One of the most iconic and influential fighting games of all time is finally taking its rightful place in the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Mortal Kombat will be a part of the 2019 class, joining the likes of Microsoft Solitaire, Super Mario Kart, and Colossal Cave Adventure. The ceremony will take place at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.
Picture this – the year is 1992. Up until that point, video games were mostly a wholesome endeavor. Aside from a few scathed titles with lude subject matter, gaming was about happy pixelated characters skipping through digitized worlds on a quest for good. Sure, there was some violence mixed in, but no one was ready for what was about to hit the arcades.
A subject of controversy since its release, the game was criticized wildly by censorship groups for its use of gore including large amounts of blood and of course the now-iconic fatality finishing moves. The game even led to several court cases and the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
However, there was more than gore. The game’s diverse list of characters, story, and unique style of combat kept players coming back. Sure, the violence was a talking point, but the gameplay and cast clearly struck a chord with audiences. Not only did the series continue, but the franchise spawned comic, TV, and movie adaptations.
To give some perspective on just how far the series has come, Mortal Kombat 11 was just released this year for PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. Characters like Sub-Zero have received their own spinoffs, while the Mortal Kombat crew have also done battle with the DC Universe in a massive crossover event.
Of course, Mortal Kombat brought its penchant for bloodshed into the modern age where graphics are much more advanced. After years of being overshadowed and taking a backseat as critics discussed other titles such as the gangster-themed Grand Theft Auto and its dark humor, Mortal Kombat once again found itself facing backlash.
Dismemberment in various forms caught the ire of critics and politicians. Bans were enacted in some cases, though some of them were struck down. There have also been attempts to link the game to real-life violence, with some groups even claiming it perpetuates negative stereotypes of women and certain ethnic groups.
Still, despite the controversy that surrounds it to this day, Mortal Kombat has earned its place in gaming history. Would it have had as much of an impact without the arguably over-the-top violence? Maybe, maybe not. However, the enduring characters whose appearances and catchphrases still resonate in pop culture make it as memorable as a series could be.
One of the determining factors for who made it into the Hall of Fame was the reaching of cultural icon status. Other contenders for this year’s inductee list included Dance Dance Revolution, NBA 2K, Sid Meier’s Civilization, and Candy Crush.