Mortal Marathon Part 2: Cold Reality

March 21st, 2011 by | Tags: , ,

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.

We start this episode with a shirtless man showing off his martial arts skills for a group of hooded and masked men. Among them are some ninjas, all of them gray. The first time they showed one I thought it might be Smoke making an appearance, but all of them are wearing gray. The Grand Master of this group is talking about how awesome shirtless is, and tells him that it’s time. This apparently means “time to dump burning hot coals onto your back and then make you dip your hands into dry ice and rub them on your back to stop the burning,” because that’s what goes down next. As the Grand Master walks away from shirtless, who is still busy with the whole being in a lot of pain thing, he falls to his knees as writing becomes burned into the wall. As he utters the name “Shang Tsung,” it cuts to the opening titles.

The titles are pretty standard, showing a lot of action, while a voice over explains the premise of the show for those just tuning in. Among the action shots we see a few familiar faces that haven’t actually shown up on the show yet, including Sub-Zero, and who I think is this shows version of Noob Saibot. There’s also a shot of Not-Jade from last episode without her top on.

Just in case you forgot this show was full of stuff like this since last time.

I also want to mention that this show, or at the very least this and the last episode, have actual on screen titles at the end of the opening credits. Everywhere I look tells me this episode is named “Cold Reality,” except that, which says it’s named “Scorpion vs. Subzero.” This is confusing not only because they spelled Sub-Zero as one word, but also because Scorpion is not in this episode at all.

Anyway, our heroes from last time (Kung Lao, the MK champion and former monk, Siro, former bodyguard to the now deceased Jen, and Taja, former thief) are on their way back into Zhu Zin to set up shop at the trading post. All of them express doubts about whether or not they can do it. Siro doesn’t know if he can help train fighters for the tournament which he doesn’t even believe in, Taja has never settled in any placed for too long, and also doesn’t believe in the tournament, and Kung Lao has no idea how to go about training others to fight in it. There’s also a little bit of nice banter here between Taja and Siro, as they argue about how she stole food from the temple before they left, and how Siro has now eaten all of it. It’s a bit sitcommy, but this show has been a bit dry so far, so every time they even attempt comic relief it helps.

They arrive at the trading post, and we get a bunch of shots of half naked women standing around in the marketplace that it’s located in. Kung stares at it, but has some trouble doing in due to his memories, so Siro suggests they go get supplies and allow Taja to open the place up. When she enters, she finds that it’s been ransacked by thieves, who we quickly learn is one of the gray ninjas from earlier, who drops down from the ceiling and fights with her. It goes pretty quickly, and is a lot more bearable than some of the drawn out fight sequences from the first couple episodes. The ninja pretty soundly trounces Taja, but Siro and Kung get back before he can kill her. Siro and Kung recognize him as being a member of the Lin Kuei clan, from a tattoo on his wrist, and Siro tries to interrogate him as to why he’s there and what he’s after. This doesn’t go far because the ninja snaps his own neck rather than talk.

The trio retire to their separate rooms, and on the way to his Kung Lao has flashbacks of Jen from the first episode. The whole love angle was a bit forced in the last episode, but I’m glad to see that they haven’t just dropped he entire thing and had Kung Lao move on. Pathos and character development are always nice, and I really wasn’t expecting any out of this show when I went into it. With any luck this will give Kung Lao something to move past, and become stronger because of in future episodes. Here it’s just the flashback and Kung saying he misses Jen though.

We head into the cobalt mines of Shokan for the first time this episode to check in on our villains. Not-Jade finds Shang Tsung using his finger to write in the air, and makes some snarky comments about him writing a “how to be a sorcerer” book, which pisses him off. She tries to seduce him again after that, just like she did in the first episode, and once again he blows her off. He explains that he’s writing messages for the Lin Kuei, and has given them orders to find a certain object (he refuses to tell her what) that is in the trading post that Kung and Co. have just moved into. This is a two birds with one stone kind of situation for him, because he’ll get the object, and the Lin Kuei will also kill Kung Lao in the process. He seems quite pleased with himself, and decides to take Not-Jade up on her previous offer after all, and implies that it’s gonna be some freaky, hardcore, rough sex.

