There were many, many games I wanted to test run at PAX East and Mortal Kombat was at the top of my list. I have been playing MK since the first game and even reminisced this weekend about playing it in college under the tutelage of another fellow student and soon surpassing the master at his own game. I can bring up past memories of Sports World in Paramus, NJ and how me and my cohorts reigned supreme during the MK II and III days amidst a sea of noobs. While I’ve owned just about every console version, none of them equaled my arcade experience, until now.
As Pete Lang and I approached the Mortal Kombat booth, we were buzzing with anticipation. We had a chance to talk to one of the producers and he gave us the lowdown on the new arcade stick. I mentioned having seen the Endurance mode where you climb a tower of 300 challenges with a variety of random options like fire shooting from the floor or headless mode. Only 16 characters were available for the PAX demo, but he wouldn’t tell me how many were eventually going to be in the game. He also ignored my questioning of new characters. He was pretty tight lipped when it came to the game itself. He was, however, very informative on the joystick.
The joystick, which is sold in a limited edition box set, is an actual replica of the arcade controllers. They used the actual layout from a MK machine to make sure all the buttons were properly spaced. Pre-PAX, I was not interested in the arcade stick, but after playing the game, I am now sold on buying the complete package.
The stick replicates the arcade experience wonderfully. It is housed in a wooden case and the electronics are housed in a clear plastic shell allowing customizers and hackers the chance to modify the controller. There is also room to store the game inside of the box. It also has memory foam on the bottom so you can rest it on your lap as you play.
Pete and I finally got our chance to strut our stuff and see what the game is made of. The visuals were impressive and it is the best looking MK to date. The game moves super fast and the joysticks are completely accurate.
Pete chose Sub Zero and Johnny Cage and I took Scorpion and Kung Lao. I’m happy to report that we both were able to use what we knew of past iterations and apply it the new game. I’m sure there are new moves, but I’m glad I was just able to pull off Scorpion’s spear and Kung Lao’s teleportation kick. Pete pulled off a Cage move I’ve never seen before – a Guile styled flipping kick. I pulled off a new move too.
There is a new power meter at the bottom of the screen and we were told that when it fills up to hit 3 buttons to pull off an X-Ray move. I got lucky and pulled off said X-Ray move and it was brilliant! Before I tell you what happened, I will say that, yes, I have seen this before in other games, but Midway blazes a path on previously treaded ground. Basically, the characters go into a animation where they look x-rayed or see-through and as the opponent is getting hit, you get to see, in full color, the breaking of bones and rupturing of organs.
Overall, Mortal Kombat feels like the true successor to Mortal Kombat II. I highly recommend the game pack with the arcade stick. As a collector of weird joysticks and peripherals (see Podcast episode 0.1) that had to be the best arcade joystick for a console I have ever played. Plus, they were eager to tell us that unlike their fighting game competitor, they include the game with their arcade stick. The only thing that would throw this over the top for me would be a Death Ray Fatality!
You can follow Ken and his quest for the Death Ray on Twitter via @UnWinToyHunter.