Mortal Marathon Part 2: Cold Reality

March 21st, 2011 Posted by guest article

Guest article series by Gabriel “TheJoker138” Coleman.

Seeing as I’m going to be here talking about Mortal Kombat stuff with you guys for quite a while, (22 episodes of Conquest, 13 of Defenders of the Realm, 2 full length movies, and two… other things) I figured you might want to know some of my background with the series. When the first game came out, I was only six years old, so I missed the boat on actually playing it when it was new. However, by the time Mortal Kombat 2 came out, I was a second grader who had a Sega Genesis coming to him for Christmas of 1994. I got the Genesis itself, the pack in game Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic 2, and Mortal Kombat 2.

I don’t recall ever asking for the Genesis, but I was already somewhat familiar with MK2. The Pizza Hut near our house had two arcade machines, Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat 2. I always gravitated towards the MK2 machine, wasting quarters and hardly ever winning matches against the CPU. I guess my parents picked up on it, and not being the reactionary type who think that video games cause children to become psychopaths, probably got me the Genesis so I would play it at home and not throw away their quarters anymore. This didn’t really work out for them.

I had this Genesis and my MK cartridge for a long time. It was the only system I had until after the PS1 was already out, at which point I switched to a N64. There were other games, of course, including Mortal Kombat 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and of course the first one which I had missed out on. But it was always MK2 that I came back to. I borrowed an older friends strategy guide for it and photocopied it at my moms office. I practiced the fatalities and special moves by plugging in a second controller in and doing Vs. matches against no one. I improved enough at it that I could get through the arcade version in one or two quarters most time, and even beat a lot of human competition.

I remember one day I went into the Pizza Hut and the cabinet wasn’t there anymore, leaving only the Street Fighter 2 machine and one of those claw machines you can get stuffed animals from. I guess that MK2 either wasn’t profitable for them anymore, or it broke down and they figured it wasn’t worth it to fix. Either way it was gone. There were places to play MK3 at, sure, but none of them were as close to my house or as oft visited as that Pizza Hut.

By the time MK4 came out, my love of the series as a whole had already started to diminish. I caught a few episodes of the animated series on TV when I was up that early, which wasn’t often. I saw the second movie when it came out on VHS tape for rental, and it put me off even more. I never even bothered to watch Conquest when it was on. But that MK2 cartridge was always there, and to this day it’s the one thing I miss most about my Genesis. Sure, there’s a downloadable version of it (arcade perfect even!) on the PS3, but it’s not the same. There’s something about blowing out the cart, whipping out my stapled together bootleg strategy guide, and watching as lighting illuminated the cloudy sky to reveal the MK dragon that I’ll never have again.

That’s one of the reasons the new game has me excited enough that I decided to go back and look at this material I skipped at the time. The footage from it has everything I loved about MK2, but updated with a shiny new coat of next gen paint. The demo plays like a souped up version of MK2 with all the best parts of MK3 thrown in for good measure. The roster is all classic characters that I remember and love (or hate… I’m looking at you, Nightwolf) and remember. I know it will never live up to my memories of MK2, but I still hope it can carve out it’s own niche in my long history with video games, one that will be just as fulfilling as those days gone by. But anyway, I’ve blathered on enough about the good old days, let’s hop into our second installment of Mortal Marathon, with episode 3, Cold Reality.

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The Top Ten Most Ridiculous Things to Come Out of Mortal Kombat

June 22nd, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Recently, Mortal Kombat has been making another push into the consciousness of gamers everywhere. Two weeks ago, a video was released based on the treatment for a movie revamp that would reimagine the series’ story as more urban and somewhat more down-to-Earth. Then a few days later, a new trailer was shown for the new game, simply entitled Mortal Kombat. Much like Street Fighter IV, it’s an attempt at a nostalgic return to glory by emphasizing the franchise’s best game.

While the footage has a definite Mortal Kombat II feel, it’s actually a skewed retelling of the first three games thanks to divine time travel. You see, sometime after Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Shao Kahn curbstomps Raiden so hard that Raiden realizes how screwed the entire series has gotten. I mean, before the DC crossover, the game’s story was about an over-inflated cast having to climb the Aggro Crag. So he sends a message back to his younger self to cause a massive butterfly effect (butterfly effekt?) and redo history right this time. It’s like the last episode of Mighty Max but without Bull from Night Court being eaten by a giant spider. Or maybe it does have that. I don’t know. The game won’t be out for a year.

