Back in the early days of fighters, 1992, you were playing one of two titles; Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter 2. Street Fighter 2 may have had far more moves, more characters, and better animations, but Mortal Kombat had something else; rivers of blood and gore.
By modern standards the first Mortal Kombat, created by Midway, is laughably bad. There is only a handful of characters to choose from and a few basic moves.
First; the characters were digitised actors. This was revolutionary back in the day. Plus, yes, there was no other game at the time that allowed you to rip off an opponent's head, complete with dangling spinal cord.
Expansions And Sequels
When a game is as popular as the first Mortal Kombat, you can be sure that it is going to have sequels. Lots and lots of sequels . The first, Mortal Kombat 2, simply added more characters, new moves, and different locations. It stuck to the gore, of course, and expanded on the number of ways in which it was possible to dismember opponents.
Though, controversy was rife. It was the Mortal Kombat franchise that helped give birth to the ESRB, otherwise known as the rating system that gives video games age restrictions. This didn't stop the games from being widely accessible in arcades, though, and selling to teenagers like hotcakes.
Mortal Kombat 2 gave way to 3, and it seemed like the franchise was unstoppable. But the games industry was expanding. The online world was becoming more popular, things like online pokies were starting to become a reality, and one advancement threatened to kill the whole franchise entirely. 3D.
A New World
Mortal Kombat tried, and initially failed, to break into the world of 3D gaming. 3D was all the rage, and no gamer was paying any attention to 2D console games anymore. Mortal Kombat 4 was the first attempt, and was met with mediocre reviews. Sadly, the game that had played so well in 2D struggled to be as playable in 3D. Plus, home gaming was now becoming the future of games. Midway had focused almost entirely on arcades, and struggled to adapt to home consoles.
It wasn't until 2002 that Midway again saw some signs of success. Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance was a stark contrast to the earlier games, with fancy 3D graphics and a fighting system that embraced a broader perspective.
In 2008 Mortal Kombat versus DC brought comic book characters to the franchise, and also saw some success.
Back To Basics
But by the late 2000s Midway was again struggling, and interest fading. Competition in the genre was fierce. The rights for the franchise passed from Midway to movie giant Warner Brothers in 2008, and a big success was once again needed to keep things stay afloat.2011 saw the franchise return to its roots with the simply titled Mortal Kombat. 3D graphics used a 2D fighting framework. The 2011 release was a smash hit, keeping the fighter alive until the most recent 2019 release Mortal Kombat 11.