Posted by GideonFlux on December 2nd, 2007
I like to think we all have an idealistic moment in our lives. A specific time where a lot of our happiest memories are. Like a snapshot of you at your most glorified. Our own ‘Summer of ’69.’ Maybe I’m deluding myself into thinking there are others who share this sort of fantasy, but hey.
For me that year was 1994. That summer was wedged between fifth and sixth grade. It could probably be what I’d like to call the first Golden Moment. It could be pretty words and a comforting feel of nostalgia, but it could also be because it was the first time one of my now-infamous obsessions bloomed.
Yeah, it’s a geek thing, and even a little sad to still admit and hold up, but it was one of my most talked up and tired obsessions. And it still is.
First, a small back-story. I wasn’t too keen on fighting games growing up – If at all. I remember, though, when the first Mortal Kombat game made the 6:00 news for it’s violence. They showcased the famous fatality of Sub-Zero’s. Remember that one? Rips off his opponents head and the spine dangles? Yeah.
Now -that- was cool, I thought.
Skip ahead some months and change, and my aunt gave me a copy of said Mortal Kombat for my Super Nintendo. But I didn’t realize it was -that- game because, as older fans remember, the Super Nintendo’s version had zero blood and completely altered fatalities. I didn’t even know that there were fatalities in this game. Who knew arcade games could be ported home? I sure as hell didn’t.
It was a cool game, but not one I played too much. I was too busy with Super Mario World.
One night for one of my cousin’s birthdays, we went to a cheesy place called Sahara Sam’s somewhere in Suburbia. And in the middle of the arcade pile was Mortal Kombat II. A mad crowd of bloodthirsty eleven year olds were watching intently at the screen. A fight between everyone’s favorite hero Liu Kang and the adorable Kitana was taking place. WTF? Okay…So I followed and watched, arriving just in time to see a fatality performed. If that motherfuckin’ Liu Kang didn’t turn into a dragon and eat half of Kitana’s body. I say goddamn.
My cousin Mike and I didn’t leave that area of the arcade until it was time to go home.
I was, like just about everyone else my age, immediately hooked. For the first time I actually had something in common with other kids my age. I had something to talk about in the school-yard, as it was damned cool to discuss Mortal Kombat. Plus, if you knew all of the moves and could pull off (insert uber-hard move here) – You were an eleven year old god.
I loved memorizing it, studying it, and waiting impatiently for Mortal Friday, September 9th, 1994. That was the day that Mortal Kombat II hit the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, the Gameboy, and the Gamegear. Remember those systems? Apparently the gore and blood would all be in one piece. And it sure enough was. Seeing the red spurt from an uppercut on my home gaming television was a feeling I could never replicate.
Mortal Kombat, like it or not, broke down a lot of virgin walls in the popular gaming world. It showcased human looking fighters taking part in a digital bloodbath. And I don’t think any of us would have continued playing through to adulthood if there wasn’t a good and competent storyline involved. Which there was. And interesting characters, which there were. The series started out on a very cliche and 2d storyline, but as we matured so did the story. Suddenly there were all these ‘other emotions’ there that weren’t centered on seeing guts. We picked a side and we picked our fighter. And we all did have our favorites, didn’t we?
I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.
But I’m spiderweb-rambling. My point is that it offered a lot more that generic game-play. We studied combos and methods, finding secret characters, playing hidden games, doing such-and-such’s fatality for the first time. Owning someone with a friendship. Behind us, as we played this game, our peers were waiting to see what we might discover. We read what others had discovered in Gamepro magazine, or Game Informer. There wasn’t widespread access to the internet, or even what most would recognize as the internet, so trust me man, that fucking game taught patience, too. Waiting for Gamepro’s Fighter’s Edge to offer their open-faced Mortal Kombat II tutorial was torment. The one with Mileena on the cover.
And the secrets and twists to our beloved ‘canon’ affected us. And I say us because I’m not the only one. When it was exposed that Mileena wasn’t actually Kitana’s sister but a mutant clone, I went all fanboy. I might as well have been a sixty-seven year old woman watching her soaps.
And then the movie came out in 1995. I was a hard addict, at that point, forbidden to go into arcades alone. My father used the word obsession many, many times. I countered that with his fishing obsession and was promptly told to stfu. But I digress.
I didn’t see it in a theater, but we all watched it at home on a bootleg copy. My parents and a few close family friends sat down and watched it, and I was in my glory man. They loved it – And I loved it when my father asked me questions.
“Rich, who’s she?”
Damn it felt good to be that guy for a night.
In school I was known as the boy who studied Mortal Kombat. By then it wasn’t cool anymore to know what I knew, so my fifteen minutes of popularity ended but the obsession raged on.
Now, some thirteen years later – I feel that old familiar Mortal Kombat kick in the groin. I get all back into it again – Watching videos, drawing characters, et cetera.(This one came about because I found some things I had from that time. One of them was a rule leaflet for a MK3 contest that expired 1/1/96.)
And I’m finding out that it’s okay now to admit what we like, especially if it comes from our childhood. And that’s pretty nifty.