Childhood has been questioned!
I was playing the Arcade version of Mortal Kombat 1 on my M.A.M.E. emulator and I noticed something to my dismay. Mortal Kombat is very stiff. I’d heard it before from different game critics, especially recently due to the new Mortal Kombat released this week and I never understood what they’re talking about. I always thought to myself: “What do they mean? When I push a button, they do what I want them to do exactly when I want them to.” I now understand what they meant. Let me explain.
When you play Street Fighter, when you move you move according to how you press the directional pad. If you hold forward, you’ll continuously move forward. If you tap forward, you’ll move forward slightly, like just a pixel. If you hold forward in Mortal Kombat, you’ll continuously move forward as well but the game plays like it’s on a checkered plane, like a chess board. So if you were to just tap forward, you’ll move a full step forward. This means you’re on a restricted field of play. Therefore, you could memorize how the field is laid out and figure out how far a jump would move a fighter on the field and move accordingly so that the fighter would miss you completely, yet you would still be able to stand right next to them when they land, something the CPU exploits all the time.
Another problem I found is the collision detection. You can jump kick someone and and it won’t hit because the back of your knee is what came in contact with their head instead of your foot or leg. You could sweep your opponent and be one step off and it won’t come into contact with them even though it appears that it should’ve. Now a lot of fighting games seem to have this problem (off the top of my head, Art of Fighting is another with this problem) but it’s exacerbated by the chess board movement of the fighters. The CPU exploits this all the time. You’ll jump kick the opponent, clearly in the way of the attack and all the CPU has to do is step forward and the attack will miss completely. It’s frustrating!
I could go further into depth about the collision detection or mention some other faults but most of these other problems are true for most fighting games from that time, such as glitches or cheap enemy AI or the unfair boss characters (aka SNK boss syndrome). I loved Mortal Kombat as a kid and in my mind Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter were equals. Now I think Street Fighter might be pulling ahead, ruining my childhood neutrality towards the two franchises.
Perhaps the first Mortal Kombat hasn’t aged well. The first Street Fighter game is terrible. Maybe that’ll even the odds. I still love Mortal Kombat II and have grown an appreciation lately for Mortal Kombat 3, specifically Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. I guess I still love Mortal Kombat, just not as much anymore. I still remember that game best from the Genesis port anyways. The AI is less cheap.