Mortal Kombat was first released on araKade Kabinets (Oh yeah, I’m doing the C to K thing, it’s gonna get annoying) in 1992 and almost immediately became one of the dominant game franchises on Earth. It Kreated more over 20 games, 7 TV Shows (including Kartoons), 2 books, 3 waves of Komics, and an inKalculable amount of toys, music, internet sites, fan forums, home made videos, and even a Kard game (had to end on the K). And now another Reboot is on it’s way and I wanted to examine just how impactful this franchise has been. So, here are the 8 best times The Mortal Kombat Franchise TransKended Itself as game and directly effected Pop Kulture.
(No more C/K Stuff stuff from here on… well, maybe just in the titles.)
1) The Blood Kode
Here is, what sounds like a 12 year old boy, showing you how to do the blood code and talking about how much he loves blood!
In 1993, the hit arcade game Mortal Kombat was released for the Super Nintendo system and the Sega Genesis, but only one of them had… the blood code.
And that was the one everyone bought. The Bloody versions on the Genesis outsold the SNES version 5 to 1.
On the Code Of Honor screen, you pressed A, B, A, C, A, B, B and suddenly the game went from PG to R. Those of us who had the SNES version could only marvel at the blurry gore of the edgier, cooler version the Genesis players enjoyed. This moment marked a shift in the minds of kids everywhere, it was the first time that Genesis players could truly show the world (AKA Their friends) that they had the better system. Today, no list of cheat codes goes without ABACABB and like the Konami code, The Blood Code has gone down in history, locked inside the minds of kids everywhere who used it thousands of times to turn the grey pixelted “sweat” of the characters, to the crimson red blood of victory.
Next Up… Making the Law, making the law!!!!!
2) Kreating the ESRB
Snoooooooooore…what, huh? Video game footage?! Bad for kids and…… snooooooooooore
On December 9th, 1993, Senator Joe Lieberman led the charge against video game violence and his first target… Mortal Kombat. Check it out on the video above @ 2:04:19. Mortal Kombat games and commercials were cited, played, and demonized on the during the U.S. Congressional hearing. Witness after Witness and Senator after Senator spoke out against many games that contained violence, but Mortal Kombat was the game that caught the brunt of the attack. These hearings directly lead to the ESRB rating system for games, changing how games were sold and the law, for all time.
Next up… Things get a little Toasty in here
Sound is a huge part of games, not just the music, but quotes! Legend of Zelda’s “Hey, Listen”, Metal Gear’s attention exclamation mark sting, etc…
But one game seems to have them all, From Scorpian’s “Get Over Here” to the infamous, “Finish him”, but one one high-pitched voice rises above them all.
Sound designer Dan Forden’s, “Toasty!”
This iconic cry comes from the guy who designed all the sayings and in itself has gone beyond mere game play to effect the world at lager.
Just reading “Toasty!”, has your imaginary ears ringing that falsetto taunt. After performing an uppercut (randomly, after a good combo, or on the portal stage), an image of sound designer Dan Forden, would slide in on the lower corner of the screen as his mocking voice would ring out. This Easter Egg was actually a way to unlock the hidden character smoke, but would go on to appear in many of the franchise’s games in a variety of forms. “Toasty” also became the name of Scorpian’s finishing move, where he removes his mask and burns the opposing player with his fir breath. There are also numerous Toasty websites dedicated to inserting Toasty in any media you can think of.
4) Finish Him! (or Her!)
That is almost 3 hours of finishing moves with olmost 1 and half million watches… better than the Justice League Movie, I guess.)
Finishing moves define the Mortal Kombat franchise. They’ve grown from gore endings to comical mini-skits to outward showings of mercy and friendship. These finishing moves form Fatalities, Babalities, Brutalities, Mercies, and Animalities have grown and to the point where beating your opponent is only 1/2 the fun and not completing the crazy ass combination of buttons to earn a finishing move leave players disappointed and unsatisfied.
5) THAT song
Test your might… Mooooooortal Koooooombat!!! duh dah dah duh dah dah dah , duh dah dah duh dah dah dah , duh dah dah duh dah dah dah ,
In the Summer of 1993, that techno beat with audio clips from the Mortal Kombat game and commercials dominated boomboxes and radio stations. I have vivid memories of running to my friend’s house when it was on the radio so we could tape it off his clock radio into his boombox cassette deck. Created by Lords of Acid/ The Immortals te dong was called “Techno Syndrome” or “The Mortal Kombat Song” depending on who and when they played it. It has been released and re-released a million times for the movies and games since. But once you hear it… it settles in and lives in your head, on repeat, forevr.
6) Don’t Do Drugs
An form of ecstasy, this pink/red pill with the Mortal Kombat dragon logo stamped onto it surfaced in Scotland in 2014. The illegal drug caused multiple deaths and even more hospitalizations in minors and adults alike. This of course is a sad, terrible instance of the game becoming associated with an highly dangerous drug.
7) What’s That Star Playing?
Beyond that weird cartoon and that terrible live-action TV show and commercials, Mortal Kombat started showing up in TV shows and Movies like Married… With Children, Malcom In The Middle, and even Christian Slater is seen playing it in the film Very Bad Things.
7) Bartender, a Guinness.
Boom, MK boasts a ton of records recorded by Gunness, the least of which is, “Earliest video game poster to be censored”. Check out the list below from the Guinness World Records 2011 Gamer’s Edition.These are just a few highlights.
- Longest-serving videogame voice actor: Ed Boon (USA), the creator of Mortal Kombat (NetherRealm Studios, 1991), for Scorpion in every single MK game
- Earliest game to trigger the set-up of a software ratings board: See earlier #2 point in this article.
- Most numbered entries in a fighting game series: 20, bro!
- Earliest one-on-one fighting game to use digitized sprites.
- Earliest successful console fighting game.
- Earliest 3D fighting game to offer online play.
- Earliest video game poster to be censored: This is the add the poster was made from. I couldn’t find the exact poster, but here’s the pulled ad.
And finally, Cosplay. No words, just lots of tone.
Seriously, this is an internet rabbit hole, like no other.