No! I’m instead going to bore you with how I see MK, and what it means to me. There has always been something that drew me to the world of Mortal Kombat. Something beyond it’s blood-smeared exterior, and beyond it’s fun pick-up-and-play gameplay. Somewhere deep within it lay something I wanted to be part of.
When MK hit the scene I was still in school. I was fairly young at the time, and had a haircut that might remind one of Mike Judge’s Butthead. Add this to the fact that I wasn’t great at the whole meeting-new-people gig, so I came across as pretty quiet. I’m sure you can imagine that, when surrounded by thirty other boys of that age, all of which were as noisy as a fucking Motorhead concert, and all trying to outdo each other to prove they were tougher and cooler than your average bear, this would make school a living Hell for a kid like me. I wasn’t the smartest tool in the box either, and I was admittedly quiet clumsy. I may as well of painted a big old target on my head and stuck a “kick me” sign on my own back. It would have had pretty much the same effect.
I’m sure it’s not unusual for a child to spend those years getting pushed, punched, called names, and of course, the classic cliché of having their lunch stolen. For me, it was simply the way life was. I wasn’t fond of it, but if that’s how things were, and who was I to judge? I wasn’t brave enough to interfere with the grand scheme of things. My body used to rebel for me, making me violently sick so that I wouldn’t have to enter school the next day and face they army of little shits who were supposed to be the future. Luckily, I had an escape, of sorts. Something that would put my mind at ease. This something, was Mortal Kombat.
To me, this meant that these characters truly believed in what they were fighting for. Whether they were good, evil, or beast, they were all fighting for what they needed. Scorpion fought to avenge his family, while Sonya Blade fought to capture or kill Kano who’d murdered her partner. I could feel their hatred towards their enemies, as they used desperate measures to achieve their individual goals. Although there were many “palette-swap” characters present throughout the MK series, no two characters were ever alike. As the years went on, there were tons of new characters thrown into the mix; each with their own reasons to fight, and back-stories to relate to. The rivalry between Shao Kahn and the Dragon King; Onaga, is set on centuries of betrayal and war. Shang Tsung’s hatred for Liu Kang runs deep within his veins. So deep that Tsung even went as far as murdering Kang in cold blood. The amount that Kitana and Milleena despise each other has become the stuff of legend over the years. These are just a few examples of the relations between the 50+ characters that populate the Mortal Kombat universe, and how they intertwine with one another. It’s a web of deceit and violence when no man is safe.
There has always been just so much more to MK than the gore than most people acknowledge it for. I was always happy when I was lost within it’s many realms. This has spilled over into a lot of things I’ve done throughout my life. With my horrid school days far behind me, I still turn to MK more often that not. I enjoy playing it for the sake of playing a game, but I can also relate to so much of it in ways that I can’t with any other game, movie, book, comic, or anything else. I’ve went out of my way so many times for so many things that brandished that MK name. When I was younger, before the days of the internet, I used to rip the special moves and fatality pages out of magazines in shops. I was even caught shoplifting MK Pogs at one stage… I don’t even fucking like Pogs! They’re useless and stupid things. But they had Johnny Cage on them, so younger me thought it was worth the risk. As I mentioned already, I wasn’t a very smart kid.
The strange thing is this- even though I have been so heavily influenced throughout the years by such a violent series of games, I’m actually a pacifist. I haven’t been in a real fight in years, and I’ve absolutely no intention of getting involved in one. It hasn’t taught me how to dismember a man with my bare hands, or how to use brute force to get my way. If anything, it’s shown me the downside to such things, and the repercussions that follow them. Stick that slice of information up your hole, shit-rag tabloids!
What Mortal Kombat has done for me is give me a sense of confidence, determination and power. In a game where your soul is worth more than your life, I think that it strengthened my soul somewhat. It would be impossible to count the amount of times I found myself in a rut, and thought “What would Kung Lao do?”, just as it would be impossible to count the amount of hours I’ve lost inside the game itself. MK helped craft me into the person I am today. It helped me hold my head up high, and not give a good goddamn what other fools think of me. Of course I’m not a cyber-ninja like Cyrax, a shokan like Kintaro, or thunder god like Raiden, but just like these characters, I’ll stand up for what I believe in, because I now have the strength to believe in myself.
So congratulations to Ed Boon and John Tobias as their game hits 20years. Thanks for the great memories that I’ve formed around playing these games. Here’s to another 20years of fun, blood, and power!