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Mortal Kombat 1: A Game That Links Dimensions
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Mortal Kombat 1: A Game That Links Dimensions

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EugeneZH
7 min

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One game to boost them all

However awesome and popular Mortal Kombat 1 is, not everyone in the fighting games community is a fan of it. This may sound shocking, but it’s true.

Still, one thing MK1 does for all of us is immensely valuable — yep, even if you are not going to play it at all. The game is known well beyond the core FGC. It attracts attention and brings new people — and somewhere in that line of sequences, we can see money and opportunities for other games, TOs, and players.

Mortal Kombat 1 is a mass culture phenomenon

Let’s say it this way — those who don’t play games have a very good chance to just know MK. Partially, it becomes possible thanks to the powerful controversy around the bloody fights and violent finishing moves. Many years after the original discussions and the change of blood to sweat on the Nintendo consoles, we still can hear people complaining about “disgusting MK1 animations.

Someone falls into hatred toward everything in Mortal Kombat. But many other people get curious. They want to build their own opinion, especially if they are gamers and play other genres.

Beyond that, the marketing campaigns of the NetherRealm Studios are absolutely dedicated to the mass audience. We could see them bringing celebrities to the scene. And having such characters as Omni Man in the role of a guest character — this is big (no need to mention all the other guests in MK games).

A lot of Mortal Kombat players don’t know about this thing, FGC. They have fun playing with friends, which is simply wonderful.

Games Shooting Big… but not, actually

MK1 is not the first one doing this thing, linking dimensions of the gaming community. There are others succeeding in this area — at least to some extent.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Here, we have an even bigger audience of active gamers involved in fights. Nintendo is a legendary company with many iconic franchises. Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong — people love those characters and are ready to play them throughout many titles and many genres. Add here successful collaborations to feel the full scale of SSBU’s popularity.

Mortal Kombat is maybe even not that big, but…

Smash is super strong within the casual audience, having obvious troubles around its competitive scene. It feels like Nintendo itself is not really happy about building the esports component of SSBU. They love to have Smash more of a mass (family-friendly?) product.

Dedicated professionals perform miracles on those platforms. The game has lots of deep aspects for developing playing skills. Still, the FGC often looks at Smash kind of… unseriously. 

SSBU is huge in the general gaming audience, but it struggles to make the linking thing and boost processes in the fighting games community.

Guilty Gear Strive

Right after the release, this game got some pretty impressive numbers of active players. The visuals here are pure beauty. The characters are interesting. The fights are accessible enough to just enjoy them.

But then, the decrease in those numbers was quick and obvious. Guilty Gear Strive is a difficult game, and the more characters the developers add to it, the less they play with general gamers (Asuka). 

This is certainly cool, don’t get me wrong. The core of Guilty Gear is to be a somewhat weird anime game. It is stuck to these roots, which carry Strive through the tough competition with other fighting titles.

The initial boom of interest from various types of gamers did not help make the linking of the genre dimensions possible. This is not bad though. It’s just not like with MK1.

Street Fighter 6

Even now, around four months after the release (at the moment of writing this article), the game is massive. The numbers on Twitch for SF6 are around the same or higher than for MK1.

Has Street Fighter 6 succeeded in this aspect of being a multi-dimensional hit too?

Yes and No.

The initial boom of SF6 was bigger than that of GGST, and it’s been continuing longer. But people inevitably unleash the true core of Street Fighter, and it’s not fun adventures of the World Tour mode.

Street Fighter 6 is as difficult as other installments of this series, requiring high precision from players. We could compare it to an elite sport, where people are amazed by the skills of top players — “oh, I certainly cannot repeat this.”

The developers took a lot of steps to improve the accessibility of their product and let casual players enjoy the title more: the RPG explorations, step-by-step learning process, modern controls… And within the FGC, SF6 is impressively big. 

But that big-ness is, in a way, the opposite of what Smash Ultimate has achieved. Casual players cannot/don’t want to grow further, and the hardcore enthusiasts remain.

MK1 Balance

Has Mortal Kombat 1 found a perfect balance?

It’s not your easiest game, but MK1 does a lot to make the fights exciting for beginners. There is no difficult input here, and with some dedication, everyone can easily learn simple but effective combos.

The game is deep, without any doubts. One only feature of having kameo assists brings mind-blowing variations. And the tricks pro players can perform here are not less impressive than in SF6.

The balance between the accessibility and the mastery level is still more pronounced in MK1 (than in basically any other fighting game). New kameos and characters are often directly aimed at the mass audience. The NRS guys know how to support their competitive community. Yep, the balance is here!

Why is it good for everyone in the FGC?

Guys, we could all benefit from the fighting games being not just a niche genre for some dedicated fanatics.

It’s essential to have the core, as it’s been keeping the community alive for many years. But scaling is also good — and Mortal Kombat makes it possible.

May we reach the level of shooters and MOBAs without ruining everything that makes fighting games so awesome? Perhaps Mortal Kombat 1 gently pushes everyone on this path, helping other titles keep their identity.

Can another game do the same level of dimensions linking?

Maybe Project L?...

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