The ultimate gaming grudge match.
It’s a subject that divides gamers right down the middle. Not everyone is crazy about beat ’em ups these days, but most of us have fond memories of them. The more people I talk to, the more I realize we all fall on one side of the line or the other: Do you prefer Mortal Kombat? With digitized fighters, blood and gore? Or Street fighter, with it’s intense action, crazy combos and lightning speed?
Let’s take a look at our contestants!
The original Street fighter crashed into arcades in 1987. You controlled Ryu and had him fight against opponents all over the world using 3 different attacks and three special attacks. It did okay, and was released on various home systems too. As we all know though, it was the sequel, Street Fighter II that took the world by storm.
Released in 1991, this was the first game that let you choose fro a selection of different characters. Each had their own special moves, speed, strengths and weaknesses. Throws were introduced, boss characters were included, and the ability for a second player to join at any time was a real game changer. The updated versions (Championship edition and Turbo for example) brought new players into the fold, and the home console versions were fantastic, which cemented the Street Fighter legacy.
There have been numerous sequels since. There’s the Alpha Series, the EX Series, three different versions of Street Fighter 3, the list goes on. The SF cast even tangled with superheroes in Marvel vs Streetfighter! The most recent outing was Street Fighter V, a PS4 exclusive. The game scored an average of 77%, and while most people liked the graphics and the gameplay, they were not as impressed with the single player content and the unstable online servers at launch.
The popularity of Street Fighter has been up and down over the years, with so many changes to the mechanics and different rosters.
Developed by Midway in 1992, Mortal Kombat was also a hit in Arcades. The characters on-screen looked so realistic, and it was a really sound fighting game…. but it was the blood and “death moves” that stole the show. Fans loved it, parents and critics were horrified. In fact, this game is part of the reason the ESRB ratings board was created!
MK uses 4 different attack buttons and a block button. Later games added a run button too. Special moves were easier to perform than those in Street Fighter, and although the fatalities were a little trickier, it was infinitely rewarding when you figured one out!
The home console versions followed, although both were censored to a degree. The Megadrive version needed a code to activate the gore (ABACABB at the license screen, just saying!) While the SNES game had the offending red stuff completely removed.
By the time MK2 arrived in 1993, fans got what they wanted. The blood was restored to all versions, the rosters updated and the fatalities were even more outlandish. Players were able to play as Reptile and Shang Tsung, the secret character and boss from the previous game.
As with SF, Mortal Kombat has seen many sequels over the years, including MK3, MK4, Trilogy, Armageddon and Deadly Alliance. Although the popularity of the series was waning, the 2009 release of Mortal Kombat (named MK9 by it’s fanbase) rejuvenated the franchise. Released on PS3 and Xbox 360, MK9 featured a massive roster, new bone-breaking specials and a refined fighting engine. Mortal Kombat X is the latest release on XBO and PS4.
My first memory was playing the original Street Fighter on my Amstrad. It didn’t play very well at all. One fire button simply wasn’t enough to control for Ryu’s moveset and the poor old machine was struggling to keep up with the on-screen action.
SF II was the next big one. I played this on Amiga first, and SNES second. The Amiga port was slooooow, but had incredible music, while the SNES port was a lot faster, the button layout confused me a little. (2 attacks were mapped to the shoulder buttons which are not the easiest to reach)
Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 followed shortly after
Disk swapping on the Amiga is a PAIN, but I had so much fun playing these titles. I still only had one fire button, but somehow the game handled that a lot better. Slight adjustments to directions turned high kicks into roundhouses, high punches became uppercuts…. It was also easier to discover special moves and fatalities!
MK 3 on the Megadrive was next, making great use of the new 6 button controller, followed by Street Fighter Alpha on the Saturn. At this point, I took a rest from these two titans, and apart from a quick blast on MK4 on the PS1 (disappointing!) and Streetfighter 3 on the Dreamcast, (pretty darn good!) Things went very quiet.
Then along came MK9.
I’d gotten very excited with talk of the Mortal Kombat reboot. The gameplay videos looked great so I picked this up on PS3. The story was so bad it was great, there were hundreds of unlockables, plenty of characters to choose from and both online and offline multiplayer worked really well. This game became a firm favourite and a staple of many games nights!
Streetfighter IV, on the other hand, fell flat for me. I picked it up on Xbox 360 and just could not get into it. It just didn’t seem to flow very well. The new HD fighters looked too chunky and colourful, although the gaming public at large seemed to lap this up! There were also 2 different bars that charged throughout the match, and I realised that i was concentrating more on those bars than I was on the fighting!
This debate is one that will rage on forever more. Personally, I’ll always be a Mortal Kombat guy. I prefer the way the fights are paced, where you can keep your distance and pick your moment to attack. Street Fighter matches move so much more quickly, they tend to be less about strategy and more about reactions and reflexes.
I also prefer the boss characters from Mortal Kombat, Goro, Kintaro, Shao Khan, Shang Tsung are all memorable villains, while the only ones who stack up from Street Fighter are Akuma and the classic M. Bison.
I’ve had great fun with mulitplayer on both franchises, but MK edges it here too. There’s nothing like being able to finish your opponent off after a really tense fight!
I do have a lot of love for the hard hitting, non-stop action of the Street Fighter series, but on this occasion….
See you all next time!