Mortal Kombat kind of sneaked into my life out of nowhere. I know that’s hard to believe, now that it’s a juggernaut in the arcades, on home consoles, and (if rumors are right) soon to be a Hollywood hit. But it’s true. There was a time when "Mortal Kombat" was just a misspelled phrase to me. Street Fighter II has been my arcade beat-em up of choice since I laid hands on it in my neighborhood Pizza Hut, so it’s been hard for another brawler to take up residence in my memory banks. Getting the hang of a Dragon Punch is hard enough. Learning a whole new set of fighters and moves is too much! MK was such a non-event that it took my Uncle to snap me to the realization that there was a new game on the block that was worthy of my quarters and mindshare.
“Have you heard about this Mortal Kombat game?” he asked one afternoon as we were sanding and painting the corner house. “I walked by your cousin’s room and I heard some guy yell ‘Get out of here!’ so I walked in to see what he was watching.”
“It’s ‘Get Over Here’, by the way! And the "guy" is a hell ninja out for vengeance”, my cousin piped up from the room next door, where he was sulkily cleaning the bathroom grout. The teen years were giving him an extra case of the moodies when it came to my Uncle.
I thought a flaming yellow skull ninja was a funny thing to argue over, but it was pretty much the first time Mortal Kombat became A Big Thing to me. During sleepovers with my cousin, it became one of the staple games we turned to (after Contra, of course). I could always count on him for a MK match. And while I can not say I was ever any good at it, the story behind the game was just as intriguing as those Hong Kong chop-socky flicks we would watch in the 11 pm limbo of late night television.
And one day, our of nowhere, I saw Mortal Kombat II sitting in a corner of a 7-11 one sunny afternoon!