I’ve always been a fan of the series. It’s cheesy, violent fun and – as stupid as it sounds – I’ve always loved the mythology that comes with it all. From the beginning, it’s been Enter the Dragon mixed with Big Trouble in Little China mixed with Iron Fist with a dash of Godfrey Ho. I’ve been following the series far longer than I have comics and I’ve experienced many of the nuances of its excessive success. I remember when digitized actor Daniel Pesina rebelled against Midway by appearing in a magazine ad in support for the game Bloodstorm while wearing full Johnny Cage gear. I remember the Mortal Kombat GI Joe figures. I remember the awful knockoff videogames like Way of the Warrior, War Gods and the never-released Tattoo Assassins. I remember how the ARCADE version of Mortal Kombat 3 got its own nationally televised commercial. I remember the Mortal Kombat 3 Kombat Kodes that weren’t even worth the effort. I even read that mediocre prequel novel where Scorpion was revealed to be the ghost of a murdered ninja merged with his son’s body.

That said, I’ve seen the weird stuff come out of the trademark that still causes me to scratch my head. I figured a trip through the stranger and more unfortunate pieces of output from the Mortal Kombat series might be worth the time. Though first thing’s first, I’m not going to go the gameplay route with this list. I don’t care about how it lacks the refined tournament play of Virtua Fighter 5 or how the Run button is the Holocaust in videogame form or how Human Smoke has an infinite. I really just do not care.

Let’s start off the list by getting the most obvious one out of the way.

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Ryu Final: It’s Tiger Awesome!

February 26th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

I’ve always been a fan of the Street Fighter games and their stories. With the sudden resurgence of the series with its kickass new videogame and horrible, horrible new movie which I will unfortunately see on opening day because it probably won’t be in theaters anymore by Saturday, I’ve been checking out a lot of the comic-related stuff. While UDON has three different Street Fighter comics coming out at the same time (Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter IV and a Chun-Li miniseries), I decided to give the manga Ryu Final a look.

I’m not usually a manga guy, but we had it at work and I wanted to give it a shot because it takes place during the course of Street Fighter III. I love the SF3 games and they never get any play. They always appear neglected by Capcom and a lot of the fans, such as the lack of any of its characters in SF4. I should also bring up the bizarre and confusing ordering of the game series’ canon. Some games replace others in continuity, even when they appear to be sequels. By the end of it, it looks like this:

– Street Fighter
– Street Fighter Alpha 2
– Street Fighter Alpha 3
– Super Street Fighter II Turbo
– Street Fighter IV
– Street Fighter III: Second Impact
– Street Fighter III: Third Strike

All while sharing the same universe with Final Fight, Rival Schools and Saturday Night Slam Masters.

Ryu Final takes place during Third Strike, the latest entry in terms of continuity. It follows Ryu, piecing together nearly all of his character interactions and the game endings that relate to him. A run-in with Ken ends with Ryu defeated and questioning why he even fights in the first place. Soon after, he meets with a crazy 150-year-old man named Oro who soundly defeats him and forces him under his wing as his new apprentice. The two of them wander the world together as Ryu takes on various SF3 characters like Hugo, Yun, Yang and Dudley.

This quest for answers brings Ryu closer and closer to his final battle against his main nemesis Akuma. Which reminds me that the manga is completely worth reading just for a flashback sequence that shows Ryu’s origin. Long story short, a younger Akuma saves a very young Ryu’s life by jumping out of the shadows in a cave, punching his fist THROUGH the back of a bear’s skull and stopping with his fist inches from Ryu’s face. The manga does well in adding more dimension to the Akuma character, even including an odd Killing Joke moment of laughter between Ryu and Akuma before their fight.

For me, it all boils down to how awesome Sagat is. For those who play the games, you’re probably wondering what the hell Sagat has to do with anything. He wasn’t in any of the SF3 games. As far as the canon goes, Sagat and Ryu agreed that Ryu would seek out Sagat when he was ready for them to have their true, clean fight. So during SF3, Sagat is just chilling out in Thailand. In this book, Ryu does meet up with him as to fulfill his promise of a rematch and the entire thing is totally sweet.

But there’s another part that’s great involving a flashback. We go back to see Sagat after SF1’s conclusion. Ryu had sucker-punched Sagat and gave him a huge, bloody wound on his chest in a major upset. Sagat’s top pupil has lost faith in him and Sagat has lost faith in himself. He responds to his loss by tearing apart trees in rage.

Then he finds that he almost crushed a kid during this. The boy is laying there, horribly wounded and half dead. A doctor finds that the wounds were caused by a tiger mauling him. There are poachers out there who will force children to act as decoys for the sake of catching their prey. Hearing about this, Sagat races into the jungle.

