Mortal Kombat 9 represents everything that’s awful about video games. It’s trashy, it’s corny, it’s gory, it’s sexist, it’s racist — and it’s deceptively addictive.
The story gets a hard reboot. Raiden sends a message back in time to himself at the start of the first Mortal Kombat, and the rest of the game follows the plots of Mortal Kombats 1-3, now with alterations by Raiden. But who cares? Mortal Kombat is about kombat, not story.
The eroticism of the gore alarms more than the gore itself. Sonya and the other women suffer “battle damage” rips on their clothes; none of the men’s clothing gets ripped. Several attacks come with a side of eroticism: Johnny Cage performs a perfect split and punches his opponent’s pelvic region; Kano throws his enemies to their knees and throttles their heads in front of his crotch. Most of the fighters represent some sort of racial caricature. Nightwolf the Native American warrior leads the pack. (Did Nightwolf seem quaint in 1995? He sure doesn’t now.) The entire game is an alienating reminder that if you’re not a white, heterosexual male, it’s not “for” you. Or perhaps the intended message is, “Violence is sexy”? Either way, I’m uncomfortable.
But for all MK9’s charms, it’s tough to ignore the game’s creative missteps, from the stupidity of the female characters (Ajax [sic] gets his arms ripped off while Sonya stands in the background like a powerless ditz) to the fact that all the black characters die early on in the story mode [they don’t]. (This is an alternate history! Couldn’t they have kept one of them around this time?) Learning a fighting game requires that you play it over and over. I’d love to spend more time with Sonya, but I’m not willing to do that unless she puts on a bra. It hurts my chest just to watch her.
Why do I like Mortal Kombat so much? Because there are just so many cool characters to choose from—or “kool kharacters,” as they would spell it. Selecting a favorite in a fighting game isn’t just about which moves feel the best, it’s also about the aesthetics and the feeling of the character. Here’s a kollection of kombatants who I think have the best back-stories, one-liners and attitudes.
Jax. Jax gets a bad rap for being boring, but he has cyborg arms. Do you need to worry about being interesting if you have cyborg arms? Also, his full name is Jackson, and replacing “K” with “X” in a universe where “K” is the most-used letter has got to be a form of rebellion.
Sonya Blade. I would put Sonya higher on this list, because she always seemed really awesome to me and she’s been my main in most Mortal Kombat games, but … she keeps getting back together with Johnny Cage. Sonya: you can and MUST do better.
Mileena. Mileena seems like she plays into every stereotype about super-sexy lady fighters—but then she removes her mask to reveal Baraka-esque fangs and eats the unsuspecting faces of her enemies. I’m disappointed that MKX’s story gave Mileena short shrift. Let it be known that she’s still the coolest on my list.
Curiously, she didn’t even mention Mileena at all in 2011, while writing about being “alarmed” about the “eroticism of the gore” in this “racist, sexist” “trash” she’s couldn’t stand.
And my god, she’s still just so fucking stupid:
Kitana. No one knows how to spell the name of the sword correctly anymore because of the way Princess Kitana spells her name. Plus she fights with fans, not a katana.