Despite its often controversial image – and, despite the now dated digitised graphics and gore, it’s arguably never been more controversial than it was when the first game arrived on home consoles and computers in 1993 – Mortal Kombat’s tongue has almost always been firmly lodged in its cheek.
This wasn’t necessarily apparent from the first game, but as far back as Mortal Kombat II, the series really did feature an awful lot of humourous elements, including Friendship (which sees your character performing a move that’s friendly instead of deadly) and Babality (which turns your dying opponent into a baby!) finishers in addition to the out and out gore of the standard Fatalities. Another amusing inclusion in Mortal Kombat II was the ‘Toasty’ Easter Egg, which saw the game’s sound designer, Dan Forden, appear on screen to exclaim “Toasty!” in a high pitched voice.
In addition to this, home versions of Mortal Kombat titles became known, at one stage, for being stuffed with original features not present in the arcade games. Some were incredibly well produced and relatively deep, given that they were essentially bonus extras on top of what was usually a main game with its own, reasonable amount of longevity.
As an example, Mortal Kombat: Deception included Chess Kombat, a fully featured and highly regarded game based on Chess. Mortal Kombat: Deception also featured Puzzle Kombat, a Super Puzzle Fighter-esque gem matching game which also featured in Ultimate Mortal Kombat.
Though those were somewhat wacky, they did at least make sense in some ways – Chess essentially being a game of war and the precedence for gem matching games already being set by the Street Fighter 2/puzzle game hybrid of Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo. Most other minigames were generally variations or parodies of the ‘Test Your Might’ section from the very first Mortal Kombat game.
The one that stands out to me as the most bizarre, however, is Motor Kombat. A Mario Kart-style, cutesy racing game, Motor Kombat was included with Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, which was released on PS2 and XBox on 2006, then on the Wii in 2007. The characters included in this mode kept the cartoony look first seen in the aforementioned Puzzle Kombat, with ten characters available and five tracks for them to compete on.
Each of the ten characters has a distinct vehicle and special move (unsurprisingly, Sub-Zero uses an ice ball, for example – and Scorpion even uses his trademark ‘Get Over Here’! move). Keeping to the Mortal Kombat tradition for excessive, comical gore, driving into some traps resulted in a very bloody demise, which even triggered a ‘Fatality’ announcement.
Though not the most fully featured kart racing game, the fact that it’s included as a completely separate piece of content with the purchase of the main game is pretty astonishing in this day and age, where the expectation would be that a mode of this size and nature would likely form part of paid DLC – or even an entirely separate game altogether, probably a mobile game released to publicise a new game in the series (likely loaded with IAPs, no doubt).
Motor Kombat is, perhaps, an example of a generous extra feature that we’re unlikely to see return – a glimpse into the recent past that may never see the light of day again.
Despite its odd nature and the fact that it’s unlikely to have been a hugely popular feature, I do find it incredibly sad that this kind of inclusion is already a thing of the past for big budget games – the wider triple-A gaming universe aside, with Mortal Kombat being published by monetisation hungry, IAP-obsessed Warner Bros, we’re not even likely to see this kind of bonus, non-combat (sorry, kombat) oriented mode return to Mortal Kombat itself any time soon.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this – or any of my other content – it’d be much appreciated if you’re able to share this article via social media. I’d also be forever grateful if you’re able to support me via: Ko-Fi.com/geekmid – which would assist me in writing even more content just like this. Above all else though, thanks for reading – I truly appreciate it!