“What am I doing?! Am I going to defeat the poachers to avenge the young boy…?! NO!! I merely want to avenge my own honor… That is all I fight for! This has nothing to do with compassion… This is about making myself feel better! What a petty man I am! But… I don’t care! No one can stop me now!!”

There are two hunters going after a giant tiger. One gets mauled to death. Sagat steps in and stares down the tiger until it leaves. The surviving poacher is grateful, but Sagat calls him out on exploiting the children. He begins to slap the shit out of the guy repeatedly while bitching him out. His chest wound is still fresh and the pain kicks in again, causing him to hesitate and allowing the poacher to escape into his camp. The poacher brings out a little girl and holds a gun to her head, saying that he’ll let her go if Sagat forgets this night ever happened.

The wounded little boy from earlier shows up and yells at him to stop.

After the flashback, we see that these two siblings have grown up to be farmers who are loyal and close to Sagat. Sagat rules so very much.

But yeah, Ryu Final is worth a try if you’re riding the SF4 high. The UDON Street Fighter stuff isn’t bad either, now that it’s coming out regularly again, but I noticed a big problem in Seth’s plan in the first Street Fighter IV issue:

Don’t do it! That guy in the bottom right beat up Batman and can tear your spine out! Wait, never mind. I forgot that I hate Crimson Viper. Forget I said anything.

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Test Your Speculation

June 6th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

I’ve joked about the upcoming Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe game a lot and I don’t expect it to be an especially good game, but at the same time, I’m drawn to the lead-up. As a crossover, it’s such a unique concept that I can’t help but wonder about the final product. In other words, at the moment, I’m enthralled by the speculation.

As of now, only four characters have been revealed: Superman, Batman, Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Series bigwig Ed Boon said that there will be 20-22 characters on the game’s roster. On one hand, I get that this is because the game has a brand new engine working for it. On the other hand, it doesn’t bring in the fun factor that comes with the obscure characters.

Capcom’s crossover games initially had the same problem, which is why the sequels had more going for them. With the foundation in place, the creators got to move outward and be more creative with the character spots. That’s when we got guys like Marrow, Tron Bonne and Chang Koehan. So if there is a sequel to this game, only then will we get Noob Saibot vs. The Shade or Moloch vs. The Shaggy Man. Myself, I’m all for Stryker vs. Azrael in the battle of who fanboys hate the most.

For the fun of speculation, I’m trying to make some educated guesses on who will be in the game. The low character count helps. The need to include the more marquee characters from both sides helps too. Boon also mentioned that each character pairs into a rivalry with the crossover counterpart.

That means you have to figure out first who Midway wants to put in the forefront. That means most of the MK1 cast and a handful of the other more memorable fighters. Then you mix and match while making sure to stick in all the well-known DC heroes. To be optimistic, let’s say that there are 11 characters on each side.

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All King of Trio’d Out

March 4th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

You may have noticed that for the past week or so, I haven’t said a damn word on this site. That’s because last Friday I went off to Philadelphia for the three day CHIKARA wrestling show known as King of Trios ’08. What a blast.

Me hanging out with Stupefied, El Generico and Player Uno. This should be the new Mount Rushmore.

King of Trios was the biggest tournament in wrestling history, featuring 28 sets of three-man tag teams. The first two days would feature 14 teams each, whittled down to four teams after ten matches and two byes. By the third night, they’re down to eight teams, with several non-tournament matches added on. Follow that? It doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that there were 31 matches over the course of three days and it was rocktastical.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any disappointments in the roster. CHIKARA top guys Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli are in Japan, so they missed out. Plus some of the more memorable guest stars from last year like Yago, Dino and American Balloon weren’t returning. Despite that, we had some of the reliable mainstays, surprisingly entertaining new guys and some bizarre surprises.

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An Update on Lack of Updates

June 2nd, 2007 Posted by Gavok

Wow, I haven’t written crap in the last two weeks. To be fair, I have been writing. I just haven’t been posting. Work’s been giving me hours that aren’t writing friendly and a lot of my time off has been spent either sleeping, going to Chikara shows or proctoring the SATs. The last of which is the easiest money ever and if you can find someone who can give you that gig, go for it.

I do have something fairly big set for this Sunday, so definitely tune in for that.

In the meantime, and I don’t want to sound like a corporate shill on this, but Barnes and Noble has an annual sale around this time that kicks a certain amount of ass. For the month of June, all their DVDs are “buy two, get one free”. All of them. This means I’ll be picking up the Wrestlemania I-V boxset, the Wrestlemania VI-X boxset, with the Rocky I-V boxset tossed in for free.

