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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Friday, April 8, 2011

Video Gaming- Or, why Mortal Kombat May Have Become Irrelevant

WARNING- You're going to get to see Mario, Kratos, and hot women in this post.

I remember the first time I started to take Gaming seriously, or rather, when that notion first came into my head. The very first time I saw my brother playing Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles on our computer (we shared a room, then) and beating the game as Knuckles (we couldn’t get past the damned Carnival Night Zone elevator trap as Sonic or Tails), watching in awe at the credits rolling down the screen. I had never seen the end of a game- all the games I had for Game Boy were either too difficult (Super Mario Land, though I’m ashamed to admit it, Operation C, Dragon Warrior Monsters) didn’t interest me (Motocross, Baseball), or were Tetris, which you couldn’t really beat and deserves a spot of its own. Seeing a story end for the first time was awesome, and it made me want to beat the game myself. I eventually did, but my brother had done so before me, so I wasn’t exactly satisfied. The same thing happened a little while later, with Starcraft and Brood War- though I never thought those stories were truly over, so I held out fro the next Starcraft (which I didn’t get until late last year. -.-). But still, the thought of beating a game on my own was important to me- so I guess you could say I took them seriously.

However, this guy changed all that. Fast forward, past Sonic Adventure 2 (one of my favorite games of all time), Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Pikmin. I eventually beat all of these, but when I got to an area I couldn’t overcome, I would leave the game to rest and go do something else. Then came Paper Mario- The Thousand Year Door. I remember playing this game and everything just clicking for me- my brother wasn’t interested in this one, and had started to go in the direction of Metroid Prime and Enter the Matrix, so I could dedicate myself to learning this story and playing the game myself.
I loved it. It’s still my favorite game, to this day. I got through the entire thing all by myself- learning the secrets, completing the puzzles, and finishing the story all on my own. I remember the final hit I got on the Shadow Queen. I remember the ending, clearly. It was awesome. All the effort I had put into it paid off, and I had beaten a game all by myself. It’s a hardcore nerd moment, I’ll admit, but a damn good one.

From then on, I went back and played all of my old favorites that I hadn’t beaten- trying my damndest to finish them all. I completed a lot of games that way, and it was a nice sense of accomplishment. The thing I like about video games is that you are in control of the character and go through the journey with them- RPG’s are one of my favorite genres because they allow the main character to be you, in a sense- to do everything you would do if you were in that situation. But that’s a whole other story for another time.

In any case, I guess you could say that I am a traditional gamer. As everyone knows, the beginning of video gaming was simplistic- with base concepts and bare-bones design- in comparison to today’s games, anyhow. I mean, This was revolutionary.

Platforming was something that emerged to make use of the unrealistic graphics and limited design, and it’s become such a staple of video games that it still exists today. I am, first and foremost, a player of platformers- complex fighting mechanics and overcomplicated role playing rules have never been my forte. I love Mario, I’m a huge Sonic fan (it’s a shame so many of his games suck), Metroid, Zelda… seeing a trend here…? I’m a Nintendo fanboy. I think that they produce fantastic, unique, gameplay heavy and story-centric games that stand out and hold their own against other studios. They’re also awesome at being innovative.
But I could proudly idolize Nintendo all day- what I’d rather talk about is the current state of gaming. Now, if people think that there’s going to be a revolutionary leap like there was from 2D gaming to 3D gaming anytime in the near future, they’re kidding themselves. Gaming has progressed in a huge way over the past fifteen years, there’s no doubt about that. If you were to show a gamer in 1996 what he’d eventually be playing in 2011, he’d ask you if he was watching a movie- with really really good visual effects. Gaming has made huge leaps and bounds from where it used to be, which brings us to the subtitle of today’s article.

So, there’s a new Mortal Kombat game coming out.

Why is this interesting? Well, we are promised fatalities. And fatalities are awesome. But if you look at the evolution of gaming, Mortal Kombat isn’t exactly in the best position if that’s their selling point. In case you haven’t noticed, hardcore violence has become a staple for mature games- God of War, Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, Gears of War… they all function on this idea of over-masculine gameplay featuring blood, guts, and gritty men talking about their problems.
Let's be honest, is this behavior really that surprising from Kratos? Mortal Kombat may have revolutionized the fighting genre back in the day for its skull and heart ripping shock factor, but these things are a staple in gaming now. If people are expecting to pick these up and witness skull ripping, they may be unimpressed. Says a lot about our society, don’t it?

Another thing that Mortal Kombat might not have going for it is the sheer simplicity of its character designs. Sure, Sorpion and Subzero are cool, but where are the half naked, sexy ladies? Oh, wait…

Jade is pretty hot. But regardless, Mortal Kombat has never been known for flaunting its femme fatales, something that Soul Calibur, Dead of Alive, and Street Fighter do without shame. You’ve only got about three characters that display sex appeal, and they’re all essentially wearing the same outfit. I mean, when one of your ladies is a four-armed psycho demon-alien thing, you can’t really blame people for not having an imagination.
Mortal Kombat may have robots, skulls, some breasts, and violence, but it never goes to an extreme in any of those directions. Perhaps the selling point will be the very balanced fighting system, and you know what…? That may just work.

You see, a trend with video games is that they have problems delivering. Very few studios have solidified themselves with churning out consecutively good games- hell, as a Sonic fan, I should know that more than anyone. But if a game just delivers a solid experience, which is what people are looking for, then it can’t really claim to be a failure. If the fighting mechanics are decent and there isn’t unfair combo setups, etc, then this new Mortal Kombat could be proof that the series still stands as a big contender.

I hate to backtrack, but the brutal fatalities may actually be something that MK is doing right in hyping, as well. Fighting games don’t really focus on the reality of their violent acts- they never really like to show how screwed up their characters get. But if MK promises broken bones, sawed-in-half bodies, and torn limbs, it may have a leg-up against the other fighting games. Sure, we love to see Ivy choking the hell out of her enemies with her whip-sword, but when do any of those sword slashes draw blood…?

Mortal Kombat defined an era in which all-out violence wasn’t the norm. It’s hard to believe it can stand against others during this generation of gaming, but it may have hope yet. The only problem with the majority of games nowadays is that the hype surrounding them- before the Internet was a huge tool, people had to buy games because they were hyped via magazine or because they had gone out on a limb and bought from the series before. Mortal Kombat may be relying on that mentality, in a sense, since we haven’t had a good fighting outing from them in a while. MKvDC, I’m talking to you. However, it’s certainly not over yet, and we’re forgetting one very important aspect of gaming that has kept certain franchises afloat- nostalgia. People love MK because of the first steps it took to get us where we are today (i.e. blood and face-ripping), and they may love this one because of the way it reintroduces the classic characters, and game mechanics, which made the series always stand out.

I just talked myself in a circle. Next up, I’ll post some more on my favorite games. Oh, and I will post some more Descent, as well!

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