With the imminent arrival of the ninth Mortal Kombat game today, I thought it only fitting to devote the final entry in this four part retrospective to the release of the original game on console and portable systems 18 years ago on September 13, 1993 – a date better known to those who were there as Mortal Monday – and the media circus that ensued.
To the current generation of gamers, the ESRB is a ubiquitous presence and massive fanfare surrounding the releases of major titles is a given. But, back then, there was no video game ratings system and the big two were caught in an endless struggle for dominance, with Nintendo enforcing draconian censorship rules on one side and Sega continuously pushing the envelope on the other. So when Acclaim launched a massive advertising campaign celebrating the upcoming release of their ports of Mortal Kombat– one of the bloodiest, most violent, and popular titles of the day – and journalists, concerned parents, senators, Captain Kangaroo, and anti-video game violence advocates jumped on the bandwagon…you can pretty much imagine the insanity that ensued.
Mortal Monday ended up being a pivotal moment in video game history, with the massive fallout from the media fiasco hastening the formation of the ESRB the following year. And many gamers reveled in the schadenfreude of having front row seats to the public breaking of Nintendo’s spirit when the technically-superior-yet-mercilessly-neutered Super NES “Competition Edition” of the game was crushed in the sales department by the Sega Genesis “Tournament Edition” one. Remember kids: “Morality may help you sleep well at night, but it sure as hell won’t line your pockets with cash.”
But enough with the history lesson…it’s time for today’s collectable! Or, more correctly said, collectables, as everyone who preordered a copy of the game all those years ago received a box of goodies in the form of the Mortal Kombat Kit. which, as you’ll soon learn, sounds more impressive than it actually is.
1. Temporary Tattoos of Goro, the Mortal Kombat Dragon Enblem, and the Mortal Kombat logo.
3. A Mortal Kombat Sweepstakes Entry Form, which players could mail in for a chance to win free swag such as t-shirts, hats, and comic books, with the grand prize being a Mortal Kombat arcade machine.
5. Mortal Kombat Trading Cards featuring Super NES screenshots of the characters performing special moves or Fatalities on one side, and black and white artwork by John Tobias with biographical information – both cribbed from the pages of the Mortal Kombat Collector’s Edition Comic Book – on the other.
6. A reversible Mortal Kombat Poster. While the front was little more than promotional propaganda for Acclaim and Midway, the back – which carried the title “The Art of Kombat” – was a massive table containing biographies, strengths, weaknesses, strategies, combos, and a complete list of moves for the games’ characters for all four home versions of the game (Super NES, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, and Nintendo Game Boy).
You know, I say this with the full realization that I’m going to come off sounding like an old codger, but kids these days don’t know how good they have it. If you preordered the current version of the game, you could end up getting such delightful toys as an arcade stick controller, an artbook, exclusive downloadable content, bookends, or a collectable figurine depending on where, when, and how much money you invested. Compare and contrast this with what I got when I was their age, which is barely one step above what you’d get in a loot bag from a six-year-old’s birthday party by modern standards. 😛