More importantly, and getting back to the whole comics thing, it means I’m finally done collecting my Diniverse DVDs. Four Batman sets, three Superman sets, three Batman Beyond sets, four Justice League sets, Mask of the Phantasm, Sub-Zero and Return of the Joker: Awesome Version. Technically, the collection isn’t complete, since I’m missing Mystery of the Batwoman, Brainiac Attacks and Return of the Joker: Pussified Version. Maybe I’ll end up picking up Batwoman, since it wasn’t all that bad, but the latter two can rot in a dumpster for all I care. Off-screen electrocution my ass.

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Malibu Kombat: Part Gold

October 2nd, 2006 Posted by Gavok

We’re almost done with the Malibu MK series. When we last left our heroes, Sonya was kidnapped by Kintaro, who claimed Shao Kahn had plans for her. Liu Kang and his new friend Bo defended against ninjas that repeatedly came out of the fucking blue. Johnny Cage and Jax were challenged by Smoke and Jade on an airplane. And Bullwinkle signed a contract to be a lounge singer, not realizing that his agent is really the nefarious Boris Badenoff!

Oh yeah. That too.

Smoke and Jade try to attack Jax and Johnny with their own strategies. Smoke uses the strategy of turning into pure smoke while Jade uses the strategy of having her tights hiked way up her buttcrack. The heroes counter this by making a couple Gone with the Wind references before knocking them through a hole in the plane. That… might make more sense if you read the comic.

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Malibu Kombat: Part 3

October 1st, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Next up on the Mortal Kombat tour is the 3-issue series Rayden and Kano. Definitely an interesting pairing. In fact, it almost seemed like a poor man’s Cable and Deadpool, with the over-powered hero god and his odd relationship with a less-powerful, vile criminal smartass. On one hand, I did like the story of this arc. On the other hand, two of the three issues were done by one Kiki Santamone. Fuck.

So Kano gets broken out of prison and is punished by the Black Dragon. He escapes his death sentence, but blacks out. Raiden has him taken to his pad, where Kano awakens to meet Raiden’s servants, two Asian ladies named Wynd and Rayne. I’d give props to Raiden for that, but at no point do we get to see art that makes them look like more than ugly, lumpy freaks.

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Malibu Kombat: Part 2

September 30th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

We’re seven issues into the MK series, meaning it’s time to talk about Goro: Prince of Pain. Yes, indeed. Here comes the pain. As you might remember from the last article, Goro was last seen beating up other MK characters until vanishing with no explanation. From there, the story split into Blood and Thunder #4-6 and Goro: Prince of Pain #1-3.

Prince of Pain starts off with Goro wandering around a major US city at night. He comes across a couple cops, who are too stupid to shoot him. Suddenly, a talking crow named Rook appears out of nowhere and vaporizes the cops with green laser vision.

We’re only just getting started. Rook lures Goro to the being that summoned him. He is Zaggot, a green-bearded wizard with a love for all things chaotic. He is completely insane and screams pop-culture nonsense that Goro isn’t meant to understand. Somehow, he’s still not awesome by any stretch of the imagination. I can’t understand it either.

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Malibu Kombat: Part 1

September 29th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

In the last article, I covered Malibu’s horrific attempt to do a comic based on the hit fighting game Street Fighter 2. As some of you might know, that wasn’t Malibu’s only attempt at a fighting game comic. Along with their forgotten attempt to make Virtua Fighter’s story look appealing (cancelled after the first issue), Malibu tried some of their magic on the Mortal Kombat series. As a series of mini-series and one-shots, the Malibu Mortal Kombat run went on for 26 issues in total. All-in-all, that’s nothing to laugh at.

But there is stuff to laugh about. Oh, believe me. There is plenty of stuff to laugh about.

This series isn’t to be confused with Midway’s promotional one-shots that came out as prologues for their respective games. Series co-creator John Tobias wrote and did the art for comics based on the events prior to Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2 and Mortal Kombat 4. You might remember seeing advertisements for these during the demo mode on old MK and MK2 arcade machines (ah, nostalgia), while the harder-to-find MK4 comic came with a pre-ordered copy of the PC version of MK4. These three comics were all decent enough and succeeded in what they were trying to do.

The MK2 one also had a fantastic depiction of the second Sub-Zero, who was shown as being less of a mysterious assassin and more of a tech-savvy businessman with a heart of gold.

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