Let’s stop for a second here to discuss Not-Jade. I get that she’s supposed to be the sleazy seductress type, but she has what is probably the most revealing outfit of any woman on this show. The top is very low cut, and it’s so tight that every time she’s on screen she has a visible camel toe going on. This is not a practical outfit for a woman in any type of mine, let alone one that is filled and staffed by the most hardened criminals of Outworld. All the fake “sexy” crap that this show does are it’s weakest link, by far. It’s all so forced that it comes off less as sexy and more as a pathetic cry for attention.

Pictured: Practicality

Back at the trading post Taja threatens to leave because she’s already sick of being attacked. Siro talks her out of it by saying that he’s not surprised, “once a thief, always a thief.” She stays because she wants to prove him wrong. Her and Siro decide to look for whatever it is that the Lin Kuei are after, while Kung Lao leaves to go have a talk with Raiden.

Back at Lin Kuei headquarters, the Grand Master talks with one of his cohorts about the failure of the first agent they sent, and orders that three more be sent to complete the job he could not. All of a sudden, a portal opens and sucks him through to the cobalt mines, where Shang Tsung is waiting for him. Shang is pissed off that only one man was sent the first time, and they discuss the object that is in question. It turns out what he’s after is a crystal that has the power to take it’s user anywhere, to any realm, and any location within that realm. Shang says that not only will this be his ticket to freedom, but also to rule over all of the realms, and to hell with Shao Kahn. The Grand Master let’s him know that he’s sending three more ninjas to do the job, and if they fail he has an ace up his sleeve. Shang warns him not to fail, and sends him back.

Let’s stop here. Shang Tsung is looking for a crystal that can take him anywhere. I understand that part of that where it will give him great power after he has it, as getting to other realms is apparently kind of a bitch. But he literally not 5 minutes ago opened up a portal to Lin Kuei headquarters, which is in Earthrealm, and pulled the Grand Master through, totally unharmed. So the first part, about it being his way out of the prison, doesn’t make any sense at all cause he could just open up a portal and leave any time he wants to. It seems to me that they didn’t really think this through. Just having him talk to the Grand Master through telepathy, or using a portal as a two way video link up would have made a lot more sense, and fixed what is a pretty major plot hole here.

Meanwhile, Kung Lao is out wandering around in the woods, shouting for Raiden, who hasn’t shown up. He gets sick of waiting, and gives up. While he’s storming off, Raiden does show up, and tells Kung Lao that there are going to be a lot of times where he isn’t going to be there to hold his hand, and he has to learn self-reliance. Not only can’t he do Kung Lao’s fighting for him, he isn’t going to do his thinking for him anyway, and Kung should man up and get over it.

I really like this shows version of Raiden. He’s not quite as comedic as the Christopher Lambert version from the first film, but he has a very similar sarcastic edge to him. He’s also a bit of an asshole, which I find endearing.

Back at Lin Kuei headquarters, shirtless is showing off again, and the Grand Master throws a bucket of water at him, which he freezes in mid air before it hits him. He’s sent away while the Grand Master muses about how it’s been centuries since they have had anyone so powerful, and with those abilities within their ranks.

Taja and Siro are both still looking for whatever it was the Lin Kuei were after (they don’t know it’s a crystal yet, remember?) when the three ninjas jump them…

No, not those Three Ninjas

The problem I have with these fights is that we all know that these nameless, faceless henchmen are not going to cause any serious harm to our characters. Killing Jen, who they set up to be pretty important in the first episode, shows that there is at least some level of danger for them, but even she got killed by Scorpion, not Random Lin Kuei Ninja #9. Without any real threat there’s no excitement to any of the fights. They’re just people in silly costumes flipping around and pretending to beat each other up.

