Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Finish Him

I never would have expected today to bring the amount of Mortal Kombat into my life that it did—due in no small way to two related posts that I happened to read. What a trip. It’s fair to say that I spent more time reminiscing about Mortal Kombat today than I have in the last decade. My Kombat of choice was MK2, and it was at a lawless arcade called Tilt that I chose to nuke my 1994 allowance.

Looking back, I think the craziest part of the whole arcade fighting game phenomenon was the word-of-mouth nature of the insane button sequences required to pull off the moves—particularly the game’s trademark “fatalities”. We used to watch and wait our turns, trying to catch a glimpse of what other players were doing to generate difficult moves. The fact that I was terrible at this approach is probably largely responsible for my dismal win record (which I wouldn't have a chance to correct until the game hit consoles).

It’s been a while since I picked up a fighting game in any real way, although there was a time in my life when I considered myself to be a pretty formidable cross-title opponent: Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken, and Killer Instinct were all experiences with which I was pretty well acquainted. I tried Tekken 6 a while back, and found it a pretty empty experience—it was like two close friends meeting up for the first time in ten years and realizing that they actually just didn't have much to talk about.

As Kill Screen’s piece observes of Mortal Kombat, “You beat up people/demons/robots. The game is more fun the better you are at playing it.” It’s sort of a universal maxim for fighting games—prepare to commit, or don’t even bother! The thought of memorizing the proper button combinations to pull off a finishing move is just astounding to me now—there’s just no way. I regret that I may never again be able to truly love a title like this in the way I had once been able to.

Nevertheless, upon opening the KS post, I was absolutely entranced and couldn’t stop myself from fording that river of fatality clips from MK9.

Afterwards, I must have been woozy from soaking my brain in all that serotonin, because I suddenly found myself standing in the center of the room, just kind of shifting from knee to knee while staring blankly downward and to the right.

To and fro. Swaying. Waiting.

Then, when nothing happened after like five seconds, I fell over onto my back.
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