Every older Millennial remembers the original Mortal Kombat. Famous for its blood and gore, Mortal Kombat shocked everyone when it came out and remains a cultural icon to this day. Even people who have never played the games know about Scorpion's famous "GET OVER HERE!", and most people can recognize Sub-Zero.
So what made Mortal Kombat stand out? What made that game so special? Why do people still buy Mortal Kombat posters and wear Mortal Kombat t shirts?
One big deal was the fatalities. Lots of fighting games since Mortal Kombat have adopted its use of fatalities, albeit under different names. Some games have "finishing moves" or "final attacks," but in any case, it started with Mortal Kombat. Some of the gruesome finishing moves involved Scorpion's famous fi
re-breath that skeletonized his opponents; Rayden's electrical fatality that literally blew your head off; and Liu Kang's flip kick that sent you a mile high. The bloody fatalities were one of the biggest selling points of the game. Keep in mind that Mortal Kombat's popularity largely came from being an arcade game. You could play Mortal Kombat in places like bars and laundromats, and this was many people's first exposure to the game. So knowing how to perform the fatalities was one of the big secrets that could win you a lot of style points in the social setting that defined the game.
Another big appeal of Mortal Kombat was the game's wry sense of humor. Johnny Cage had a move where he would do the splits and punch his opponent right in the you-know-where. Funny enough, when you tried to do this move on Sonya, the only female fighter, Johny Cage would just do the splits and not punch, implying that the move wouldn't work anyway. There was also the sheer over-the-top and cartoonish nature of the game's violence, as well as Rayden's comical scream sound effects when using the Superman move.
An additional huge selling point of the game was its replay value. This, in turn, came from two places. First, there is a ton of replay value in the single player mode. The game takes you through a list of randomly selected opponents, two randomly generated endurance rounds, a mirror match, and then the final two boss battles that are always the same. What makes this work so well is that the randomness creates a new experience every time. Even the mirror match depends on which fighter you pick. The second place where MK has replay value is its competitive side. Each character has very similar moves and is differentiated from the other characters by their special moves, so it's a war of special abilities.