So anyway, both Taja and Siro get knocked out, but Kung Lao shows up before the ninjas can kill them, and he takes on all three of them. They do the old kung fu movie cliché of patiently waiting their turn to attack him one at a time. The music in this fight is also really, really bad, even by the low standards that this show has already set on this front. It’s the same 30 seconds of techno put on loop, and is grating. Anyway, Kung easily beats all three of them, and as Siro wakes up and joins him, they all run off. Siro is pissed, and decides to go after them, following them through the sewers to a canyon outside of the city walls.

At Lin Kuei headquarters, shirtless is now nearly naked and inside of a giant block of ice. This is pretty ridiculous looking, to say the least. He breaks out from inside, and as the Grand Master talks about how badass he is, the other ninjas dress him. He is Sub-Zero. I’m sure you’re all just as surprised as me by this turn of events.

I honestly don’t know if this is better or worse than that Sub-Zero- Mythologies game…

Outside, Siro has caught up with the ninjas, and sneaks in after them. They are brought before the Grand Master and are punished for failing. Their punishment is being frozen and shattered by Sub-Zero. The effects here are pretty bad, leading me to believe they blew their entire CGI budget on the last two episodes.

Taja and Kung are still looking for the object (still don’t know it’s a crystal), and Taja is using her thief skills to figure out where it might be hidden. She figures there has to be a secret passage behind a hollow shelf, and much comedy ensues with her and Kung trying to get it to move. They give up, and as they leave she spins a globe in the room around, which pops out a hidden panel at the bottom of aforementioned shelf, which contains the crystal. The crystal itself is red, and kind of looks like a glass sex toy. By touching it though, it can change shapes, and this seems to be how it opens portals. Siro runs in to warn them about Sub-Zero, but he’s already there. Sub freezes a chandelier, knocks Taja out, grabs the crystal, and tries to run off. Taja has been in three fights this episode, and has been knocked out within seconds of each one. She is completely useless.

There’s a mediocre fight scene with Kung and Siro against Sub-Zero, in which Sub-Zero pretty much dominates them both. The only hit Kung really gets on him knocks the crystal out of his hands and into the far corner of the room though. Siro says that Sub’s freeze attacks seem to weaken him after he does them, which for some reason prompts Sub to start freezing everything in sight like some kind of idiot. Maybe he thought it was backwards day? Taja finally gets off her ass and joins them, but before she can even join in in the ice dodging, Raiden also shows up. He does that cool thing where his eyes go all electric, and Sub-Zero runs off.

Raiden explains that Sub-Zero hasn’t actually been defeated for good yet, and that he’s encountered others with powers of a similar nature of the centuries. He also explains the power of the crystal to them, and demands that they had it over, as it’s too dangerous to keep where Shang Tsung, or even worse, Shao Kahn, could get to it. Kung and the others tell Raiden that they’re keeping it, as it’s too great a tool to throw away. He reluctantly agrees and tells them to guard it well.

Our last scene is back at Lin Kuei HQ. The Grand Master isn’t upset with Sub-Zero for not completing his mission, as there’s no way he could have taken on Raiden. He assumes that Raiden will have destroyed the crystal, and tells Sub-Zero that their work is done on this matter. Sub begs for a chance to go back anyway and is told that he’ll one day have his chance.

Man, oh man, this episode was not very good. The fight scenes didn’t drag as much as they did in the previous two, but it also didn’t have the two stand out fights they had. Even when Sub-Zero finally puts a shirt on and goes to throw down, it’s boring. Other than a couple of character moments with the three main characters, there is nothing that stands out about anything that just happened. It’s a massive drop in quality from the first two, and I really hope it recovers next episode.

Up Next: Immortal Kombat… Featuring… Omegis? What the hell is an Omegis?

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5 comments to “Mortal Marathon Part 2: Cold Reality”

  1. Oh, this is fun.

  2. I’m… pretty sure that’s cameltoe in the second image.


  3. Oh, you don’t need to guess, Ditch. That is 100% for sure cameltoe. And it’s visible in every full body shot of Not-Jade.

  4. The Joker One Three Eight is a much better MK reviewer than a poster.

  5. @super nintendo chalmers: Yeah well you’re a better…something…than a poster… 😡 :frown: