[Note: When I first published this piece shortly after the release of Mortal Kombat, it somehow found its way onto N4G and caused a lot of people to cry their eyes out because I wasn’t sucking Sub-Zero’s cock. Look, this is sarcastic – I like Mortal Kombat a lot, and primarily because it’s a fun game without feeling the need to be an artistic statement or a commentary on something. It’s just fun because smacking ninjas around is fun and sometimes that’s all we need.]
In order to enjoy Mortal Kombat 9 (or should I say Mortal Kombat, because this iteration of the series has the exact same title as the original for no adequately explained reason) there are certain preparatory steps you need to undertake before you commit to it.
In the interest of providing people with a fair starting point, I thought it would be useful to construct this handy step-by-step tutorial in order to give people some idea of the sacrifices they’re going to need to make in order to have fun with what is, at its heart, a very solid fighting game.
So, without further ado:
Step 1 – Forget about the potential of videogames as a storytelling medium.
Narrative has no place in Mortal Kombat, and if you go into the “Story Mode” expecting a moving, character-driven tale of drama, suspense and konflict, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. If it makes you feel better, imagine each fight as its own little narrative, and make up all the backstory in your imagination.
Step 2 – Don’t concern yourself about the objectification of women in videogames.
Seriously, you’re asking for trouble. Before you load the game up (shit, before you even look at the back of the box) tell yourself over and over that every female character in this game is going to have huge breasts, a tiny waist, an exposed midriff and very little clothing. Keep repeating that until you’re comfortable with the idea before you even think about getting started. If you want a deep and relatable female protagonist, play Beyond Good & Evil. Kitana just fucks things up.
Step 3 – Convince yourself that extreme violence is cathartic.
This is very important. Mortal Kombat is violent to a degree that borders on fetishistic. You need to understand that the X-Ray attacks are going to zoom in and show one or more bones being twisted and bent and then splintering into little bits. There’s going to be lots of blood. Also, be sure to ascertain your comfort with the violence absolutely and completely before you go anywhere near Noob Saibot’s fatality.
Step 4 – For the purposes of this exercise, games are not art.
Thinking about video games as a new and exciting form of artistic expression is a really, really bad idea when you’re playing Mortal Kombat. For the duration of your play session, you need to be prepared to forget about this notion. No, Roger Ebert isn’t going to be changing his position on “games as art” after playing this game, but Rog hasn’t unlocked all the items in the Krypt, has he? Also, please refrain from commenting on how the violence is an allegory for the primal savagery of the human race, because it isn’t.
Step 5 – Repeat after me: “Shao Kahn will kick my arse”.
This could be the most important step of all. Before you touch Story Mode, before you go near the Arcade Ladder, you need to be well and truly aware of the fact that the first time you fight Shao Kahn, it will be a disaster. He will annihilate you and you will question whether or not he can be beaten at all. It’s OK. This is normal. You will get there in the end. It also helps if you keep your distance, duck underneath his spears and spam ranged attacks.
So there you have it. Hopefully, by following this guide to the letter, you will have mentally and physically prepared yourself for Mortal Kombat 9. These are all mistakes I made personally, and I’m doing you a great service by preventing you from having to suffer like I did.