Mortal Kombat (モータルコンバット), also known as Mortal Kombat Kanzen-ban (モータルコンバット完全版) on the Mega-CD in Japan, is a 1992 arcade fighting game by Midway Manufacturing. At the time, it was considered revolutionary for its use of digitized graphics, though was also met with controversy thanks to its high levels of violence.
Following its release in the arcades, home versions were created and released in September 1993 on a date which became known as "Mortal Monday". This date saw Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear versions of the game (among versions for other systems), published by Arena Entertainment simultaneously in North America and Europe, although Japan and Brazil were forced to wait some months later and a Sega Mega-CD version did not arrive until 1994.
Like in most fighting games, crouches, jumps, and flip back and forward respectively. All characters have punches and kicks that can either be aimed high or low, and a block button. Using a three-button controller and + do low and high punches, respectively, and do low and high kicks, also respectively, and START blocks. Six-button controllers have and assigned for punches, and for kicks, and for blocking. In the 8-bit versions punches and kicks; block is assigned to START in the Game Gear version, and + in the Master System version. Combinations of buttons can be used to perform special moves such as projectiles, throws, and other special attacks.
After a set number of matches players can play a minigame called "Test Your Might" and break objects by rapidly tapping buttons to raise a stamina bar, then pressing block to launch the attack. At the end of a match, players can use a finishing move which kills their opponent in various ways. By default violent finishing moves are censored and blood is disabled. By entering a special code blood will be enabled and some finishing moves will be more graphic.
Penultimate enemy; non-playable.
Final enemy; non-playable.
Sega's success with the Mega Drive version of the game prompted Nintendo to change their somewhat strict policies put forward in the late 1980s, and the SNES version of the sequel, Mortal Kombat II features red blood. Sega's Videogame Rating Council was also criticised for rating the Mega Drive version of the game a MA-13, implying that the game's content in its non-censored state was suitable for 13-year-olds. Mortal Kombat and other games such as Night Trap would inspire the creation of the ESRB, which would cover all game consoles in North America and remains in place to this day.
The release of the game caused big controversy in Germany. Initially, all versions of the game went on sale in Germany due to the fact that they were censored. USK detected that the Sega version of the game have a code to unlock the blood so it was decided to withdraw all copies of the game from Germany and banning the game. In 2005, the game disappeared from the list of banned games.
Mortal Kombat was followed by Mortal Kombat II in the following year, and continues to see sequels to this day.
Mega Drive version
The Mega Drive version was a mini-success story for Sega. This is because the Super Nintendo version, at the time in direct competition with Sega's console, opted for strict censorship, removing blood, toning down fatalities and creating a far less "violent" product. The Mega Drive version was considerably more faithful to the arcade original, and was the preferred choice at the time by consumers.
The music was also rearranged by Matt Furniss, this arrangement being unique to this port.
The Mega-CD version was rated MA-17 in North America and was therefore subject to less criticism. In fact, there is actually a code to turn the gore down in the Mega-CD port - .
As well as a CD audio soundtrack (which is essentially a recording of the arcade version), the game contains a grainy version of the famous "Mortal Monday" TV commercial. Some tracks play in the wrong stages, though there are some bonus remixes that can be heard if the game is played on a regular CD player.
The Mega-CD version is otherwise identical to the Mega Drive version, though load times can mean that Shang Tsung is open to attack while transforming. Curiously this version uses fighting music track from Amiga port when fighting Shang Tsung.
Master System version
Predictably the Master System version is toned down for the weaker hardware, and is censored until a cheat code is inputted. Kano and Reptile have been omitted from this version, presumably to save space. It includes only Goro's Lair and The Pit stages, the latter having stage fatality removed. The music is based on Allister Brimble's arrangement, the arrangement shared with PC Floppy and Game Boy ports.
Like all Master System games post 1991, this version was not released in North America.
Game Gear version
The Game Gear version is almost identical to the Master System port, but suffers from a smaller screen size.