret combination of buttons that would allow the victor to kill his dazed opponent. This finishing move was referred to in the game as a fatality. Each character had their own finishing moves, and the game even featured a stage fatality that allowed the winner to use the environment to kill his opponent. Needless to say, the game was quite controversial when it was released. It was also incredibly popular in the United States.
Thanks to the popularity of the arcade game, Mortal Kombat was quickly ported to home gaming consoles. The launch of Mortal Kombat on consoles was one of the largest and most highly publicized releases in gaming history. Referred to as Mortal Monday, Mortal Kombat hit store shelves for the Sega Gensisis, Super Nintendo, Game Gear, and Game Boy on September 13th, 1993. The game’s launch was preceded by a huge wave of advertising in the form of print ads and television commercials.
Although the game launched on four separate gaming consoles on the same day, there were enormous differences between the games. The Game Boy and Game Gear versions were significantly less technologically advanced than the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis versions. The Super Nintendo version came the closest to reproducing the visual and audio achievements of the arcade game, due to the console’s technological superiority compared to Sega’s Genesis. However, the Sega Genesis version remained much more faithful to the mood of its arcade predecessor. This was due to Sega’s inclusion of game’s more controversial elements.
Nintendo was not comfortable with releasing Mortal Kombat uncensored for their console. Nintendo chose to leave the blood out of the Super Nintendo version of Mortal Kombat. The blood was replaced with sweat. Fatalities were also altered for their version of the game.
Sega, on the other hand, decided to go with a different approach. The Sega Genesis version of the game allowed users to enter a code at the beginning of the game, similar to how players performed fatalities, that unlocked the sight of blood and uncensored the fatalities. This more faithful adaption of the game on Sega’s console was much more well received than Nintendo’s. Mortal Kombat was the deciding factor for many gamers when choosing between purchasing a Genesis or SNES, and Sega likely benefited greatly from their decision.
Gamers may also remember another feature from Sega’s version of Mortal Kombat. The code to unlock blood in the Sega version of the game is “ABACABB.” Abacab is an album from the band Genesis, who shares a name with the Sega console. This Easter egg is one of many found throughout the game.
Mortal Kombat is known in the gaming community for its early adoption of the practice of hiding secret elements in the game. The arcade version allowed users to access a hidden fight against a secret character with its own secret stage. Future Mortal Kombat titles even adopted hidden Easter eggs based on rumors about previous games.
Mortal Kombat 10, the latest title in the series, was released in 2015. Warner Brothers purchased the Mortal Kombat franchise in 2009 when they acquired Midway Games. Ed Boon, co-creator of the original Mortal Kombat, is still currently serving as creative director for the Mortal Kombat games. Although there is no official word yet on Mortal Kombat 11, we look forward to brutally finishing off our opponents in the next Mortal Kombat game.